This is Part 9 of our list of the most infectious extreme metal songs released this year. Each day until the list is finished, I’m posting two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the Introduction via this link. To see the selections that preceded this one, click the Category link on the right side of the page called MOST INFECTIOUS SONGS-2011.
Today’s pairing of songs will seem like an odd decision to some people. Oh fuck, who am I kidding — it will seem like an odd pairing to almost everyone. But have a little faith. Yes, the songs contrast greatly with each other, but I think they sound great together, too, when played back to back. Obviously, I also think they’re both really infectious. Also, the names of both bands begin with the same three letters, so that counts, too. Doesn’t it?
German’s Infestus began life as a three-man band, but by the time Debemur Morti released the band’s latest album E x | I s t, Infestus had become the solo project of one very talented multi-instrumentalist named Andras. In addition to writing and performing everything on the album, Andras also recorded and mixed the music as well. The sound is clear and sharp; you can hear the contribution of every instrument, though the instruments (particularly the guitars) are often so layered that it takes multiple listens to appreciate how much thought went into the mix in order to produce the overall effect.
To steal from my own review of the album, it’s “complex, sophisticated, brilliantly composed and performed, often beautiful but always powerful, a totally engrossing and immersive listening experience” — one of the best black metal albums I’ve heard this year. Yes, I said it — it’s black metal, but for those of you who’ve already started wrinkling your noses and rolling your eyes at the thought of another one-man BM project, bear with me.
This is melodic black metal, dense and multifaceted, arranged in movements and flowing like a torrent, interrupted occasionally by indigo pools of calm. To quote myself again (and who better to quote?), “although its overall mood is grim, bereft, and occasionally forbidding, it’s never dreary or lacking in interest.”
When I wrote that review last May, I picked one song as an example of how Andras constructed the music, dissecting it in what now strikes me as painful detail. I’m not going to do that again. I’ll just say that a lot happens in this relatively long song, and although it’s memorably melodic, it’s also a heavy-as-fuck headbanger’s workout. I’ll stream it for you after a few words about today’s second song.
I don’t think I’ve yet met a metalhead who has never been a fan of In Flames at some point in his or her life. Everyone seems to have at least one album, appearing somewhere in the band’s extensive discography, that meant something to them. They’ve been a gateway band to many (including yours truly) and a significant influence on the music of countless other bands.
On the other hand, they’ve also probably disappointed as many fans as they’ve pleased. There’s a large mass of listeners who will bemoan to their dying day the fact that In Flames no longer sounds like the band who put out Whoracle, Colony, or Clayman (and it’s obvious they never will again), just as there are fans whose first love was Reroute To Remain, or Soundtrack To Your Escape, or Come Clarity, but can’t see the attraction in the band’s earlier work. And I suppose no one (or at least no one I know) had much use for A Sense of Purpose.
You can’t honestly say that In Flames’ 2011 album Sounds of A Playground Fading was “a return to form”, because the shape is still different from the band’s landmark releases of the 90s. Yet the album was much stronger than the one that preceded it. It represents an In Flames that’s once again solidly connected with where they came from, but confidently and effectively incorporating new musical elements.
I had two of the songs from the album on my starting list of candidates for this series — “Deliver Us” and “Where the Dead Ships Dwell”. In the end, I picked the former, though I’m sure I’ll get arguments about that. But the punchy, stomping riffage and the catchy-as-hell melody couldn’t be denied.
As I said at the outset, today’s songs are dramatically different in nearly every respect — they represent the wonderful diversity of metal as a musical artform. But because they’ve been side-by-side on my alphabetized playlist of “Most Infectious” candidates, I’ve been listening to them together for a while now, and they now oddly fit together in my memory. So, here they are together:
“Down Spiral Depersonification”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/INFESTUS_-_Down_Spiral_Depersonification.mp3|titles=INFESTUS – Down Spiral Depersonification]
“Deliver Us”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/02__In_Flames_-_Deliver_Us.mp3|titles=In Flames – Deliver Us]