Monday, 23 August 2010

Rage Against the Numerically-applied Value System or When the Scorecards Fail

The complete lack of any kind of scores out of five, ten, percentages, chainsaws have never and have never appeared on this admittedly short-lived (so far) blog is simple: They are fucking meaningless.

Completely and utterly meaningless.

So why, by the deifically raped mother of the carpenter, are they so bastardly prevalent?! I can’t answer this. What I can do is illustrate my point.

My first argument’s easy and is essentially based on the subjectivity of reviews: Each person is going to have their own opinion on what’s good, bad or that to which they’re indifferent. It doesn’t matter whether the item being reviewed is music, literature or a motherfucking sandwich – people’s opinions are subjective.

So what does that mean for the score arbitrarily tacked on to the end of a piece? It removes any pretension to worthiness that this form of reviewing may have accumulated over the years.

But why even bother with reviews in the first place? If they are just an individual’s take on something – which is all they are – then what makes them important? What makes them useful?

A good review should not only let the reader know – in as much as is possible without hearing it for themselves – what an album sounds like. Irrelevant of the writer’s own, personal opinion, the reader should at least be left with a vague idea of what to expect. Obviously, the review is going to be biased in some way or another, skewed in favour of or against the disc in question. This is a given. But that doesn’t automatically preclude the author from communicated – in however biased a fashion – a certain degree of information with which the reader can make their own decision on whether to purchase or save their time and money.

This cannot be achieved with the asinine, arbitrary score cards which have been so accepted when it comes to the reviewing of most products.

This is no newly developed antipathy towards scores/ratings in reviews. It’s something that I’ve known for a while and something that was festering, growing and mutating within me a long time before I became aware of it; but every so often it’s brought into focus with such force and alacrity that I can’t help but comment.

As you know from previous posts, I have recently been contributing to Unlike myself, The Baboon is fond of such ratings. Fairy snuff, methought, I’ll bash out the scores for those lethargic lightweights who don’t even have the dedication to read a few hundred words but skip to the end because that’s what they’ve got used to over the interminable years of reading mainstream *cough* metal *cough* media; the majority of which bears no resemblance whatsoever to intelligent journalism having more in common with cock-sucking scrotal limpets backstage at a cock-rock gig. In both mentality and intelligence.


So anyways, there’s me, when I’ve had the chance to squeeze out a bit of the old verbose vilification, pondering over numbers and throwing something that looked about right across the room, hoping it’d stick and not slowly slide off in a limp and somewhat pathetic manner.

And it was good.

Until I wrote my reviews of Decrepit Birth and Blastanus. One of these was a massive, crushing, brutalandnotinthegoodway disappointment which clove my soul in twain and left me writhing on the floor burbling fluids for many an hour . . . although that might’ve been the yoghurt I found in the back of the fridge, who knows? The other, well . . . I wouldn’t go as far as to say it was amazing but, it was pretty good; a nice surprise from a band that could potentially be pretty fucking cool.

And this is fine. This is being a music fan. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned but the crushing disappointment is always followed by the new discovery.

The problem’s crusty cranium emerges when the numerical value system comes into play:

Decrepit Birth’s Polarity was a massive disappointment to me and failed to meet expectations so magnificently that there was no redemption for it. The only thing that elevated it above 0-3 level was the musical ability. This necessitated recognition! I couldn’t skip over this! And it was only shite compared to my expectations based on their previous release. So it had to hit the midrange. 6/10

Blastanus’ self-released Odd on the other had, shows a lot of fucking promise and a fair whack of originality. This was an exercise in point deduction: starting with a full sheet and removing them for what I felt were detracting elements on the disc. Again, due to production issues as well as a few other elements that don’t meet my personal catalogue of the praiseworthy, 6/10.

How the fuck is this a fucking, bastarding, useful fucking system for reviewing anything?!

It just doesn’t fucking make sense.

In the future I might actually just revert to an automatic number generator. That way reviews that are happily basking in the jism of awesomeness of some new release will be marked 0-1 or vice versa.

Then we’ll know who actually fucking reads this shit! *Cue completely over-the-top maniacal laughter and we’re done*

Rest assured; the Pastor keeps to the true way: The expulsion of dogma is necessary. We should not attempt to emulate our forebears, but safe in the knowledge and surety of our righteousness, forge our own path.

(5⅜ miscellaneous brutal things)


  1. Reminds me a bit of a scoring system I had at school; they had a dual-score system;
    A-F for achievement and 1-6 for effort.

    A1 in maths meant you worked hard and got a good result.
    A5 was a good result from a lazy cunt... That'd sorta work with albums - C4 for Decrepit Birth to differenciate between that and a C1 album where a band isn't capable of better but tried their hardest. Sorta.

    I think scores are only for overviews to compare albums, but this too is moot as you cannae compare Strawberries and Blowjobs.

  2. Lol - aye but people continue to try.

    We *could* in theory do some kind of similar scoring system, but where to stop? You could have A - for overall acheivment, an F for effort, an omega for extenuating circumstances etc. it'd just get absurd.

    If the scores are there to be an overview to compare albums then surely my point above about the two albums receiving the same score kinda proves the bastarding thing doesn't work either for its intended purpose or for anything else.

    I suppose, in theory, you could just have a summing up at the bottom "I thought this was BRUTAL" or "I thought this was SHITE". The only problem with that other than making you sound like a fucking primary school pupil reading a fucking book report or some shit, is that it's useless. Any fucker *actually* interested in the album will read the review. I couldn't really give a fuck about the rest of them because either a) they're not actually interested, in which case furry muffs or b) they're fucking posey cunts that just scan the scores and talk a large amount of ordure because they think it makes em "hip" or some shit.

  3. You got a good point there mate. And the subjectivity feature of reviews is nicely illustrated by the fact that I, in fact, did like Decrepit Birth's new bugger. Though it's not that I absolutely love scores, they CAN be helpful. If I myself am not sure about whether to buy something, I just read a load of reviews and check and average all the scores they gave too. Sort of a "wisdom of the crowds" thing then.

    But yeah, on the one review they're not very useful, at least not by far as useful as the actual text. The "buy this when" advice we always add is intended to be of use to "the furry muffs" and "fucking posey cunts".

  4. Just in case you didn't already guess on first sight: Njiekovic = Niek.

  5. Heh - aye, I think I'd have figured that out ;) To be honest the "buy this when" bit is, in my opinion, far more useful than a any kind of scoring system. Btw - "furry muffs" = "fairy snuff" = "fair enough". I don't really have a problem with people who aren't interested not reading reviews - afterall; they're not interested so why should they? I just hate people that feign interest/knowledge etc. It's like people that buy band shirts of bands they've never heard of in order to appear more brootal, kvlt,trooo etc