And so it begins. Just as we’re approaching the end of our 2017 LISTMANIA series, we’re beginning another list — and it’s the only one for which your humble editor is personally responsible. I don’t have the mental ability or emotional maturity to make my own list of best albums, but I do force myself to make the list that begins today, though as you’ll discover, it’s not an easy process for me (though it does make for a lot of fun listening).
In fact, as in every year when I’ve done this, I’m starting the rollout of this 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 – 4 songs every day until I arbitrarily decide to stop, though I might miss a day here and there. My goal is to finish by the end of January, but no promises.
If you think this is a ridiculously inept way to make a list, you might consider that between the list of candidates I sporadically made for myself as 2017 rolled on, plus the lists provided by our readers (here) and by my NCS colleagues, I have a master list that includes almost 700 songs. It’s a mix of big names and very obscure ones from across virtually every metal sub-genre you can think of.
There is an overlap between many of the songs on that candidate list and albums that have appeared on our multitude of LISTMANIA 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.
Although choosing songs for this list is overall a difficult process for me, and although the choices won’t be appearing in any kind of ranked order, I’ve decided to start with two easy picks. But I’m also doing something you’ll see repeated as the list unfolds — combining some predictably popular and widely recognized choices with tracks from more obscure releases.
So, with that, let’s begin…
As I mentioned, “Iron Strengthens Iron” was an easy choice for this list. I’m pretty sure that no other song received more “nominations” from our readers than this one, and on top of that it was a favorite among many members of our regular staff, including me — although Andy Synn picked a different Dyscarnate track (“Traitors In the Palace”) for his own list of the Top 10 Tracks of 2017. And on top of that, the official video for the song is highly entertaining to watch if you’re into this song.
Truth be told, the whole album (With All Their Might) is highly infectious. As Andy wrote in his review, it’s a “stone cold stunner”. And as I wrote after first hearing this first song on my list:
“There might be a way to make this song more jolting and crushing for the listener, but short of actually hammering you in the neck with a crowbar while you listen, I’m not sure how they could do that. They also insinuated a few strands of eerie, drifting cosmic melody into the bludgeoning, too, which proves to be a nice touch.”
This is the second easy choice for this list. It tied that Dyscarnate track for “most recommended” status among the master list of candidates I assembled from all the sources previously identified in this post, and it comes from an album (Nightmare Logic, reviewed here by TheMadIsraeli) that probably appeared on more year-end lists we posted in our year-end LISTMANIA series than any other.
But what counts more than anything else, since this is my list, is that I think it’s catchy as hell. The band do, too — they’ve said it’s the catchiest song they’ve ever written.
And on top of that, this fucking thing really tunes up your hormones.
As promised, in this first installment of our Most Infectious Song list I’ve included some more obscure names than the first two bands above, in part because my own listening this year (as in most years) tends toward more obscure releases, and in part because our site’s mission has always consciously been to avoid solely writing about releases that everyone else writes about. That theme will continue as this list expands in volume.
The next song, “Fane of the Clandestine“, comes from The Lesser God, which is the debut album of the Pennsylvania band Dumal. It was released way, way back in January of last year, so long ago that I don’t think it got the attention it deserved when people began making their year-end lists. But as I wrote in a SHADES OF BLACK post when I first heard it, the album “is a real gem that should not be missed”.
“Fane of the Clandestine” is the song that convinced me to dive all the way into the album a year ago. I wrote then that it was an early entrants to my list of 2017 “Most Infectious Song” candidates. And although all of the songs on The Lesser God are enthralling and intensely memorable, whether sunk in the depths of despairing melancholy or surging with heart-swelling sensations of defiance and grim triumph that bring the music to the brink of the epic, this one still has a special place in my head.
The name Kawir definitely isn’t as obscure as Dumal, though (confoundingly) it probably still isn’t as well-known as the first two bands in this post despite the very deep roots of Kawir in the annals of Hellenic black metal (and black metal on a global scale).
In 2017 Kawir returned with a new 42-minute opus named Exilasmos. I had the honor of premiering the full album stream and wrote then:
“It is a rare piece of art, one that follows a fascinating conceptual narrative extracted from Greek myth and provides powerful music that’s a match for that enduring narrative’s larger-than-life scale and the horrors and tragedies it describes….
“The album is loaded with transfixing melodies, solid-gold riffs, fantastic soloing, and compulsive rocking rhythms — as well as eruptions of pitch-black delirium and violence. The music does justice to its ages-old, mythic subject matter, and it would be a great and varied listening experience even if you knew nothing about its conceptual inspirations.”
Like other albums this year, Exilasmos is one from which I drew multiple candidates for this list. Tough choice, but I picked “Agamemnon“. Introduced by the sound of bagpipes and featuring heroic clean vocals by guest singer Alex the One, “Agamemnon” is simply a glorious, epic track, dramatic and grand — and quite memorable.