Welcome to Part 5 of our list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs for this year, as selected by me and only me from the massive list of candidates received from numerous sources, as well as my own notes haphazardly created as the year rolled along. To learn about the selection criteria and to discover the songs that have already been named to the list, go HERE.
For each of the first four installments in this series I included three songs, grouped together because they seemed to go well together. And I’ve done the same thing with this installment, though beginning tomorrow I plan to drop down to two songs per post.
ALTARS OF GRIEF
In June we had the pleasure of premiering for you a fantastic track named “In Dying Light” by the Canadian band Altars of Grief. It appeared on a split release entitled Of Ash and Dying Light that also included excellent tracks by the band Nachtterror. I’ve been a huge fan of the song ever since and never had any doubt about including it on this list.
“In Dying Light” is a thoroughly engrossing and persistently memorable piece of music, from the opening dual-guitar harmony to the huge wave of sound that soon follows it, from the sweeping, exalted melody to the rippling, finger-tapped bass notes and gunshot drum beats, from the anguished snarls to the somber clean vocals.
I recommend listening to this next song immediately after the one by Altars of Grief — I think the transition works really well.
The name of the song is “Absolute Perpetual Death” and it comes from the debut album As All Light Leaves Her by Australia’s Advent Sorrow. I owe a debt to Andy Synn for pointing me to this song when it first appeared (Andy later lavished praise on the entire album in this review).
The beautiful, sombre piano piece at the beginning of the song is entrancing. When I first heard it, I almost didn’t want it to stop — but what comes afterward takes that melody and amplifies it in a way that’s wrenching in its intensity.
The shimmering guitar-and-keyboard melody and thundering drumwork meld into something that’s both heavy and as beautiful as the northern lights. The utterly hair-raising vocal shrieks provide a sharp contrast and yet somehow seem in keeping with the emotional power of the song. Even now, months later, the best single word I can think of for “Absolute Perpetual Death” is still “magnificent”. (The video is still wonderful, too.)
We never managed to review this Finnish band’s debut album Havulinnaan, though it has appeared on many year-end lists we’ve been posting this month. I did manage to write about a song from the album named “Terhen”, but that’s not the one I’m adding to this list (though I still have great affection for “Terhen”). Instead, I chose “Unien Havulinnaan“.
Like the first two songs in today’s trio, the song is often shrouded in an air of melancholy, yet matches that with warlike power and intensity, not merely in the instrumental music but also in both the clean and harsh vocals. It’s a thrilling, pulse-quickening piece of music that reaches its crescendo in an incinerating guitar solo, which is then followed by an equally attention-grabbing acoustic instrumental. And of course it’s on this list because it has proven to have staying power as well.