I've resurrected an old series of articles I wrote a few years ago because there's something that's been bugging me for a good year or two now: pointless, worthless, time-consuming introductions. Over the last few years, metal has seen a disturbingly large trend in which bands 'set the mood' by throwing a minute or two of eerie effects, keyboards, or other random noises at the beginning of an album. While reviewing dozens of albums, I frequently find myself bored before the first real song starts. Here are a few recent examples: Grave - "Intro - Day of Reckoning", Into Eternity - "Novus Inceptum", Napalm Death - "Weltschmerz", The Arcane Order - "Prologue: The Machinery of Oblivion", Suffocation - "Oblivion". There aren't any of these that I consider engaging or even remotely necessary. Let the music speak for itself...Grave's "Burn", The Arcane Order's "Infinite Ghost Anathema", Into Eternity's "Severe Emotional Distress", were all solid album openers blocked by needless intros. Those are just the examples that I've been listening to in the past few weeks! What ever happened to writing an engrossing track opener? It's gotten to the point where I'll make my own copy of some discs just to remove the introduction so I don't have to skip it each and every time I listen to a disc.
There's not to say that some introductions don't do a good job of setting an overall tone or lead-in to the first track. The Black Dahlia Murder's "Built for Sin" sets the tone and leads into "I'm Charming" quite well, showcasing the dark and murky atmosphere of the disc. Arch Enemy's "Entering the Machine" was equally as enjoyable and better than some of the tracks on Doomsday Machine (*cough* "My Apocalypse"). What's the difference here? Well, in both cases, the band is utilizing all instruments (sans vocals) to create a mood, whereas many bands are opting to through some meaningless mechanized intro that serves only to increase disc time. Care to know what I think is the worst offender of the "intro curse"? Easily Hypocrisy's 16 SECOND intro to "Warpath". Tell me the disc doesn't start better if you skip the intro and jump right into "Warpath". Why did they even bother with the intro?
Is this a more-or-less small gripe? Sure, as one can always just skip ahead to the second track and ignore the existence of the introduction but it begs the question: If fans don't want to bother with the song, why do bands continue doing it? Am I the only one bothered by these pointless tracks? I guess the answer may never be truly known....But in the meantime, my advice to any and all bands, if you're gonna do an introduction, make sure there's an actual point to it and it truly sets some sort of atmosphere.