(DGR brings you this collection of bonuses, because he loves you. Well, maybe not you in particular, but the idea of you.)
Don’t worry, I know ninety percent of the time whenever my name pops up it’s because I’ve got another long review written up, and believe me, I’ve got three of those in the works. I’ve found myself stricken with a bit of writer’s block at the moment, though, so I began to distract myself by starting this article that you see here, and since then have found myself expanding upon it more and more. Now I am generally interested in potentially digging up rarer tracks and doing a series on them.
One of the things that has always aggravated the completionist side of my mind has been the release of limited editions and the inclusion of bonus tracks. I know I’m not the only one, but when it comes to content I tend to be one of those people who absolutely devours it and I need every single piece of it when it comes to albums that I have enjoyed and loved over the years. Of course, this often means there are always one or two songs that I discover later, recorded around the same time and included on some odd Japanese or rare edition, and oftentimes those songs are also great. But a lot of people may not even be aware that those tunes exist.
So what I found myself doing recently was starting to record my thoughts on bonus tracks in my regular reviews of albums here. However, there have been occasions when I really wish I had gotten the chance to go more in depth with those songs, or wound up neglecting them for many a reason — the review copy didn’t have them, general forgetfulness, or just no way to add another paragraph to the already ridiculously long tome of a review I had written. However, I still had those thoughts half-recorded or germinating, and I figured I’d finally take the time to expand upon them and let people know about some of the recent extra songs they may have missed and whether they’re worth hunting down.
I’ve tried to include links where available and for a few I just added YouTube videos — but be aware, these things don’t often last forever, so I apologize ahead of time if they wind up pointing to nowhere. In this post, my thoughts arched through a few 2014 releases that I really enjoyed, as well as one from 2013.
Insomnium – Out To The Sea
We begin with Insomnium, whose Shadows Of The Dying Sun I reviewed a little while back. The copy that I reviewed did not have any of the bonus material attached to it, so those of you who contemplated ordering the two-disc edition or the limited edition didn’t really get much advice from this corner of the net. That said, I looked up what was included, and from the looks of things it is one exclusive track named “Out To The Sea”, and on the two-disc edition the band threw in the acoustic numbers that were on the Ephemeral single.
I discussed those latter tracks in my review of that single, so a truncated version is that they’re good, atmospheric pieces that don’t take up much time. “Out To The Sea”, though, is a song that people should be hunting down right away because, holy crap, this is one of those situations where a “limited edition” song may actually be better than a couple of the songs included on the album. It’s a quick number but it falls in the vein of “While We Sleep”, including another great closing solo and also including one of the most lyrically powerful moments alongside the album’s closing track.
To repeat, “Out To The Sea” is definitely a song that should be sought out because it may be one of the best things Insomnium have done in some time. It’s one of those times when those who got a limited edition of the disc clearly won out. The whole closing bit of the song has such a poetic series of lyrics, one of the reasons that I came to the band in the first place.
For those of you who didn’t spot it, Benighted went hard on the bonus tracks for Carnivore Sublime. If you managed to get your disgusting, grubby hands on the super ultra mega deluxe turbo championship edition version of that disc, then not only did you get the regular album (which, if you haven’t read our own review of it, you should, it kicks ass) but you also grabbed yourself a smattering of live tracks and other items. In this case you got a little mini-live EP in the form of “The Twins”, “Saw It All”, “Forsaken”, and “Nemesis”; demo tunes from Carnivore Sublime like “Spit” and “Collection Of Dead Portraits”; and three cover songs wherein Benighted took on Aborted, Rammstein, and Machine Head — you will never see that sentence written in any form ever again.
Which ones are worth seeking out? And if you can, should you just acquire all of them? Well, that is where the ground gets a little shakier.
I’ve never been the hugest fan of live tracks — mostly because oftentimes (and impressively) bands are playing the songs with such deadly accuracy that you’re not really get anything different from the studio album experience save for some extra crowd noise and lesser sound quality. Now, you could get lucky and have some amazing live banter a la Devin Townsend or Peter Dolving, but most bands don’t do that, and sadly, Benighted do not. If you’re a collector with a sort of musical anthropologist standpoint, then sure, but mostly the live tracks are for super-hardcore fans only. My value in them is greatly diminished since more often than not I’ll just find myself drifting back to the song on the disc rather than hearing what it would sound like if my neighbor down the street were blaring it and I could hear it through my window.
The demo tracks are kinda/sorta — insert wishy-washy hand waving motion here — the same way as the live songs, except they’re just tunes from Carnivore Sublime with the same format, barring differing vocal lines. I think “Spit” is one of the best songs on that disc outside of “June and the Laconic Solstice” (seriously, you guys, the ending to that song is great) and “Slaughter/Suicide”, so it’s an interesting peek into the past for that song. But again, the primary value lies on the musical anthropology side of things and how exploratory you’re feeling. Therefore, the real value of this bit comes from how much love you have for the songs the band covers and how amusing you may find the Benighted take on them. For me, these things are a combo of endlessly amusing and generally pretty enjoyable.
Benighted taking on Aborted’s “Meticulous Invagination” is amusing — in the sort of universe falling up its own ass sort of way. Both bands play in a pretty similar genre and both have released some insanely good music this year. The style of the song is also probably the most in line with Benighted’s own songs, so in reality, it just feels like a very familiar Benighted tune.
Benighted taking on Rammstein’s “Du Reichst so Gut”, on the other hand, is an amazing experience — and I don’t use the phrase lightly. We’ve highlighted the song before, but goddamn is this tune so fun. In its original form, the song is very simple, and while it is definitely one of my favorites, especially the live version from Rammstein’s Volkerball DVD, it’s still a pretty easy-going song. So it leaves a lot of space for a new band to move in, take its basic up-down riff, twist and contort the song to a very basic recognizable standard, and then throughout all of it insert a treasure trove of blast beats and insanely fast double-bass rolls. And on top of that, you have the “should’ve seen it coming from a mile away” effect of hearing the song transformed into something more along the lines of “DU BREEEEEEEEE SO GUT”, and it just becomes a fun, stupid song. It’s actually my favorite of the three covers and comes with an instant recommendation on my end, assuming you can find it somehow.
Machine Head’s “Old” is another one that is delightfully twisted, but a little less carved out of random flesh and played more straight. What you get out of it is a super-heavy version of “Old”, which depending on your attachment to the song or not — in my case, mild — you may think is amazing. I just think it’s great because they take the song and make it sound like Benighted’s version of “Old” without relying too much on the “let’s accelerate the song to nine million and growl over the whole thing”.
Necrotic Manifesto was an already insanely packed disc, yet somehow Aborted still had enough material left over to tack on a few bonus tracks to the deluxe edition, and in this case they included one more original tune (“Saprophytes”) to fully close out the disc alongside “Cenobytes” and then slammed two covers in there as well.
Saprophytes is an absolute grinder of a song, too, one that changes up the “zero to one hundred” tempo that Necrotic Manifesto starts and ends on. It is very much like feeding the listener through the gears of a machine only to have them get clogged up halfway through. You still get a vocal barrage like someone hitting you with a million punches in the span of a second on top of it. It actually does change the flow of the album somewhat, especially if you’re able to differentiate where the cover tunes start and when the actual original pieces stop. I would recommend it, if only to add to the rush of the album as it stands. Necrotic Manifesto is one of the few albums that we at NCS really rallied around collectively, and there’s good reason, as Aborted have continued down an ultra-precise deathgrind track and done great things with it.
That said, with the one original song out of the way, should you try to get the cover tunes that are available as well? I would say, for one of them, absofuckinglylutely, and the other, yeah, sure. The cover of Concubine by Converge is just great, in part because it kind of pulls Aborted back to the style they were playing with on “Of Scabs And Boils” from Global Flatline — except this time far more chaotic and about a minute and a half shorter. The weird part about this song is that Aborted take the utter chaos that came to define so many Converge tunes — the swaths of noise, the burying in reverb, the almost out-of-time instrumentation that sounded like it was recorded once in sheer anger yet was stunningly precise, and the ripping high vocals — and they proceed to sterilize it and make it sound like a calculated, malice-filled, death metal song. Although it doesn’t exactly line up with the original, it is still a good take and slots in well at the end of an already packed Necrotic Manifesto. It’s a good breather, by contrast with the Suffocation cover that follows it.
With regard to the Funeral Inception cover, if it hasn’t become clear by now, with cover songs I find myself more intrigued by bands going way outside their own genre and then Frankensteining something together, yet Aborted play this Suffocation cover in such an oddly straightforward manner that I half envision Sven doing the Suffo-chops during the more intense parts of the song and it works rather well. There’s give and take on this one obviously, because if you have both on your mp3 player of choice you may not even notice a shift in the songs if they were to pop up back to back, but it is still a hell of a track.
Anyone who has listened to The Satanist is probably aware of many of the songs attached to the Japanese edition of the disc, as well as the ones recorded around the time of these album sessions. The true rarity among them is the B-side currently attached to the “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” single known as “If I Were Cain”. Right now, the only video of the song that I can seem to find is someone spinning it on vinyl, which is a real odd experience but also feels like the olden days of traveling over to a friend’s house and sitting in their room to listen to music together.
“If I Were Cain” is thematically consistant with what the band do on The Satanist. It’s not the most straightforward and crushingly intense song — like previous Behemoth tunes have been — but instead does what The Satanist does: win out on the level of atmospherics. It’s hard not to imagine that most of that album was spent with Nergal standing behind a podium just yelling out into a crowd; it’s probably one of the best encapsulations of Behemoth’s sound performed on CD, as it is pretty much what a Behemoth live show is like. However, of the extra songs included with The Satanist, we have some strange events taking place on the Japanese release.
For some reason, they get the two original songs from the Ezkaton EP included on the disc — a pair of songs that prior to this had existed as a midpoint between The Apostasy and Evangelion. Those two songs are just great, and if you’re an oddball who doesn’t have Ezkaton, those two original tunes are worth it in their own right, leaving aside the live tracks and cover songs also present on the EP. So really, the one new bonus track of The Satanist that you can find is a cover of Siekiera and their song Ludzie Wschodu — which surprisingly enough, Behemoth manage to bend, twist, contort, and torment into one of their own songs; it’s pretty different from the original. If you weren’t aware it was a cover, it would sound like a strange oddball of a closer to The Satanist, but the song still has the aesthetics of that album and is probably the most Behemoth-sounding of all their cover songs to date. They definitely took it and made it their own song without blinking — a fitting tribute to the original.
The Black Dahlia Murder – Seppuku
This is the only song on this list from 2013, but if this feature goes over well I could likely start digging into some of the bonus songs from other releases in 2013 that I also enjoyed.
Prior to the release of Everblack, we interviewed The Black Dahlia Murder’s drummer (here) and he brought up a song entitled “Seppuku” — one that he was very excited about, but it wound up being attached as a bonus track to the limited editions of the CD.
“Seppuku” is, like much of Everblack, a guitar-heavy song that is probably the furthest-leaning toward the melodic death metal side of their writings yet. “Seppuku” was described to me by our own Andy Synn (as he has the edition of the album this song appeared on) as “The Absence by way of Black Dahlia“, and shockingly, it’s a pretty apt comparison.
It’s not the heaviest or most bludgeoningly brutal thing the band have done, instead falling on the sleek side, where the guitars are knife-sharp and cut through the air in a way that breaks the speed of sound. On top of that, the drums are a consistent ram behind it all, driving the whole song forward. Everblack was an album that I enjoyed tremendously, and I’ve been a huge fan of this particular sound that they’ve been playing with since Ritual (after already enjoying what they started on Nocturnal — they seem to do albums in pairs), so “Seppuku” is an easy recommendation. The only issue is how to find it nowadays, especially since it was a 2013 release.