About a week ago we finished posting our list of the Ten Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of 2009. Finishing the list turned out to be a bit of a struggle because your NCS Co-Authors had more favorites than we had open slots on the list. And each of us had some infectious favorites on our short lists that didn’t survive the final negotiations among us — but they just missed by a nose. So we’re going to roll out those songs now. It’s the next best thing to just reneging on our commitment to make our list a “Top Ten” and instead renaming it the “Top Fourteen.”
Lamb of God enjoys such a hallowed place in the pantheon of extreme metal that thousands wait with bated breath for each new release — and then, when it comes, promptly engage in vociferous debate about whether it compares favorably or not to the monster hits of the band’s past. Wrath was LOG’s first release in over two years, and predictably generated a war of words about whether LOG had lived up to its fans’ stratospheric expectations, and about what it signified about the band’s future trajectory.
We won’t engage in comparisons of the album to LOG’s ground-breaking work of the past: Considered on its own merits, it’s a well-engineered, riff-filled barrage of headbangery by some brilliant song-writers and musicians.
“Infectious” is Lamb of God’s middle name, but our most infectious favorite from Wrath is the first song that appears on the album after the (very cool) instrumental intro. “In Your Words” launches with an insistent, immediately headbangable riff, followed by an extended scream from the almighty Randy Blythe (whose versatile vocals throughout the album are superb) and a crushing drum attack – and we’re off to the races. At about the 2:30 mark, the song defuses into a pounding breakdown and then culminates in an extended cascading wall of pulsing, groovy, tremolo-picked melody. So damn cool! See for yourself and then continue reading after the jump for our last three finalists:
ANIMALS AS LEADERS: Tempting Time
Animals As Leaders is the one-man instrumental project of D.C. 7- and 8-string guitar phenom Tosin Abasi, which he began after his previous band Reflux called it quits. AAL’s self-titled debut hit the streets last April and made quite the splash. Abasi is an interesting, articulate guy, as you can see in this fascinating interview. On the album, he laid down the guitar and bass tracks and had an engineer program synth drums and “all the glitchy sounds in the recording.” The result is one truly awesome collection of heavy progressive music.
All three of your NCS Co-Authors thought the album was sick, and all of us especially liked the first track, “Tempting Time.” To be honest, but for the fact that we had already included two instrumentals in our Top Ten (from Pelican and Scale the Summit), “Tempting Time” would have been on the list. Fucking brilliant song. Treat yourself to a listen:
DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT: Addicted!
Unless you were living in a cave during 2009, you probably know that Devin Townsend is in the middle of a project to create four albums. In interviews and blogs, Townsend has explained that he wrote the music to all four during the same period of time, but each album will feature different musicians, different co-vocalists, and different musical styles and themes representing different aspects of Townsend’s personality and musical interests.
The first two albums appeared in 2009 — first Ki and then, in November, Addicted!. Townsend admits that Addicted! was his attempt to create what he calls “easy” music — the kind of up-beat, pop-oriented rock that he enjoyed as a kid. When you listen to Addicted!, you can understand why he says that, but this is still way beyond the kind of pablum that passes for pop music these days. Townsend is a brilliant musician, a versatile singer, and a one-of-a-kind creative mind — and the range of his interests and abilities is on display in Addicted!.
Well, maybe not quite the full range. You won’t find what Townsend himself calls the “visceral and psychotic element” of Strapping Young Lad. But if that’s what you’re after, don’t give up. Townsend is now at work on the third album in the project, to be called Deconstruction, and it sounds like that one will be a much heavier slab of metal that will include, among other things, death vocals.
All the songs on Addicted! have an addictive quality to them, but one stood out as a strong candidate for our “most infectious” list, and that was the title track. Not surprisingly (given that this site is called NO CLEAN SINGING), it’s also the one song that involves the most raucous vocals. It’s head-pounding, mind-bending fun. Check it out:
While we’re talking about creative genius, let’s talk about Brendon Small. He’s the co-creator and co-writer of the hugely popular animated show Metalocalypse, which tracks the exploits of legendary death metal band Dethklok. He provides the voice-overs for three of the Dethklok band members, he composes the songs, and he provides the vocals and most of the instrumentals in Dethklok’s music. And that’s just his Metalocalypse venture.
In one sense, Dethklok is a later-day Spinal Tap — a vehicle for satirizing heavy metal (and all sorts of other things). But the fictional band’s music, however much it may have been created by Small with tongue in cheek, has proven to be immensely appealing. And what completely sealed the deal was the co-headlining tour that “Dethklok” did with Mastodon, Converge, and High on Fire during 2009. Your NCS Co-Authors caught that show when it passed through Seattle this fall. In the case of Dethklok, we really didn’t know what to expect. That particular night, Dethklok followed Mastodon, and we assumed we were in for an anti-climax. That ain’t what we got.
What we got was a group of amazingly talented touring musicians playing some incredibly well-executed heavy shit — and somehow doing it in sync with animations of Dethklok on a big screen behind and above them. Brendon Small’s guitar work and vocals were particularly impressive. Outrageously headbangable fun! And so is the 2009 collection of groove-oriented death metal released by “Dethklok” to coincide with that tour. One song, in particular, from Dethklok II made our short list of Most Infectious tunes from 2009. You can listen to it via the link below, and, Dethklok being what it is, we thought it would be appropriate to include the video too.
And here’s the video of Dethklok performing “Bloodlines”: