Today is a perfect example of why I even do the Arsies, and why I do them the way I do.
In the months prior to the tournament, I of course audition every album I can find. When I first listen to each album, I give it a general rating based on my initial impressions. When I first heard Sumac's heavy juggernaut The Deal, I gave it a high three stars (out of four). To me, it sounded like Aaron Turner had finally hit upon a formula in which his avant garde leanings are channeled into a more effective onslaught, which you can hear best on Thorn In The Lion's Paw. Later in the year, Irreversible Mechanism's Infinite Fields also got three stars, but didn't capture my attention quite as strongly as The Deal did. These albums are nothing alike, of course, but I couldn't immediately imagine how they'd even fare against each other. So going into this contest, I had a preconception that Sumac would come out on top.
But then today, I listened to both albums back to back. The Sumac, while still being every bit as crushingly heavy as I remember it, is not without its flaws. In particular, it has a tendency to meander (a trait that all of Aaron Turner's post-Isis work shares). Infinite Fields, while not quite as ridiculously heavy, is more of a consistent rollercoaster of an album. You get 3 minutes of intro, and then when Into The Void kicks in, I hope you're strapped in for the ensuing half hour of Faceless-style shrediculousness. There's pacing, but not so much that it feels like work to get to the winningest moments (unlike The Deal). To my utter shock, I have to give today's win to Irreversible Mechanism in an upset over Sumac.
That's it for this week. Come back Monday, when Byzantine challenge Oceano!