Welcome to Part 11 of this list. Without further introductory verbiage, let’s proceed with three more tracks.
Medusa was one of those albums that popped up repeatedly in the Top 5 of year-end lists published by print zines and “big platform” web sites that we included in our year-end LISTMANIA extravaganza. Some of the albums in the upper reaches of those rankings were suspect, having the whiff of big-name pandering. But not this one… this one deserved all the honors it got (and of course it appeared on many of our own year-end lists).
To paraphrase something that Andy Synn wrote in his review of the album, it was almost shocking to realise that somehow, almost thirty years on since the release of their debut, Paradise Lost were right back at the very top of their game. As Andy also opined, Medusa is “utterly monstrous” — “one of the darkest, heaviest, and doomiest albums of their career”.
It was also damned infectious. From among the songs that I thought were particularly contagious, I was initially tempted to pick one of the more up-tempo, death-leaning tracks, but then I just settled down and decided to admit to myself what I guess I’d known all along — that the slower, doomier “The Longest Winter” was the one that stuck in my head most firmly. In so many ways, it’s a classic track… and the lyrics are absolutely chilling.
Close call here, with the title track to Goatwhore’s new album, Vengeful Ascension and “Chaos Arcane” running hard behind the song I ultimately picked for the list instead of it. In his review at NCS, Wil Cifer thought the title track was probably the best on the album, at least based on how often he listened to it. And I’m not sure I would disagree with him (plus, it’s hard to get too much of the guitar solo in that track).
But the thrashier “Mankind Will Have No Mercy” just seems to play so well to Goatwhore’s strengths. For me, it really brings the tremendous, vicious energy of Goatwhore’s live shows. And it happens to be a song I’ve jammed into multiple playlists since the album came out. It lights me up every time I hear it. And so here it is…
Oh man, the monstrously majestic infernal stomp of the main riff in this next song gets me every time I hear it. It jumps right out as soon as the song begins, and it just pounds its way into your head as the song unfolds.
The track I’m talking about is “דִּבּוּק” by the Israeli band Ziggurat, whose EP Ritual Miasma proved to be a great discovery for me last year. To quote what I wrote about it:
“Ziggurat deliver storms of imperious black/death savagery with staggering force, but do so in a nuanced way, infiltrating the assaults with gripping (and often exotic) melodies and dramatic riffs, which convey sensations of paranormal peril, wrenching grief, and grim yet soaring majesty. They’ve got a hell of a drummer, too, and a vocalist with a cavernous roar at his command. If I were capable of making a year-end list of 2017’s best EPs, this would be on it.”
In this particular track you feel the presence of a great looming evil. You hear its voice in those heartless, gargantuan roars and flesh-rending shrieks. You feel the earth shaking beneath its feet through those massive pounding riffs and booming rhythms, and shudder at its capacity for violence in the music’s throes of blast-beat fury and deranged guitar leads. And yes, the music also soars to heights of terrifying, arcane majesty. A really compelling song by a very promising new band.
And by the way, since I first wrote about the tape release of this EP (via Caligari Records), it has become available on CD (here) through Blood Harvest Records.