Welcome to the 8th Part of this evolving list of Most Infectious Songs from releases that appeared in 2016. To see the previous installments of the list and to learn the grounds for selection, click here.
I’ve again decided to group three songs together in this episode of the list rather than two, and I’ve again amused myself (and hopefully you) by combining tracks that I feel have a certain kinship among them, even though each one is distinctively different from the others.
Experiment of Existence, the new album by the Chilean band Ripper, was for me a big highlight of 2016. We got the chance to premiere a full album stream, and that was preceded by a review from Todd Manning (aka Allen Griffin) that included these words of praise:
“This release in many ways appears to channel the savagery of groups like Possessed, Dark Angel, and particularly Pleasure to Kill-era Kreator. Yet, one thing that quickly becomes apparent to the listener is the precision of execution. One hesitates to use the term ‘technical’ for all the baggage that comes along with it, but this difficult material is performed flawlessly. The aggression, though, is never compromised. This is neither Watchtower nor Voivod, just a death/thrash hybrid performed at the highest standard.”
“[T[hey don’t push the limits of their sound too far in a ‘progressive’ direction even though they certainly have the talent to do so, but they also don’t dumb things down in order to find the easiest path to brutality. And while Ripper certainly fall into the thrash category, some sort of nostalgia factor is the least of their appeal. Experiments of Existence grabs the torch of early Kreator, Pestilence, Death, and their ilk and carries it burning into modern times.”
The album is loaded with infectious songs, but the one I thought best deserved a place on this list is the opening track, “Magnetic Solar Storms” — and here it is:
HOBBS’ ANGEL OF DEATH
Many of the songs on this list come from much-heralded 2016 albums that have made the rounds among numerous year-end lists posted here and elsewhere. But this next one comes from an album that should have received far more attention. In my estimation, it was one of 2016’s best releases, and it came from a surprising source — an Australian named Peter Hobbs whose name became engrained in the underground during the ’80s but who hadn’t released a new album in more than 20 years.
I wrote a long review of this marvelous comeback record, Heaven Bled, but I think I’d rather quote the distinctive words of our Norwegian contributor Gorger from a summary he included in Part 2 of his year-end list on our site earlier today:
“In 2017 we can finally congratulate Hobbs’ Angel of Death with the 30th anniversary jubilee. And what better way to celebrate than to hear Heaven Bled, a surprisingly vital and impressive thrasher! The band bring together proto black metal and Teutonic thrash, early American thrash, and various forms of early black/thrash, along with some traceable seasonings of mid-nineties black metal and a teaspoon of testy death metal like no one else, and present it all wrapped up in a killer contemporary organic production with an honorable respect for the ways of yore. It’s an energetic cascade of multifaceted diversity with virile frenetic deathrash riffs and testosterone-rhythms, interspersed with howling adrenaline-filled solos and a dash of jet-black arrogant furore. Hell yeah!”
Hell yeah indeed.
I’ve picked a song called “Walk My Path” for this list. It isn’t nearly as thrashy as other tracks on the album, but it’s been stuck in my head ever since the first time I heard it. It begins in violent and dramatic fashion, sounding perhaps more like blasting black metal than anything else, and then it begins to transform and alternate with a galloping, warlike, heroic, melodic guitar passage — eventually highlighted by magnificent, echoing solos. In this particular song, Hobbs reached for epic heights… and succeeded in grasping them.
It became something of a running joke around here that every time we’d post a year-end list during LISTMANIA that didn’t include Vektor, one of the band’s apparently rabid legion of fans would surface to proclaim the list invalid… because no Vektor. We won’t have that problem this time.
Austin Weber lavished praise on Terminal Redux in his NCS review, from which I’ll excerpt these paragraphs:
“This record is both a grower and a truly epic experience, one that draws strength and diversity through its cascading delivery of shifting moods and styles from song to song and moment to moment, bringing to the table a strong prog-oriented mindset behind their thrashing rifftastic bliss.
“Vektor always seem to know just when to switch things up, to keep it fresh and give each song its own signature feel and identity. I can listen to Terminal Redux all day and never feel like skipping a song on it. This is truly one of those great bombastic musical experiences that’s high-minded art, yet never hollow or soulless feeling while attempting to accomplish something grandiose and moving.”
Full immersion in the wonders of this album requires dedication and time. It is, after all, a 70-minute-plus close encounter of the third kind. Only if you go in all the way will you finally come to the song I’ve picked for this “Most Infectious” list. It’s a rarity on the list — not the only long song that you’ll find here but one of few, and it may turn out to be the longest. Yet it really is still very infectious… as well as being a mind-bender.
Enjoy “Recharging the Void“: