Hello fellow metalheads and welcome to a post that will put the division symbol in m/. Metal music is not unlike a cult or gang, and any self-respecting gang has its own hand sign. For metal, it has been the metal horns. When you point at someone, you point 3 fingers at yourself; but when you do metal horns at someone, you point two to the ground, two to the sky, and your thumb to the side while you flash them with the European-popular symbol for being cuckolded and the hand symbol of about a dozen colleges. When metal fans post online, that symbol looks like this: m/. Or this: \m/. Or, according to wikipedia, this: \../ or /../.
The humble m/ can be taken as an endorsement of the quality or “metalness” of a piece of metal music; how often an m/ is associated with something is as good a proxy as any for this quality. So what if some brave soul counted these m/’s and disseminated this information to the world?
For this post, I went back to the album data from my Top 250 Users app data, and scraped comment data from the flagged reviews of 593 albums which were those that had any metal genre tag, had greater than a 4.0 average rating, and more than 200 ratings (all the data used to select albums was collected around November of 2016, so this sample is missing albums that have come out since, and that might have reached those criteria by now). If any set of albums were going to have a lot of m/’s it would be the popular, high quality metal albums. All data was scraped around March 30th 2018, except Vektor’s Outer Isolation which I scraped April 7th 2018 after realizing that it didn’t scrape initially because it had a deprecated link.
I searched the comments with a regular expression to extract the number of times an m/ was written in each comment. Specifically, this one:
m_regex <- '\\\\m/|\\\\M/|m//|m/m/|M//|M/M/|^m/$|^M/$|(\\s|^)m/|(\\s|^)M/|/m/|/M/|\\\\m\\\\|\\\\M\\\\'
That regular expression counts the standard m/-type comments like “\m/” and “m//” while not counting things like “dm/doom”. However, because I’m not very well versed in regular expression, that particular regex has some limitations. It under-counts comments that look like this “m/m/m/”; specifically, that string would get counted as having only 2 m/’s. Also, if someone went chaotic with their m/’ing like “mmmm//mmm\\ m//m m/\” it would not count each m separately.
One final note, one that deserves it’s own sentence-paragraph, I removed the comment from each album that had the most m/’s as an excuse to remove Sinternet’s comment (found here) that had 150+ m/’s and included the text “thrashisgay”. Obviously, I had to.
So, in this particular sample, how much have people been using m/’s throughout the years?
It looks like m/’s started to rise in count in the mid 2011’s and have seemed to out-gain the overall comment counts since.
So, what albums of these albums has the most m/’s per comment? Well, to better answer this question, I went back to my friend, the lower bound of the 95% credible interval. Now, its not technically appropriate since comments can have more than one m/ in each comment, and really this data is probably more distributed like a zero-inflated Poisson distribution, but in order to calculate the 95% credible interval of a Poisson distribution, I would have to do much more complicated and time-consuming processing. So, for each album, I ranked the count of m/’s per comment by the lower bound of the 95% credible interval that assumes the data is binomially distributed.
For the complete album rank list, see here.
I also did it to rank users.
And, finally, I did it for genres. Any non-Metal genre tags listed are a result of being one of the other 2 genres for a given album. Full list here.
Industrial leads, largely, because this isn’t a representative sample. It’s made up of 14 album threads, while thrash and death metal have more than 100. Because of how genres are tagged, Morbid Angel also counts towards Industrial. Also, a couple of Strapping Young Lad Albums are counted toward Industrial.
Maybe a more interesting question to ask in regards to which album threads are very m/-worthy, is how many have a lot more m/’s than they should. Now, I have a lot of data and this could be done much more rigorously with a multi-level model, but instead I stayed simple and subtracted how many m/’s per comment the users of a thread had in the entire dataset by the the amount of m/’s per comment in that album thread and multiplied it by the number of comments (for each album, (user m/’s – album m/’s) * album comments) to get the m/’s over expected m/’s. In simpler terms, these are albums that had more m/’s than users who commented in it would suggest.
More interesting, probably, is the albums with the least m/’s over expected. These are album threads that have less m/’s than you would expect, give who is commenting in them. For full list, see here.
Full script to recreate all this here. Note that it takes probably half a day to scrape data from all the album threads.
(Now, an apology. I wasn’t able to figure out a way to consistently color the genres with colors that carried over between plots. Also, I could not always fit the x-axis, so the I had to rotate text, it looks like a headache. I also had to shrink plots to fit into the blog, full size images, if you are so inclined, can be found in the github page.)
There was a contest with this post to see who could guess a thread with the most m/’s per comment. And… Contest Winner is… ScuroFantasma
|Immolation-Close-to-a-World-Below||0.041||5||Demon of the Fall|
As promised in my Stat Tank list, I granted Frippertronics a mini-interview for suggesting I do this specific post.
Hey fripp, ready to get this interview started?
Sure am, mac
Cool, first up, frippertronics sounds like a prominent but not tent-pole comic book character in the Statnik Extended Cinematic Universe, what are his super powers, his motivations, and does he have a cool catchphrase?
Starting off with an interesting one, I see. In this, my powers are the ability of endlessly recommending prog albums to people who never asked for them and overhyping many artists. Hell, my motives are to spread good music all round, for better or worse. And considering I have not a single shred of originality in me, I have borrowed a ye olde relic to be my catchphrase: “nicer dicer.”
Wow, “nicer dicer”? That kind of thing got people banned before. I can see why Statnik Universe creator Stat.ly didn’t make you a major player. Are you worried about your chances in the Infinity (Limit) War?
Oh, please. My chances, in the the scheme of things, is just as poor as everyone else’s. It can be said this is just me in denial of being far lower on the totem pole, but who knows?
Let’s just say get your bets in on the dead pool as soon as you can. Alright, let’s move off those math-related meta-jokes to other math-related meta-jokes. I am starting to write the next Statnik (this one right here that you are reading) and I don’t know if you or the other 12 people that read these have noticed that I always start my posts with a particular sentence structure. It goes “Hello fellow [X] and welcome to [Y]” and the X is the audience but I change it to suit something about the topic. The Y is what I’m gonna do in the post. So far I have this written for this post: “Hello fellow metalheads and welcome to a post that will put the division symbol after an m.” Can you think of anything better?
Hello fellow dads and welcome to your own personal display of excess
See, I was never known for being funny, so perhaps this is the best I can do (not quite).
You nailed it the first time around.
Some day I will tackle the “most dad metal album” problem, I will win awards, and get a biopic I imagine.
Alright, you suggested the “count the m/” statnik. I know that you are, quite notoriously, a big prog head that also listens to other stuff. What is your relationship to metal music?
My association with metal goes back to around the same time I joined the site, just about 5 years ago (as of this past January, actually). To a degree, I do credit the site to pushing me out of my then-ongoing “new music is bad” phase once and for all. Metal, to me, wasn’t a game changer but it was a lovely change of pace from my usual listening habits and provided challenging music to a kid’s unsuspecting ears. It’s odd, because even now, metal is nowhere near my most-listened to genre, although my interest in it ebbs and flows depending on where I’m at specifically.
As for the “prog head” reputation I may retain, I’ve never, for the life of me, could figure out the deal with prog metal. It’s atrocious stuff.
But BTBAM… Contortionist… Meshuggah (if that counts)… are good, right?
One thing that is strange about sputnik (beyond its early 2000’s web layout aesthetic, of course) is that metal is somewhat a default genre. That just doesn’t exist in the real world, or at least the world I’ve lived in. In high school, a friend of mine suggested to a girl that she listen to Iron Maiden, and she called it “screamo”. Are you tripped out by the metal-leaning of the site?
Maybe?? Not my thing, really.
I’m a bit annoyed, to a degree, with the absurd focus people have on it, but I’ve learned to accept it as part of the site’s incredibly Web 2.0-looking ass charm. You’d find me much more annoyed with the usage of “screamo” in the context of “loud/abrasive-sounding” music, however.
So, the narrative on metal, right now, is a little bleak I would say. Metal is male-dominated, white, and there have been scandals as of late (like Decapitated). I also would say (and this is a hot take, probably) that I imagine that with how sensitive people are about media and its effect on behavior right now (like the facebook scandal, the revival of “video games cause violence” takes, and reaction to 2016 in general) that metal doesn’t have a high approval rating among non-metalheads. Where does metal go from here IRL and on sputnik?
To me, metal has always had a stigma (lest we forget that one time we were told that it was “the devil’s music” and all that shit), it’s something the genre will never escape no matter what, due to the actions of individuals and the stereotypes that are often reinforced time and time again by artists and their fans. Metal, as it is now, to me, is stuck in limbo. It cannot get any worse than it already is, but it is not progressing much further than it had, say, a decade ago.
It’s up to the fans to secure the genre’s reputation, or lack of said reputation.
I’ve maintained a thought for a while that we should be shocked anytime something original comes along. There are thousands of films/movies/music/etc. that nothing original comes out. I will say, though, that metal comes off to me as a varied genre. And one thing that unites the genre is our ability to dole out m/’s. For this post, I scraped > 500 metal albums comments sections. How many times do you think you have put out an “m/”?
A sincere “m/” or an ironic “m/”?
In both cases, a fair bit.
This is unofficial (since I haven’t completed my m/ regex, yet) but I have you with 325 comments and 0 m/’s. What would Robert Fripp say about this?
Oh damn, really? In that case, I think Boppin’ Bobby Fripp would probably put me in the corner (and tell me to buy his albums while he’s at it).
I did find this (https://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=3478&page=98). You said, on January 6, 2015: “Selkies was pretty good”. I have to ask, what would KILL say?
Really digging deep, now aren’t ya? I think KILL would call me a multitude of queef-related insults and end it with a crisp m/. I may be able to get off easy since we both like Kate Bush and the Hounds of Love thread will forever be his stomping grounds.
So, in the next statnik, I’m gonna take all this text data and make a generative text model. As a test, I took KILL’s comments (10,000 comments just about) and fit the model. 3 generated texts by that model when I set “selkies” as the first character strings are:
KILL: selkies agreed
KILL: selkies? dude what
KILL: selkies i can tell holy best gay bands but i dont like my shit is a thrash fuckin bones in the record ever
I think KILL’s message is quite clear there. haha. Alright, let’s turntable here. Ask me stuff.
A chance to pick at the brain of the statdaddy himself? Don’t mind if I do.
I know your forte is towards the mathematics-based side of music and statistics, but I think the number one curiosity is: when are you going to branch out into the wilderness known as the reviews section? The site could use a review or two that delves deep into the logistics of a 11/8 time signature and how it correlates with your models, or whatever you go by.
There was a time, before I was a staffer, that Spec and Pots wanted to do a site-wide contest to have users write Bulls of Heaven reviews (given that that BOH guy has a pretty thin skin). I even inputted all the albums and artwork into the sputnik database to test my coding skills. Alas, it never happened, but my review was going to be a python script that made a really long recording with white noise.
I might review something someday. There is very little risk since there isn’t an approval tally on staff reviews and I can just delete all the negative feedback. lol
Oof, I could just remind you of how you got “Buffaloed” recently in case you somehow get too big for your britches. (Editor’s note: Fripp is referring to his round 1 defeat of me in the Sputnik Madness list.)
Personally speaking, is there anything you dislike about the website? Outside of the dated look and the servers, that is.
When it comes to judging the quality of things, I tend to adjust my rating based on what something is trying to accomplish. This site sort of just exists, and it’s not trying to grow or get us to keep clicking like almost every big/popular website out there. There’re small things I don’t like (the weird text errors of quotation marks in reviews, the apostrophe error in the staff blog comments sections) but there aren’t big problems I have with the website.
Not exactly the most charming flaws for a site to have.
Ultimately, what is it that you’re trying to accomplish on the site in 2018?
I write the Statniks to give myself practice. By coming up with a problem that sputnik data can solve, I give myself a reason to learn some new model/language/coding style/etc. I’ll give an “athlete” response, and say “I’m just out here, trying to improve my game, and make my teammates better. “One thing that would be cool is if something we did got “aggregated” on another site, but I don’t know what that would take.
mx, if you just press the bagel button on the toasters, we’ll have our question marks again.
What if…for April Fools’
He improves the site in some sort of way
How would this go over with the site?
I wasn’t around, but there were Music Journals or something like that before. We could definitely use whatever that was in our lives again.
Musical Neighbors is something I wasn’t around for, but would love to have.
Simpsons did it, man (as in, I did it).
That was Statnik 2 I believe, though I have to update that code to account for the sites change to https, but with that code you could find your neighbor-dom to whatever users you input.
Of course, yeah.
Do I perhaps have any more questions up my sleeve?
Yes, do these things sound like things Kill would say?
KILL: in the end records and riffs
KILL: hard all over the good thrash songs bro
KILL: fripps is offended and i dont be trying to part the same thrash and not the past ever with dick off metal disause but yea i was just the best maiden is so ass
Give me an input to the model, something you want KILL to say.
So many options…
Is “Kate Bush” and “Riffs” viable?
I dont know what’s happening here, but I can’t stop laughing:
KILL: kate bush but he need the bones from even the sound record YOUR SLAZES TRUST ALL SIN THE DEATH MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Jesus, that’s not KILL…that’s KILL on steroids.
And when I did “riffs” this came up.
KILL: riffs 
Alright, any shout outs, any projects, reviews you want to plug?
Shoutout to my boi Tyler, stay silly; also try and peep whatever bad metal album Jac reviews next.