Here’s Part 4 of my list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. I promised that new installments of this list would appear each day (more or less) until it’s finished, but four days have passed since the last one. I’ll make no excuses, but simply make a new promise that from here on I’ll do better.
CNOC AN TURSA
Cnoc An Tursa’s magnificent 2013 album The Giants of Auld made many of the year-end lists we’ve posted at NCS, including this one by Panopticon’s Austin Lunn. He wrote this about the album: “EPIC Scottish metal. This is the album I have been waiting for…” Speaking as someone with only the most remote Scottish ancestry but a strong affinity for almost all things Scottish, it’s the album I’ve been waiting for as well.
I first wrote about this band in October 2012 after seeing the news that they’d been signed by Candlelight Records. In that first post I included all of the music from them that I could then find, including a portion of a song called “The Lion of Scotland”. In all its full glory, it later became the first advance track to appear from the album.
It’s a genuinely soul-stirring song, with a skirling tremolo melody, an epic keyboard overlay, hard-charging rhythms, and passionate harsh vocals. It still gets my blood racing and my fist pumping every time I hear it. I’ve never had any doubt that it would be on this list. Listen:
As DGR wrote when he reviewed Deceiver of the Gods for us, Amon Amarth have reached the point when they are almost beyond musical discussion. They’ve become a kind of cultural staple, their music having settled into a largely predictable style, but one that for many of us is no less attractive despite the fact that many Amon Amarth songs have come to bear a strong resemblance to many others.
And yet, as DGR observed in his review, Deceiver of the Gods is worth more than the instinctive brush-off, “it’s another Amon Amarth album”. Yes, it has its fair share of melodic death metal battle anthems (many of them quite strong), but it also includes some genuine surprises.
Perhaps the most surprising is the song “Hel”, which features an appearance by famed Candlemass vocalist Messiah Marcolin. It’s slower than anything else on the album, and quite different from what anyone would have expected. But something about the slow chugging verses, the serpentine chorus melody, and the dismal lyrics have rooted themselves firmly in my cranium, and the contrasting voices in the duet by Johan Hegg and Marcolin work very well.
I have no doubt that others will fight me over this choice, given the highly infectious nature of many other more up-tempo tracks on the album, but I will not be daunted! “I welcome you to Hel…”