Another day, another edition of our Most Infectious Song list, with a trio of black metal tracks and a song that might be a bit of a cheat.
With their 2015 debut album, As All Light Leaves Her, Australia’s Advent Sorrow made a beneficial change in their sound. As Andy Synn wrote in his review, they “shed the symphonic grandeur that permeated their debut EP in favour of an all-round darker and more desperate form of borderline DSBM-style sonic despair… resulting in an album of bleak, harrowing melody and torturous metallic agony that errs closer to the sound of Infestus or early Shining than it does the more dramatic Dimmu Borgir-isms with which the band first made their name”.
Last year the band continued down that path of what they’ve termed “torturous black metal” with a single called “Pestilence Shall Come“, presented through a music video that matches the intensity of the music — and the music is damned intense, from the searing pain in the vocals and the wash of desolation in the chords that swirl about them to the staggering force of the drums when operating at speed (though the drum rhythm is just as often simple and deliberate… and still punishing). And there is also a soaring symphonic grandeur to the song that only magnifies its emotional power.
The video is now approaching 300,000 views on YouTube, and I’m not surprised. It’s quite addictive, and hence, it appears on this list.
A HILL TO DIE UPON
I nearly did something that probably would have gotten me in trouble with my colleague Mr. Synn. I nearly picked “Jubal and Syrinx” by A Hill To Die Upon for this list. But in his review of the 2017 album by that band (Via Artis Via Mortis), he proclaimed “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” the “undeniable high point” of the album”, “one of the most driving and dynamic tracks the band have ever penned, featuring some truly impressive interplay between drums and guitars, not to mention a wealth of utterly irresistible melodic and metallic hooks”.
“Jubal and Syrinx” is highly infectious as well, which is why I nearly picked it. But after revisiting “Great Is Artemis…“, I relented. Basically, I could have gone either way, and therefore decided to defer to Andy. You really can’t go wrong with either one, or with anything else on this Illinois band’s excellent 2017 release.
In preparing this list I spent a lot of time re-listening to Aetherian’s debut album, The Untamed Wilderness (reviewed by DGR here). I spent a lot of time with it because there are so many songs on it that really stick in the head, so many that would be worthy of this list. Mentally, however, I kind of put “The Rain” off to the side, because it was released as a single in 2016. But goddammit, I love that song! And I finally decided I was going to put it on this list anyway.
For one thing, it does appear on this Greek band’s 2017 album. For another, I didn’t put the song on my 2016 list of infectious songs even though I should have. So it might be a cheat for me to do it now, but there’s no one here to stop me. To repeat what I wrote about the song (and the accompanying video) back in 2016:
“It’s yet further proof of Aetherian‘s remarkable talent for creating music that’s both electrifying and aching with pain. This song is one of the most savage and emotionally intense the band have written, with strikingly barbaric, blazing vocals, and explosions of blast-furnace intensity. And yet the melodic core of the song is immensely appealing — and of course very dark and dramatic.
“The video for the music could hardly be more perfect. Visually, the band really convey the music’s surging emotional force — you can see that they are feeling the music, even under the often pressurizing gaze of cameras. And the wild, cloudy natural setting is tailor-made for the song. A great decision to film it in black and white, too. Kudos to Jim Evgenidis and Icon Filmworx for this fine film work.”
I’m pretty sure I would have put this next song on the list eventually, but it happened to be sitting in the same round-up post I wrote last year that included my thoughts about the Advent Sorrow single that launches this latest edition of my list. And revisiting that post brought back all the good memories of listening to the song in the past.
The song’s name is “Nav’“, and it appeared on Morena, the 2017 album by the Siberian black metal band Devilgroth. I don’t know how much attention this album has received since it appeared, but I’m pretty confident that it hasn’t been noticed to the extent it should. I thought it was a revelation when I heard it last summer, and I still feel that way. As for “Nav'”, here were the thoughts I had after listening to it the first time:
“When you come to “Nav’“, you’ll soon be enveloped in an immense storm of dramatic sound whose deep grinding riffs and thunderous drumming are pierced by fire-breathing vocals and brain-spearing leads.
“The music becomes no less dramatic, and the pinging leads no less penetrating and alluring, as the pace slows. Further rhythmic changes lie ahead, along with a panoply of dark, powerful riffs. There is an ominous, staggering grandeur about the music, and a high level of riveting intensity in the music’s jarring rhythms, terrifying vocals, and cold, cruel chords.”
It is also, of course, memorable as well as fascinating.