(In this post, NCS writer Andy Synn provides another installment in his “Five of My Favourite” series, with five killer b-side tracks from Himsa, Satyricon, Setherial, Skeletonwitch, and Marduk.)
Ah, the humble b-side. The bonus track. The Japanese exclusive. How they toy with our emotions and loyalties. How many copies of an album are you willing to buy to get just the right track-list? How completest/obsessive are you? Is that itunes bonus track worth the extra dough? Have the band offered up these extra tracks for free download (some do, you just have to look for them)? Is there ANOTHER Roadrunner digipak re-release on the horizon, scraping the archives for all that they’re worth???
Anyway, recently I’ve started a slow but steady purge of my itunes library, removing the b-sides, bonus tracks and covers which I don’t consider worth the bit-space. This comes after several years of obsessive-compulsive trawling of the internet for downloadable versions of these extra special bonus tracks, or (even worse) buying up another, “better” copy of a cd I already own, just to have the completist’s wet-dream of an exhaustive track-list.
After several intense bouts of therapy I’ve made the first step in getting rid of these superfluous extra tracks that do nothing but clutter up my library and, at their worst, detract from or disrupt the intended track-listing of some of my favourite albums.
But it has also given me a chance to appreciate those b-sides which deserve their time in the spotlight – the very best of which I can’t help but wonder WHY they didn’t make the final cut, in many cases as they’re better than some of the actual album A-sides! So here we are, five of my favourite non-album b-sides. I’ve purposefully excluded covers and re-recordings, and just focussed on five original tracks that honestly deserved to be on an album!
Himsa – “I, Possession”
The massively underrated metal monsters of Himsa signed off their career with two awesome albums, Hail Horror and Summon In Thunder. Pretty much every track was an absolute killer, a trend which extends right through to the b-sides from Hail Horror, with ‘I, Possession’ being the pick of the bunch.
Massive, bulldozing grooves that pulse with malevolence, a rabid, raw-throated vocal performance, and a slinky, snake-like guitar lead which provides the song’s central hook, all combine to make up this awesome little number that it took me FOREVER to get hold of. Thanks Islander![audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/11-I-Possession.mp3|titles=Himsa – I Possession]
Satyricon – “Storm of the Destroyer”
Now, Diabolical was a great album. It got a lot of criticism for “selling-out”, but the songs themselves are hypnotic and compelling to a fault, due as always to the combination of Frost’s unbreakable drumming and Satyr’s insidious riffage. That being said, I can see why ‘Storm of the Destroyer’ didn’t make the cut.
It’s a great song, a blasting vicious cut of caustic screams and shrieking shrapnel, but doesn’t fit with the steady satanic pounding of the rest of the album. Still, it certainly deserves more attention, if only to prove that Satyricon can still deliver ‘it’ when they decide to unleash their inner beast.
Setherial – “The Neural Cage of Self-Infliction”
Ekpyrosis was the twisty-turny, chaos-jewel in Setherial’s blackened crown, and ‘The Neural Cage of Self-Infliction’ is one of the twistiest, turniest, most contorted pieces of music drawn from the album sessions. The track’s existence has only recently been revealed, adding to the air of fresh discovery around it, and you can (if you look carefully) get hold of a copy through all the usual channels. You owe it to yourself to inflict this spiny, jagged aural punishment on yourself as soon as possible!
Skeletonwitch – “Bringer of Death”
Out of all the tracks here this is the only one which actually has its own music video (commissioned by Adult Swim, no less). The track can be found on the European version of Beyond The Permafrost or on an Adult Swim music compilation cd. Wherever you find it, try and get hold of it, because it’s a rip-snorting, high-octane piece of blackened thrash with a killer chorus hook and a badass solo.
Marduk – “Coram Satanae”
How this did not make the final cut of the album really is beyond me. A bonus track for the shiny digi-book version of their latest album, ‘Coram Satanae’ serves as the perfect denouement to Serpent Sermon, with a massive vocal hook and a searing central tremolo theme that embeds itself deep into the darkest corners of the listener’s sub-conscious. The drumming is at different times utterly pulverising and effortlessly restrained, while the bass-lines wind and flex with muscular malice. This is, without a doubt, one of my favourite Marduk songs!