It seems like many “best of the year” lists include a category of “honorable mentions”. I don’t know how artists feel about being included in an “honorable mention” list. I would guess they feel pretty meh about it, or maybe even worse than that. The list-maker is sort of saying, “this was good, but not as good as the 10 or 20 albums that I thought were the best.” Thanks a fucking lot, you douchebag!
I have an honorable mention list to accompany our list of 2011’s “most infectious” extreme metal songs, which I finally finished rolling out yesterday. But this isn’t the typical “honorable mention” list. These aren’t songs that I omitted because I didn’t think they were quite as good as the ones on my list. They were on my “master list” of candidates, and I omitted them only because I decided I couldn’t honestly say they were “extreme metal songs”. Maybe some of you will think I already violated that rule with other songs on the list and I’m therefore acting inconsistently. Could be.
Anyway, consistent or not, here are four songs from the master candidate list that I thought were mighty infectious and mighty good, but not extreme enough to make the final cut.
This band’s 2011 two-disc album Svartir Sandar has blown up their profile far beyond the shores of that place of ice and fire they call home. In a word, the album is amazing. It’s full of ice and fire, too, but it also includes slow, melancholy, emotionally powerful songs like “Fjara”.
The melody of the song caught in my head from the first listen, and there’s something about the vocals that forged an especially tight bond. They’re rough, they’re not 100% on key, but they convey honest emotion, and I wouldn’t change them one bit.
When I first heard the song, it was through this video, which first appeared on Icelandic national television. As I said when I first posted about it, you get the sense that everyone in the band, at that moment, was really feeling the music and the words. So here’s the video for “Fjara”, and I’ve also included an audio player of the song for those of you who can’t stream the video at the moment.
“Fjara”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/02-Fjara.mp3|titles=Solstafir – Fjara]
MASTODON: “DRY BONE VALLEY”
I’m one of those people who loved Crack the Skye and didn’t love The Hunter. I know plenty of people who felt the opposite. I’m sure there are people out there who loved both albums, but I’m not sure who they are.
But even though I didn’t think the album as a whole was that great, I did get hooked on this song. I especially liked listening to it right after the Marduk song from Iron Dawn that immediately preceded it on my master list, which narrowly missed the cut for the final thing. SO, what the fuck, might as well play them for you back to back. They make a nice contrast.
MARDUK: “WARSCHAU 2: HEADHUNTER HALFMOON”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/01-Warschau-2-Headhunter-Halfmoon.mp3|titles=Marduk – Warschau 2 – Headhunter Halfmoon]
MASTODON: “DRY BONE VALLEY”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/08-Dry-Bone-Valley.mp3|titles=Mastodon – Dry Bone Valley]
AMEBIX: “KNIGHTS OF THE BLACK SUN”
Talk about longevity: Bristol, England’s Amebix put out their first EP, Who’s the Enemy, in 1982. They’re also a band credited by many with establishing crust punk as a genre, and many, many other bands have identified them as an important musical influence.
They had a long dry spell — basically no new music between 1987 and the release of a “reunion” EP (Redux) in 2010, and even that was a re-recording (and reimagining) of three of the band’s older songs. But 2011 brought a new full-length album — Sonic Mass — and I thought it was uneven, sometimes perplexing, but overall, wonderful.
There’s more of a haunted, goth-rock air to the cleanly produced album than the crust-punk slash-and-burn of what little I’ve heard of their earliest work. I imagine that people hoping for a true redux of the early days were disappointed, but the album still includes the Baron’s distinctive raspy vocals and moments of all-out guitar-and-drum attack.
My favorite song, and also a tremendously memorable one, is “Knights of the Black Sun”. It starts slowly and builds, ushered along by ringing guitar chords, to an explosive finish. Come to think of it, I probably made a mistake not including this one on the list. Here’s the song:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/10-Knights-Of-The-Black-Sun.mp3|titles=Amebix – Knights Of The Black Sun]
HIGH SPIRITS: “FULL POWER”
Our brother BadWolf reviewed Another Night, the 2011 debut album from Chicago’s High Spirits, for NCS (here). He waxed rhapsodic about the album and he waxed . . . well, something stronger than rhapsodic . . . about a song called “Full Power”. As of September, it got his vote for catchiest song of the year. It probably still does.
In the studio, High Spirits is the one-man project of Chris Black (Dawnbringer), and as BadWolf wrote in his review, his creation is a party album that captures the exuberance of 80s-style speed/glam metal.
“Full Power” isn’t the catchiest song of the year for me, and as I said earlier I can’t honestly label it extreme metal, but it is a damned infectious song, and I had to include it on this “honorable mention” list. Go ahead . . . rock dee fuck out.[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/03-Full-Power.mp3|titles=High Spirits – Full Power]