Round 1.5 commences with a bit of a predicament: how do you compare two albums that go in utterly opposite directions?
Take Arktis, the latest album from Ihsahn, for example. The DNA common to all of his latter-day work (and to Leprous, if I'm being honest) is still easy to discern, but this album is also half-submerged in 80s prog proclivities, without sounding like a retread. The resulting mood is one of restless ambition, as it pulls from many different influences and still managing to feel cohesive. And yet, calling this a (black) metal album is a bit like swirling vermouth in a glass, dumping it out, refilling with gin, and calling it a martini. (Still tasty, tho.)
Magrudergrind's II responds with a 12-song (23-minute) watery dump of nasty grindcore goodness. There is no subtlety, no surprise, just skanky slam-fodder from start to finish. That makes for a more effective metal album in general, but certainly lacks the differentiable elements one looks for in a contest. What it does, it does very well... but as soon as it's done, it's gone. Arktis is a superior album, and so takes the round from Magrudergrind (who are probably too busy roiling the pit to even notice)... but is it metal enough to go farther in the Arsies? We'll see soon enough.
We end the week (Friday the 13th!) with Haken and Oranssi Pazuzu.