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#51 Posted by RollingZeppelin (1916 posts) -

I'm sorry if my tone puts you off, I'm just angry because I'm lonely all the time and will be found dead on the phone, dragged down by the stone one day (am I doing it right guys?)

Feel free to discontinue this conversation but I still want to ask, what does "understanding a metaphor" mean? Do you understand it on your own upon reading the lyrics? Or do you have to read a wiki or a blog/discuss it with others, and then you understand and accept it? If the latter, doesn't that contradict the concept of understanding? Doesn't it mean the lyrics are inexplicable and thus should be deemed meaningless?

Are we talking about a big yet finite number of literary metaphors that you learn as you go forward in life, or does concept music have an infinite amount of metaphors than any songwriter with a pen can conjure up? If the latter is the case, because art, then how am I supposed to understand what he intended?

If it's subjective, then why does it seem that people who claim they understand the concept lyrics, usually agree on what that 'album was about'?

I don't understand why you're having such a problem with the fact that people draw their own meanings from songs, but when they discuss an album they like, can come to an agreement on an overall meaning or theme.

The Wall had a movie made about it, so obviously there was a story structure within the piece of music.

#52 Posted by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -
#53 Edited by believer258 (11641 posts) -

@audiobusting: That's a pretty good start. The slice of lyrics you put are about a hitman and his gun, like you claimed it is. My sanity is returning, thanks haha.

@jimmy_p said:

every 70's prog album. i cant understand how you didnt grasp this then

also happens to be one of the best

dogs, pigs, sheep

I've listened to that album in its entirety at least 15 times in the past 10 years, it's my favorite Floyd record because of the phenomenal music. I remember the lyrics, but I don't see how they are connected or serve a higher purpose. How is that "extra" layer of concept there? Maybe I'm stupid, please explain to me.

Who was born in a house full of pain.

Who was trained not to spit in the fan.

Who was told what to do by the man.

Who was broken by trained personnel.

Who was fitted with collar and chain.

Who was given a pat on the back.

Who was breaking away from the pack.

Who was only a stranger at home.

Who was ground down in the end.

Who was found dead on the phone.

Who was dragged down by the stone.

Found dead on the phone and dragged down by the stone? Such nonsense.

Sounds like somebody tried to rebel against an authority of some sort and got left out, alone and abandoned, and was found dead after spending a lot of his or her time dragged down by defeat. And I figured that out without knowing any of the context!

I'm pretty sure there are some pretentious concept albums but a lot of what you have said sounds like me when I was frustrated because I didn't understand a poem or something the first time I lazily read it. It isn't necessarily as simple as reading Harry Potter in your spare time.

Online
#54 Posted by Juzie (167 posts) -

This thread has officially been declared invalid the moment you linked those Pink Floyd lyrics and don't even understand them. Some of the easier concept lyrics to understand.

An interesting twist to this thread would be for the OP to list his/her favourite movies. I bet he/she prefers anime over good movies. It's a lot more direct and monologue.

#55 Edited by Akyho (1585 posts) -

My two are these two.

Ziltoid the Omniscient by Devin Townsend. The story of Ziltoid coming to earth with his battle fleet in search of the ultimate cup of coffaaaaaay.

Devin hand crafted the entire album by himself, even down to the puppet of Ziltoid he uses in videos.

I only found out about Ziltoid when I got drunk with a friend and crashed at his, we had been to a gig a week beforehand for a band Devin had played in (Wildhearts) and he found it in a shop before heading, he was super ecstatic over it. So when I crashed, he put it on this small cd player then left the room for a hour. I was in the dark still drunk not tired enough to sleep but too drunk to do anything. So I just listened in the dark, and for that hour I was there. I was watching Ziltoid demand coffee from earth and Captain Spectacular dispatched to fend Ziltoid off.

Daft punk's Discovery. which flows so well its brilliant when its animated.

These are my only known concept albums I have listened to from start to finish.

I am too dense to know beyond the surface of these things.

#56 Edited by Veektarius (4601 posts) -

The value of a concept album to me is that they tend to be a continuous arc of music rather than thematically distinct tracks. Take, for example, Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick. I really have no idea what that song is about, as far as I'm concerned, its lyrics are pretentious nonsense, but each section flows into the next much better than a typical studio release.

Then there are some concept albums that don't even have a 'message' like you're demanding. Take Thrice's Alchemy Index, I don't think that has a message, it's just songs united by a central theme of 'water' 'air', etc. Once again, however, the songs tie together musically much better than a typical album.

So the real problem with your argument is that you're demanding something from concept albums that doesn't really represent the reason that concept albums are made. But even so, I could point to Symphony X's "The Odyssey" (I don't really like them anymore, but whatever) which is very plainly and literally a retelling of Homer's epic poem with metal music. You can read the lyrics and you won't be confused. Or Arjen Anthony Lucassen's "Star One" which is a concept album of songs written about scifi movies, and if you've seen the movies in question, you can totally guess what movie they're about even though the title is never spoken.

#57 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

@akyho: Was there any indication that Discovery was a concept album in the two years before Interstella 5555 came out though? You certainly can't extrapolate the events of that film by listening to the album on its own.

#58 Posted by Akyho (1585 posts) -

@evilnights: wait no. sorry wrong names and such. It is discovery. Also I said I was dense and simply said "It flows well when animated." It also does flow well non animated. However I am dense and abstract concepts are lost on me most times. It was a demonstration on my poor concept album knowledge.

#59 Edited by ilikeost (9 posts) -

Dumbest fucking topic I've seen on a forum in a long time. What a fucking moron you are... Jesus christ!

You want one example? Sure here is one.

Album:

Mastodon - Leviathan

Concept:

It's a concept album based loosely on Moby Dick and the main topic is obsession.

Lyrics for the first track:

I think that someone is trying to kill me

Infecting my blood and destroying my mind

No man of the flesh could ever stop me

The fight for this fish is a fight to the death

White whale - holy grail

What remorseless emperor commands me

I no longer govern my soul

I am completely immersed in darkness

As I turn my body away from the sun

White whale - holy grail

Split your lungs with blood and thunder

When you see the white whale

Break your backs and crack your oars men

If you wish to prevail

This ivory leg is what propels me

Harpoons thrust in the sky

Aim directly for his crooked brow

And look him straight in the eye

White whale - holy grail

White whale - holy grail

Obvious enough for you?

Online
#60 Posted by sp0rkeh (38 posts) -

How about Ready to Die by the Notorious BIG or Vaudeville Villain by Viktor Vaughn? I would consider these to be concept albums because the lyrics reflect the personality traits of the characters they are playing.

#61 Edited by phuzzybunny (171 posts) -

I do love a good concept album whether or not I can discern the concept myself or not.Take The Mars Volta's concept album "Frances the Mute". That album is fantastic (if not a little laborious at times listening to frogs for 4 minutes) but the concept can not be figured out just by reading the lyrics or listening to it imo. Now Mastodon's album "Crack the Skye" is a fairly easy story to follow and the music is great. I'm a fan of both. If I can't figure out the story myself that doesn't discredit the concept because the artist(s) who wrote it had the concept in their head the whole time.

#62 Posted by Hunter5024 (5543 posts) -

I hate when artists tell me what their music is about. Let me interpret it for myself, cause I guarantee what I think of will be far more interesting to me than what it really is.

#63 Posted by ajamafalous (11850 posts) -

It sounds to me like you just aren't very good at interpreting figurative language or metaphors.

#64 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid M.A.A.D. City is a concept album that attempts to portray the rapper's upbringing in Compton, and is considered one of the best rap albums to come out last year.

One of my first thoughts after he said "Pink Floyd = nonsense," very immediate and apparent throughout the album. The College Dropout and The Love Below immediately come to mind, too. It's weird, though; rap/hip-hop has definitely accomplished portraying "the real," which is why it's sad to me that Deltron 3030 is one of the few rap albums that represents something beyond the real.

Also, it sounds like OP is maybe just not so good at lyrical analysis or is intentionally difficult to work with in regards to it, so that's as long as I'm staying here. Concept albums can be very powerful.

#65 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

@akyho: To be fair, I've even seen reviews circa 2001 that describe it as "something of a concept album" but only really garnered that from the guys dressing funny and acting strange in interviews.

I can think of a few concept albums that are called such because they were packaged or presented in a weird way, but don't necessarily have a narrative to them instead of recurring themes.

Also, if you really wanted to annoy people you could argue both NWA albums are concept albums, since it's four guys rapping about various crimes that only one of them might have committed. That practically fits in with the 'fictional band' genre.

#66 Posted by Akyho (1585 posts) -

@evilnights: How about I start throwing up Insane Clown Posse? Those dudes claim every album is a concept album and no one listens to confirm it.

#67 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

@akyho: I'm happy to blindly accept that.

#68 Edited by Brenderous (1097 posts) -

Prog Rock, bro.

#69 Posted by Elwoodan (761 posts) -

Already seen the Protomen mentioned a few times but seriously.

The Protomen are basically a concept band.

#70 Posted by MikkaQ (10268 posts) -

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

So you want an work of music that just lays it all out on the surface, lacks metaphor and possesses no depth? Sounds boring. Music is art and art doesn't need to be literal to be good. In fact, it's often better when it's not because then it looks like the artist put actual thought into it, instead of making up a story, making it rhyme and slapping music over it.

Anyway I don't want to be the dick that says "you just need to get it, man", but you just need to get it, man. I'm terrible at interpreting and understanding lyrics myself, but once I read an explanation then go back to the album lyrics, the connections do start to make sense, it's not all just pretentious art-drivel.

#71 Posted by Maajin (1052 posts) -

IM JUST KIDDING, PLEASE DON'T KILL ME.

#72 Posted by Drakoji (220 posts) -

@maajin: Well it is a good concept album.

If MCR could something well is stick to a theme / concept, you can judge them on other aspects for all I care.

#73 Edited by punkxblaze (2957 posts) -

@jouseldelka said:

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Isn't Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds essentially a concept album?

But yes, in most cases I'd have to agree. Generally one doesn't identify albums as concept albums until the person making explicitly states it as such, and as much as I like Year Zero, I wouldn't know that was supposed to be a concept album if Reznor hadn't done a bunch of interviews saying so and there hadn't been a load of weird websites prior to its release.

Plus there's the whole argument of "loose concept", where even the vaguest recurring elements are tied together to form a largely implied narrative, or the best one of all, where I read AFI's Sing The Sorrow was "a concept album with the tracks mixed up", which I'm sure you could say about anything.

I always thought Year Zero's concept was pretty clear, even without the interviews. It paints a pretty transparent picture of a post-disaster society ruled by military force. I would argue that a concept album is a piece of art (Well, okay, most good music is, but stick with me here), and doesn't necessarily have to stand alone to get its message across. It can, and many albums of that nature have, but in Year Zero's case the weird websites are every bit as much a part of the art as the album is, and help tell the story.

Man, I did a really terrible job articulating what I was trying to get across there. I guess what I mean to say is in cases like Year Zero, and I'm sure a few other concept albums as well, the album itself is just a piece in a larger picture.

#74 Edited by PsychedelicET (104 posts) -

#75 Posted by jimmy_p (278 posts) -

@juzie: David Lynch would make his head explode

#76 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7051 posts) -

Excellent concept album revolving around Moby Dick.

And this one is about Kendrick Lamar's life and upbringing in Compton and how destructive the gang life and peer pressure are.

#77 Posted by Red (5994 posts) -

Seconded.

Also, music lyrics don't have to have a specific meaning. Ambiguity in lyrics can actually be pretty great. I can listen to the same song at different times and get different messages that cater exactly to the situation I'm in.

#78 Posted by Milkman (16530 posts) -

Is there a word more useless than "pretentious?" No, concept albums are not a load of pretentious nonsense. What a ridiculous opinion to have.

#79 Edited by EvilNiGHTS (1093 posts) -

@punkxblaze said:

@evilnights said:

@jouseldelka said:

Please prove me wrong and provide ONE concept album that actually has interrelated tracks with a clear-enough message conveyed through artistic lyricism and an album cover that is RELATED to that content, and not just a pretentious modern art scribble.

Isn't Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds essentially a concept album?

But yes, in most cases I'd have to agree. Generally one doesn't identify albums as concept albums until the person making explicitly states it as such, and as much as I like Year Zero, I wouldn't know that was supposed to be a concept album if Reznor hadn't done a bunch of interviews saying so and there hadn't been a load of weird websites prior to its release.

Plus there's the whole argument of "loose concept", where even the vaguest recurring elements are tied together to form a largely implied narrative, or the best one of all, where I read AFI's Sing The Sorrow was "a concept album with the tracks mixed up", which I'm sure you could say about anything.

I always thought Year Zero's concept was pretty clear, even without the interviews. It paints a pretty transparent picture of a post-disaster society ruled by military force. I would argue that a concept album is a piece of art (Well, okay, most good music is, but stick with me here), and doesn't necessarily have to stand alone to get its message across. It can, and many albums of that nature have, but in Year Zero's case the weird websites are every bit as much a part of the art as the album is, and help tell the story.

Man, I did a really terrible job articulating what I was trying to get across there. I guess what I mean to say is in cases like Year Zero, and I'm sure a few other concept albums as well, the album itself is just a piece in a larger picture.

I'd agree that the narrative of Year Zero is more directly suggested than what The Downward Spiral was supposed to be trying to put across (as that's supposedly a concept album as well), but I guess I'll never know for sure how well it works independently since I'll never have the experience of listening to it for the first time disconnected from the stuff that led up to its release. Any narrative I've garnered from it I was able to do so because I was paying attention to outside sources for months beforehand. So, as far as that element is concerned, it may be interesting to hear about it from the perspective of someone who wasn't already a NIN fan.

In terms of what the original poster is asking for, I'd have to say no, because it's part of a larger puzzle, even if the album is undoubtedly the most important part. And a number of more isolated albums suggested (such as the Mastodon and Iron Maiden efforts) are reinterpretations of existing works of fiction, even the Jeff Wayne album I mentioned.

I did consider how Marilyn Manson ended up referring to Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood as a trilogy of concept albums, and I did get into those after the zeitgeist at least, but in those I only find the basic story arc really hinted at in brief snippets of Mechanical Animals. Even then I think that's grasping at straws.

#80 Edited by evanbower (1210 posts) -

I think you also need to understand where the term "concept album" comes from, and maybe if you did you wouldn't judge it so strictly. The music industry was singles-based until the mid-to-late sixties, and LP's were basically a way for record companies to throw a bunch of singles on a record, fill the remaining space with some filler, and resell those singles for more money to customers who weren't keeping up to date with the 7" records as they were released. So a "concept album," a term that became popular with the Beatles and Sgt. Peppers, was really more of an idea that the album would be cohesive, and songs would relate to each other and be tracked in a certain order in a more deliberate way than had been done previously.

The term isn't very useful any more since this is what we now expect from an album. Even the most shameless pop album usually has some sort of concept conceit beyond "here are a bunch of tracks in whatever order."

#81 Edited by Nitrocore (369 posts) -

The only Stone Sour Album I like is Come whatever may, I didn't think much of House of Gold and Bones pt 1, haven't heard pt 2 though.

"Rick Florino of Artistdirect stated "Ultimately, this is a milestone for Stone Sour and for modern rock music. It's on par with Alice In Chains' Dirt, Metallica's Master of Puppets, Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf, Soundgarden's Superunknown"

I think not.

#82 Posted by Three0neFive (2288 posts) -

Opeth, Mastadon, Dream Theater, Protomen... Y'know, this board is alright.

#83 Posted by JouselDelka (967 posts) -

Ok this thread was very insightful for me, I'm considering the possibility that I'm simply thick in the head when it comes to metaphors and poetry, but there were also some very interesting and different approaches that people have to concept music and its ambiguity.

I picked the answer that helped my perspective the most!

#84 Posted by crazyleaves (640 posts) -

Possibly.

#85 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

I'm tempted to bring up The Mars Volta but I guess we're talking about comprehensible, easily digestible albums here. I guess Deltron 3030 is my pick then:

@akyho said:

Good call!

#86 Posted by jaycrockett (429 posts) -

Wait, you have listened to Pink Floyd's Animals (one of the best rock albums of all time) at least fifteen times and you don't understand the lyrics? I get the first couple times, because there is a lot of amazing music to absorb, but after, I don't know, five or six listens you don't crack the liner notes?

You must be looking for something a broad definition of concept album doesn't cover. Like a rock opera maybe? Like all the lyrics are spoken by a character? Maybe everything goes in a particular time sequence?

#87 Edited by Juzie (167 posts) -

The Giantbomb Dictionary:

Overrated:- Something that you realize is probably really good but doesn't suite your own personal taste.

Pretentious:- Something I don't understand and since I am more intelligent than everyone else on the forum it obviously must suck it can't be that i'm just not as intelligent as I think I am.

#88 Posted by ThePickle (4153 posts) -
@juzie said:

The Giantbomb Dictionary:

Overrated:- Something that you realize is probably really good but doesn't suite your own personal taste.

Pretentious:- Something I don't understand and since I am more intelligent than everyone else on the forum it obviously must suck it can't be that i'm just not as intelligent as I think I am.

I want to frame this post and hang it on my wall.

#89 Posted by Everyones_A_Critic (6287 posts) -

I'm not a fan of The Antlers but Hospice effected me in ways that very few albums ever had. It instantly brings me back to a very specific period of my life, and I honestly get nauseous listening to it now. But in a good way. It's fucking draining to listen to but is damn well worth it.

I'm sure someone has already said Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid Maad City but it deserves another mention. I don't even really like Kendrick's music but that album is incredibly vivid and listens like a movie.

#90 Posted by Slay3r1583 (600 posts) -

Weird coincidence but The Dark Saga by Iced Earth just popped up on my mp3 player.

That's right it's a concept album all about Spawn. Lyrics It is a really good metal album regardless of your opinion of the character.

Also check out Sabaton. They are kind of a concept band as almost all their songs are about historical wars and such.

#91 Edited by csl316 (8114 posts) -

El Cielo by dredg is crazy pretentious but oh so good!

#92 Edited by McGhee (6094 posts) -

I could also name some prog but Kaki King's album "Junior" is about spy stuff. It's pretty great!

#93 Posted by punkxblaze (2957 posts) -

Ok this thread was very insightful for me, I'm considering the possibility that I'm simply thick in the head when it comes to metaphors and poetry, but there were also some very interesting and different approaches that people have to concept music and its ambiguity.

I picked the answer that helped my perspective the most!

Well, in a way, that really is the best thing about music-- it's all subjective. Even a concept album can be interpreted in different ways, from how the artists themselves tell you it's supposed to be, to totally missing the narrative and just enjoying the songs.

#94 Posted by moondogg (169 posts) -

There is also a lot of classical music, whilst not really albums they do fit the bill of a concept record. The 4 seasons, holsts planet suite.

#95 Posted by Sploder (917 posts) -

I'm a doctor and I prescribe you a dose of Devin Townsend presents Ziltoid the Omniscient

#96 Posted by Tarsier (1056 posts) -

Ok this thread was very insightful for me, I'm considering the possibility that I'm simply thick in the head when it comes to metaphors and poetry, but there were also some very interesting and different approaches that people have to concept music and its ambiguity.

I picked the answer that helped my perspective the most!

yay

#97 Posted by CheapPoison (724 posts) -

@sploder said:

I'm a doctor and I prescribe you a dose of Devin Townsend presents Ziltoid the Omniscient

Grab a nice cup of coffee while you are at it!

#98 Edited by notdavid (821 posts) -

A concept album doesn't have to tell a linear story. There could just be a unifying thread that inspires the album as a whole. Take Life of the World to Come by the Mountain Goats. Each song is an interpretation of a verse from the Christian Bible. Then there are albums like Christopher Tin's Calling All Dawns, which use totally different instrumentation and vocal languages from song to song, but have reoccurring melodies.

I'm also surprised to see no one mention Tommy, which actually DID tell a straightforward, linear story.

#99 Posted by LunyAlex (7 posts) -

Stone Sour's House of Bones and Gold Pt. 2 is pretty fantastic in my humble opinion.
Part 1 still smelled of Audio Secrecy.

#100 Posted by mellotronrules (1172 posts) -

@red said:

@vonocourt said:

Seconded.

Also, music lyrics don't have to have a specific meaning. Ambiguity in lyrics can actually be pretty great. I can listen to the same song at different times and get different messages that cater exactly to the situation I'm in.

I'm not a fan of The Antlers but Hospice effected me in ways that very few albums ever had. It instantly brings me back to a very specific period of my life, and I honestly get nauseous listening to it now. But in a good way. It's fucking draining to listen to but is damn well worth it.

I'm sure someone has already said Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid Maad City but it deserves another mention. I don't even really like Kendrick's music but that album is incredibly vivid and listens like a movie.

i was content to just passively read this thread, but the unbridled admiration of 'hospice' has lead me to throwing my hat in the ring. what a strikingly beautiful and utterly devastating record. and in my experience, criminally unrecognized (there are plenty that extol it's virtues, but i feel like i'm always the guy recommending it to people in my social circles).

it also has one of the best opening lines to an album i've ever encountered- "i wish that i had known in that first minute we met, the unpayable debt that i owed you."

as far as concept albums go- i think it's important to place them in their proper context. there was a time when ALBUMS, let alone concept records, were a novel idea. pop music comes from radio, which lead to 45s, which lead to records as a collection of singles. and then one day someone thought, 'hey- what if all these songs worked TOGETHER as a cohesive artistic message?' so there was a period where the 'concept' record was innovative. but now, like most things, it's been done- so the strength of the record lies in the novelty of the concept rather than the format or rubric itself.

are there pretentious concept records? absolutely. but they're probably (more importantly) fundamentally bad records if they're utterly unrelatable without a 45 minute explanation.