Welcome to Part 17 our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here.
I’ve called this the “Exception to the Rule” edition of this list, because both songs today involve clean singing. At least measured by how often I’ve heard them, they are also two of my favorite songs of the year. Some newcomers who aren’t aware that we make exceptions may be disappointed. But it would be hypocritical of me to ignore these songs.
One One One is a very different album from this band’s startling last release, Blackjazz — more stripped-down, more hook-focused, more “approachable”. As DGR put it in his review for us:
“Whereas the last disc was what four guys who are incredibly accomplished on their chosen instruments could do with absolutely no one stopping them or telling them to tone it down a bit, One One One sounds like what happens when the group chooses to exercise a bit of self-restraint — to see if they can still produce that same effect with a more minimalistic sound…. A lot of One One One brings to mind the old axiom that just because you have the ability to do something, doesn’t mean that you should. Everything feels strategically placed so that the band get the maximum impact for a more minimalist amount of showmanship, and it works. Really, really well.”
And so it does. And on the infectiousness scale, no song works better that “I Won’t Forget”. Shining released two different videos for the song last year, both of which are a delight to see and hear. The first one is the “official” video released last April. Oh man, the colors, the lighting, the editing, the headbanging, the boobs… they’re all just excellent.
The second video was the first in a “Live On Location” series, in which Shining set up in some kind of unusual surrounding (here, in downtown Oslo), do a one-take performance of a song, film it with only one camera, and then unveil it to the public with no audio or video editing. It’s a kick to watch, too. And hey, if you haven’t heard the song before, you’ll probably want to hear it twice anyway.
I reviewed Ghost’s Infestissumum in the context of an essay of musings last April about the explosion of Ghost as both a cultural and a musical phenomenon — and what I perceived as a backlash against the band within underground metal circles. I’m not going to repeat that extended defense of the band, but will note this:
While their ability to write irresistibly catchy melodic hooks and transitions may have swept them far beyond the boundaries of the underground and out into the wider world, they’re still metal to me. Their insistence on anonymity and the cloaking of their faces and bodies in an inverted representation of ecclesiastical piety adds an extra layer of occult devotion to what’s already there for all to hear in the lyrics. In many ways, while there is a simplicity and innocence to the melodies, Ghost are bent on corrupting that innocence at the same time as they deliver it.
Infestissimum contains so many infectious songs, so many of which could be added to this list. But I have to go with “Monstrance Clock”. BUT, I can’t resist also including below a live recording of the song that was my runner-up — “Year Zero”. And I’ve also added an interview of A Nameless Ghoul (who some suspect is also Papa Emeritus) conducted by two kids last Halloween, because it’s… sweet.