Searching for chilled metal

It seems like every heavy metal band has at least one chill-out song – from Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters to Led Zeppelin’s That’s the Way.   These tracks give some relief from the otherwise relentless pounding of the hammer of the gods.  It’d be nice to be able to collect up a bunch of these chilled-metal songs into a playlist – perfect for when your mom’s visiting (she tells me that she doesn’t like pounding metal).

ChilLed Zeppelin - Some rights (by-nc-sa) reserved by Heinrich Klaffs

To find chilled metal, we can use The Echo Nest API.  The Echo Nest has calculated a wide range of acoustic and musical attributes for millions of songs. One such attribute is energy .  We can make  a simple song/search query for heavy metal songs that have low energy.  These will be our chilled-metal songs that your mom enjoys so much.  Here’s the API query:

http://developer.echonest.com/api/v4/song/search?&style=heavy+metal&sort=energy-asc

This query searches for songs by heavy metal artists, and sorts the results in order of ascending energy (so the lowest energy tracks will be returned first).  The query does a really good job of finding chilled metal.  Here’s a sampling of the results:


Sphinx (The Guardian) by Black Sabbath

Sphinx (The Guardian) by Black Sabbath  – energy: 0.0003


Demon Driver reprise by Gillan

Demon Drive by Gillan - energy: 0.010


The Return by Saxon

The Return by Saxon – energy: 0.013


Solitude by Judas Priest

Solitude by Judas Priest  – energy: 0.049


Joan of Arc by UFO

Joan of Arc by UFO – Energy: 0.05


Fear by Black Label Society

Fear by Black Label Society Energy – 0.119


You can also use the Echo Nest Playlist API to generate a chilled metal playlist.   Here’s a call to create a playlist of chilled metal in XSPF format.

http://developer.echonest.com/api/v4/playlist/static?api_key=N6E4NIOVYMTHNDM8J&style=heavy+metal&max_energy=.1&type=artist-description&bucket=id:7digital&bucket=tracks&limit=true&format=xspf

You can toss this playlist into a player like VLC or Songbird that supports XSPF and start listening to chilled metal right away (30 second samples only) like this:

% curl 'http://developer.echonest.com/api/v4/playlist/static?api_key=N6E4NIOVYMTHNDM8J\
   &style=heavy+metal&max_energy=.1\
   &type=artist-description&bucket=id:7digital&bucket=tracks&limit=true\
   &format=xspf' > chilled-metal.xspf
% open chilled-metal.xspf

There you go, you now have all the tools you need to keep your chilled metal queue filled and fresh, almost everything you need to keep your mom happy.

Thanks much to 7Digital for providing audio clips and album art.

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  1. #1 by J Herskowitz (@jherskowitz) on August 18, 2011 - 8:36 am

    Or you could just create that playlist inside Tomahawk (which is making the same exact calls to the same API under the hood) and listen to full tracks based on all the sources you have available. :P

  2. #2 by Dave (@cscohammer) on August 18, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    I like the idea of using Tomahawk (since it has a Spotify resolver), but what about a step to generate a Spotify playlist if that is the client I want to use? Anyone take a crack at that?

    • #3 by lfranchi on August 18, 2011 - 3:08 pm

      Generating a spotify playlist (and in general managing your spotify playlists in tomahawk) will be supported in Tomahawk 0.3. Or at least that’s my goal for when to finish it by.

  3. #4 by Marni on August 18, 2011 - 6:44 pm

    Ok, I am “the mom” and a novice Spotify user. Heretofore, all my playlists have come from the kids. Two questions:
    – when will Spotify allow me to ask for “loudest songs” or “chilled heavy metal” in natural language? Am I missing this?
    – can this blog take special requests? – like can you find other songs with what I might call “good foreplay” a la Moby’s Everloving? (Remember – be kind – this is the mom – don’t gag on the choice of song).
    Thanks for creating and sharing these examples.

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