GridLink can keep banging out 12 minute albums until the sun flames out as long as it means they keep things tight and ruthlessly eviscerate any fat. Perhaps the greatest thing I could say for the death of physical music is that artists are no longer chained to the limitations or expectations of the format. Albums are now free to be as long or as short as the music demands without being beholden to a delivery system.
Anybody who grew up during the great CD boom of the '80s and '90s will remember every artist suddenly felt pressured to make full use of a format that would allow them to inflict up to an hour of music on their fans. So we got Metallica songs that clocked in at a bloated eight minutes on average. Now, I have a huge doom collection, and I can appreciate excruciatingly long songs if done well, but you have to earn the right to put out 75 minute albums. It's not something just anybody should be doing. You are probably not Neurosis. Especially grindcore bands. However, some of my favorite artists and even my favorite albums, if I'm honest, are absolutely way too fricken long. With very few exceptions, no grindcore album should top half an hour.
Here are five good reasons why.
Everyone Should be Killed
If no grindcore band should write more than 30 minute albums, that goes doubly for Anal Cunt. I'm gonna go ahead and establish a new iron clad grindcore rule: Seth Putnam should never have been allowed to record anything longer than the infamous 88 Song EP. Morbid Florist, tops. But in 1993 Putnam et al dropped the hefty 58-song, 58:40 behemoth Everyone Should Be Killed. Many of the songs were recycled from Morbid Florist and easily could have been axed in the name of economy. Nearly an hour of blurcore insanity that...ummm...blurs together is too much to ask of even the band's most dedicated fans.
Time Waits for No Slave
Time Waits for No Slave was a respectable Barney-era Napalm Death album, but in no rational world should it have clocked 50:22. Especially for only 14 songs. (By comparison, predecessor Smear Campaign was a punchier album over all but still a gratuitous 45 minutes for 16 songs). Lopping a good 15 minutes off of Time Waits for No Slave could have made it a ferocious beast of an LP. The From Enslavement to Obliteration days are never coming back, but a pitiless editor could have checked the band's bloat and turned in a record that would have done the Napalm Death legacy proud, regardless of lineup and era.
Before the flaming starts, I abso-fricken-lutely love this album. Inhale/Exhale was my first exposure to Nasum back in college and it holds fond memories for me. But it's just too damn long at 45:11. Shortly after Mieszko Talarczyk died, Decibel asked drummer Anders Jakobson to look back over the band's catalogue and something he said about Inhale/Exhale really struck me. After years of struggling, scrimping and saving up to record 7-inches that forced the band to keep things tight, he said Inhale/Exhale was Nasum's first chance to leave a little fat on a record. While Jakobson admitted the record is overly long, anyone who watches Food Network as much as I do will tell you fat=flavor. However, fat is also not always healthy. Judicious pruning would have made an excellent album doubly explosive.
Sounds of the Animal Kingdom
Shitty production aside, Songs of the Animal Kingdom remains my favorite Brutal Truth record because it's so weird and unexpected, even 15 years later. However, at a whopping 74:16, it's a hell of a slog to get through in one sitting. Yes, the infamous "Prey," which may be one of the most skipped tracks in metal history, comes in at just a skootch under 22 minutes, but even without it, that still leaves more than 50 minutes of grindcore to absorb. Serial long album offenders Brutal Truth packed up a whole Noah's Ark of animal insanity on their then-swansong record. Now, it just feels like a tad like the Marx Brothers' crowded stateroom.
Subvert the Dominant Paradigm
Noisear turned in album that will surely dominate many top 10 lists in a couple of months with Subvert the Dominant Paradigm. But then they had to go fuck up a tidy 25 minute album by tacking on the 20 minute annoyance that is "Noisearuption" (for comparison, the whole of Pyroclastic Annhialation was less than 22 minutes despite a half dozen Discordance Axis covers). "Noisearuption" is an absolutely awful, grating noise kissoff that nearly obliterates any good will the band had accrued up to that point. It should serve as an object lesson on screwing up a perfectly good album with an uncharacteristic and unnecessary assault on listeners' expectations that doesn't really have any payoff other than pissing people off and making a great album too damn long.
Funny how so many of them are from Relapse, innit?