The 2017 Arsies

Prelude

What a brutal year, my friends. We lost Bowie. We lost Prince. We lost Emerson and Lake. But maybe... just maybe.. it was also a brĂ¼tal year, if you catch my meaning. Behold! The Eighth Annual Arsies are finally here!
If you're new to the Arsies, the house rules are simple. Arranged around the bracket are the best of the best, the most promising metal albums released over the past 12 months. (Only entirely new music releases, mind you -- no live albums, no splits, no remixes -- and albums at least 20 minutes in length, if you please.) Over the course of the next six weeks, those albums will face off in daily battle. During each match, we'll listen to those two albums, to determine which is finer. We'll refine our judgment incrementally, using the vaunted single elimination tournament format, until we arrive at an ultimate winner. Also, while you'll read many instances of us picking apart an album throughout this tournament, keep in mind that these are relative demerits, and that every album here is justifiably praiseworthy, and belongs in this catalog of excellence.
Objectively and scientifically speaking, the pickins were slim in 2016. (You'll find a playlist of all the albums we pored over in 2016 on Spotify.) Notable among the detritus: albums from previous winners which often fell shorter than I would have thought (I'm looking at you, Gojira, BABYMETAL, Periphery, Sumac, and Inter Arma.) But even with fewer albums to review, we've got more than enough quality metal for the tournament. (We've also created a separate playlist that only contains the 32 finalists, and we'll be posting a playlist for each contest, so you can listen along and judge for yourself.)
And this year, we're going to try something new. Instead of solely arbitrating the day's battle subjectively, we'll also score the albums using several qualitative criteria (replayability, shredding ability, innovation, production values, etc.); once those scores are tabulated, we should have a more quantitative understanding of the day's skirmish. Theoretically.
Will this new approach work? We'll start to find out bright and early on Monday, January 2nd, with our first match: Textures versus Primitive Weapons!

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