Welcome to the lucky 13th Part of our list of 2016’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. To scroll through the preceding 12 parts, click this link.
For the trio of songs I’ve collected in this installment, I decided to dive deeper into the underground than I have for most of the songs that I’ve chosen for this list so far — deep enough that no one else suggested songs by any of these bands when I solicited input from readers and other NCS writers. But they happen to be favorites of mine (and as it also happens, the first of these isn’t likely to remain deep underground for very much longe)r. I also picked these songs because all the bands are cross-genre alchemists.
My happy acquaintance with Australia’s Rebel Wizard began back in the fall of 2015 when I discovered Negative Wizard Metal, the fourth of five EPs that Rebel Wizard released that year. I frothed at the mouth about it on our site, and then did more frothing later in the year when the fifth EP (Invocation of the Miserable Ones) reared its head.
Time passed, and last August Rebel Wizard released a debut album called Triumph of Gloom. I pounced on it, and it pounced back, and it left me beginning my review in this way:
“It may go too far to proclaim that every fanatical lover of metal, regardless of genre, will love Triumph of Gloom, or that the album captures every good and fundamental thing that makes metal worth our passion. But if those claims would go too far, they wouldn’t overreach by much.”
I stand by those words. The album is in fact bursting at the seams with vibrant energy. It’s an electrifying, high-intensity collection of absolutely masterful riffs and scintillating lead guitar pyrotechnics, organized into songs that are powerfully addictive from the very first listen. And what’s more, they represent an ingenious and unusual amalgamation of metal influences that include black metal, thrash, NWOBHM, and even power metal. It sounds very much like what I suspect it truly is — a labor of love for lots of music that meant something important to its creator.
And the creator is in fact a single individual, a man who uses the name Nekrasov, which is also the name of his main solo effort, a prolific project that dates back to the ’90s and combines black metal with ambient and power-electronics styles (Nekrasoz, in fact, just released a new EP named In Token of Their Spite, which you can find here).
I mentioned that Rebel Wizard is unlikely to remain a deeply underground name for much longer, and that’s because Prosthetic Records will be re-releasing Triumph of Gloom on CD and beautiful multi-colored vinyl along with a bonus track (“Defenders of Gloom”). I’ll toss out these pre-order links while I’m on that subject:
With that long wind-up, here’s the payoff: I mentioned that this whole album is catchy as hell. The one I chose to include on this list isn’t even the single that was recently released in advance of the Prosthetic editions (“Trampled by wolves and sheep”). It’s the one that got rooted most deeply in my head, really from the very first listen: “A Spell of Sorrow to Relieve the Curse of Triumph“. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
The album Worms by the Spanish band Barbarian Swords was a late-year discovery made possible by a request from Satanath Records and Cimmerian Shade Recordings that we host a premiere of the album stream. Not knowing what awaited me, I explored the music before giving an answer — and was blown away. In an attempt to describe the music in the review that accompanied the premiere, I wrote:
“In its predominant forms, Barbarian Swords traffic in a twisted but very compelling hybrid of doom and black metal — nihilistic and barbaric, moldering and mesmerizing, and frequently unnerving. And there are massive headbang triggers lurking like landmines in the album, too.”
A couple of those landmines go off in the album’s second track, “Outcast Warlords“. You can get the slow headbang going in the opening minutes, and then an even more vigorous one beginning at about the 3:25 mark. And that second Bolt-Thrower-ish stomp sets the stage for one of the best extended guitar solos I remember from all of last year. I could easily have picked other songs from this album for the list, but that solo is what put “Outcast Warlords” over the top.
The next song comes from another album I discovered because we were asked to host an album premiere. It’s a debut full-length called Extinction Curse by the Welsh trio Tides of Sulfur. To borrow once again from a review I wrote to accompany the premiere:
“Tides of Sulfur brew a poisonous and intoxicating concoction using stylistic elements drawn from sludge, doom, and death metal, laced with killer riffs that sometimes bring to mind the swampy, narcotic attractions of stoner doom.
“Thanks to the recording and mixing talents of Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio and mastering by Today is the Day’s Steve Austin, the album also has an immense, powerhouse sound that will threaten the integrity of your skeletal structure.”
The booming, tumbling, high-energy drumming in “Iron Fists Shall Rust” is one of the standout features of that track, and one of the reasons why I’m now adding it to the list. But the bruising central riff in the track is also highly infectious. A damned fine song from a damned fine album, even if it risks knocking your teeth out and rupturing a kidney.