Episode 7 – Of Solos and their Percentage in Metal

You can listen to the episode here!

Just as we did with the concept of ‘Epicity’ in Episode 1 of Nerdometrics, my cousin (and Heavy metal aficionado) Jon Palombi and I sat down this episode to arrive at the ‘soloin-est’ metal records of all time.

And much like with Epicity, the sheer volume of metal both Jon and I listened to throughout our lives allowed us to perform a lot of pre-selection here.  The goal was to get representative albums of groups known for their guitar virtuosity and chose the following:

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Slayer – Reign in Blood
Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – Marching Out
Helmet – Meantime
Megadeth – Rust in Peace
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Guns n Roses – Appetite for Destruction
Vinnie Vincent Invasion
Joe Satriani – Flying in a  Blue Dream
Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare

I like to think this is a good sample of what’s out there – although there are hundreds of other albums we could have chosen (other ‘Sunset Strip’ bands like Motley Crue or LA Guns instead of Guns n Roses, other thrash bands like Exodus, Overkill and Testament, other ‘guitar gods like Paul Gilbert who I refer to his as ‘Brad’ during the episode) these albums are pretty representative.  Plus, odds are every metal fan is familiar with these records, whether they loved them, listened to them or just ‘knew’ about them). I don’t think the results would vary that much if we substituted those lesser-known subgenre bands.

Now, an obvious note: even just looking at that list, you see some clear stratification there; Steve Vai and Joe Satriani make pure solo records that fit thematically more with jazz than metal (as pointed out by Jon in the audio).  So they’re going to be fighting it out in their own arena.  Omitting those from the list it sure sets up to be a two-horse race between Yngwie Malmsteen and Vinnie Vincent, well-know guitar noodlers. But questions still exist: how much more do they solo than everyone else? When you listen to a metal record that ‘feels right’ in terms of how much soloing there is, what percentage is that?  And are some preconceived notions about bands like Guns n Roses and Slayer true?

METHODOLOGY

I listened to all these songs with a stopwatch, noting length of the song and length of solos.  The percentages we used are for ‘guitar solo percentage for the entire album’, though there are some fun things we can do with the numbers on a song-by song basis (perhaps as an addendum to the episode).

THE FINDINGS

The results are below (pics of the numbers), so peruse them as you will!

You can listen to the episode here!

stats-solos-2

stats-solos-3

stats-solos-4

And,

SPOILER ALERT FOR EPISODE CONTENTS –

here’s how the albums ended up.

N07 Solo Graphic

Jon and I discuss the majority of the findings on the podcast, so make sure to listen here!

I do want to mention a couple post-show notes – Guns n Roses charted high! I was surprised to see how high they ended up, considering I find ‘Appetite for Destruction’ somewhat tasteful in its soloing.  I’m intrigued enough to where I’d like to listen to a few more hair metal albums and see if generally those type of albums result in a higher percentage of solos on average than say thrash metal (my hunch is they would).

CORRECTIONS

1. Vinnie Vincent actually won!  It turns out my spreadsheet had an error at the time we recorded, and it turns out Jon and I’s desire to proclaim Vinnie Vincent was weel-founded and correct.

2. Oh, and as mentioned in the episode, ‘Master of Reality’ by Black Sabbath – a post-show addition to see how Tommy Iommi fared – ended up at 10.3 %. Only Helmet charts lower.

3. I wanted to address an omission many people might notice: DRAGONFORCE.  They were part of the initial design of the episode, but got cut in the early stages.  To quote Jon: “We made a conscious decision to leave them out, there wasn’t enough room for showboating.” Well, there is a little room here – I listened through the ‘Inhuman Rampage’ album and it registered at a whopping 32.4 % (barely shy of Yngwie Malmsteen). The only thing keeping it from being even higher? That keyboard/keytar solos don’t count, otherwise it would have gone even higher.

FINAL NOTES ON THE EPISODE: The portion of this episode with Jon was recorded immediately after Episode 1 (the most epic metal song ever), I recorded both during a visit to Philadelphia in June 2013.   I mention that because there are a fair amount of references to the “Epicity” episode since it was fresh in our minds, so if you haven’t listened to that you may want to check that out prior to this one.  Also, when we recorded I wasn’t able to complete my research for the episode and had not listened to Meantime (but it came in as I thought), Appetite for Destruction (which scored higher than I thought) and the rest of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (which ended up jumping a few spots in the rankings based on the second half of the album). So keep that in mind when you listen!

Oh, and don’t forget to click these links below for some videos!

‘I’ll See the Light Tonight’ by Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force

‘Boys are Gonna Rock’ (I don’t want to spoil it, but things start to get awesome at the 3:55 mark) by Vinnie Vincent Invasion