And so it begins. Just as we’re approaching the end of most segments of our LISTMANIA 2016 series, we’re starting another segment — and it’s the only one for which your humble editor is personally responsible. I don’t have the decisionmaking capacity to make my own list of best albums and, as you’ll discover, I’m only barely more capable of making the list that begins today.
Once again, I’m starting the rollout of our Most Infectious Song list without having finished it — which means I don’t know how long it will be or when it will end. As in past years, I’m making it up as I go along. I’ll do my best to post 2 or 3 songs every day until I arbitrarily decide to stop, though my goal is to finish by the end of January.
If you think that’s a ridiculously inept way to make a list, you might consider that between the list of candidates I sporadically made for myself as 2016 rolled on, plus the lists provided (here) by our readers, and by my NCS colleagues, I have a master list that includes more than 900 songs. It’s a mix of big names and very obscure ones from across virtually every metal sub-genre you can think of.
There’s an overlap between many of the songs on that candidate list and albums that have appeared on our multitude of “Best Album” lists, but don’t forget that the key criterion for this particular list is infectiousness; for a more elaborate explanation of what that means, go here.
Some of the best songs of the year I wouldn’t call “infectious”. And on the other hand, some of the most infectious songs of the year (in my estimation) don’t come from among the year’s best albums overall. Some of my picks don’t even come from albums I’ve heard all the way through.
But I’ve decided to begin with two songs that did happen to appear on two of the year’s best albums, two that happen to be particular favorites of most writers here at NCS.
HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY
One of the great difficulties of making the choices for this list isn’t picking between individual songs from very different albums — though that’s a real mind-fuck in its own right — but it’s also the head-scratching perplexities that come from trying to pick among multiple songs on the same album, any one of which would be completely valid choices for this list. That was certain;y a problem with III: Trauma by Austria’s Harakiri For the Sky.
I had six tracks from the album on my master list. And after lots of listening, I thought any one of the first three tracks on the album would be easy calls for our list. After wrestling with myself (naked and oiled up, of course), I chose “Funeral Dreams”.
The song drives so hard, thundering and punching and howling, but lilting and rippling melodies sparkle in the storm, too. And as the music moves through its repeating segments, it burrows into the head just as effectively as it gets the blood rushing.
Well fuck, here’s another example of the problem I identified above. There was never any doubt in my head that one of the songs from Anaal Nathrakh’s new album The Whole of the Law would be on this list. The very difficult question was, which one?
I thought about easing the pain by bending the rule of limiting the list to one song per band at the most, and since I made the rule, it would be oh so easy to bend it. But I summoned the meager fragments of fortitude that I possess and made a choice, if only to prove in some modest way that I’m not a pure emblem of sloth.
From among many, many possible choices on this album — which is as electrifying as any record released last year — I picked “The Great Spectator”. I may have been swayed somewhat by my comrade DGR’s recommendation, but still, I do think this song is the most infectious song on a highly infectious album.
The central riff that drives the song is undeniable, the drifting keyboard melody is eerily seductive, the industrial pneumatics hit the brain stem with orgiastic power, and the soaring clean-sung melody in the song’s back half is one of the best on the album. And even with all those ingredients, what put this over the top for me was the epic air of the music. It’s not as blindingly chaotic as other tracks, but it’s vibrantly dramatic, and that quality sealed the deal.