We have come at last to the final day of this list, which I began rolling out on January 11th, and which I pledged to myself I would finish before February. Like yesterday, there will be two large installments today.
In this one the songs have certain stylistic connections, as I hear them (at least until you reach the final track) — which probably means nothing more than me thinking they make an interesting and powerful playlist.
It seems that every year, at least in recent memory, brings reunions and revivals. The latest Godflesh album, Post Self, wasn’t exactly a reunion or a revival — A World Lit Only By Fire did come out only three years earlier — but it still seemed like a revival, or at least a resurgence, a vivid rekindling of memories without sounding like a cash grab.
The compulsive thump and whump of the title track digs in, fixing its rhythms in the reptile part of your brain, and then infiltrating its seditious melodies, freakish arpeggios, and brain-abrading vocal excretions while your body is in the throes of the beats. If you move the body, the head will follow.
I’ve had a soft spot for Ghold for a few years now. It’s that place in my skull that they’ve turned into mush, like the place in a newborn’s fledgling cranium you could depress like a sponge if it didn’t creep you out to touch it.
The next track greets you with an immediate swirling vortex of sound, an electrifying torrent of somersaulting drums and swarming guitar, with enormous groaning chords that turn out to provide a big hook all the way through the track.
Spectral lights seem to glow within this rush of compulsive drum patterns and high, raw, mind-raking vocals, which straddle a line between clean and harsh, between soulful and sadistic.
The music is earth-shaking and mind-blowing, except for a bit of eerie quasi-silence near the end, which is only a preclude to a final bloody stomp and ruinous fanfare.
This is “Ruptured Earth (Head In Sand)” from Ghold’s latest album, Stoic. It was recorded in the Leeds Unitarian Chapel, which may have something to do with the way it sounds.
THE MONOLITH DEATHCULT
Most of us here at our putrid site have been ardent followers of TMDC for many years, probably as much for their riotously funny, self-effacing humor as for the planet-busting impact of their music. And come to think of it, that incongruity is a huge part of their appeal: Their music is slaughtering, their lyrics intelligent, reflecting the observations of students of history, and the rest of their brainy schtick seems to take nothing seriously.
But they’re not fooling me. The craft of their music is careful enough, and so well-calculated, that I’m pretty sure they take the music seriously. Or perhaps they’re merely fun-loving savants.
When Andy Synn reviewed TMDC’s 2017 “album”, the first in a three-part spree, he got to pick a song to premiere at the same time, and he chose “Die Glocke“, which he characterized as a manifestation of “humongous doomery”, one in which the band addressed the failure of the Nazi atomic programme and its relationship with monstrous Lovecraftian deities from beyond, and in which the song “heaves its massive bulk into view, all gargantuan, guttural vocals, titanic riffs, and even some surprisingly subtle and creepy acoustic guitar work”.
It was Andy’s favorite track on the album, and I’m very partial to it as well.
Winnipeg’s Occvlt Hand chose one of 2017’s best titles for their new album: Not Everyone Deserves A Happy Ending. And who could argue with that? They didn’t exhaust their storehouse of bleak, memorable titles after they named the album. They’ve got a song on the record called “Total Fucking Absence of Light” and another one named “Smash My Bones, Inhale the Dust“. And then there’s the song I picked for this list: “He Who Walks Behind the Rows“.
Occvlt Hand blend hardcore, metal, and a damned caustic outlook on life, and this song in particular is heavy as hell, both in its grim atmosphere and in the sheer physical impact of its teeth-cracking bass lines, its jaw-fracturing drum blows, and the cruelty of its hammering and groaning riffs. The gritty harsh vocals are just as murderous as everything else, and when the band accelerate from their mid-paced bludgeoning near the end, the track becomes a destructive, pile-driving juggernaut.
Did I mention that it’s narcotically addictive, and a serious head-mover, too? And that it’s too short?
I suppose many people could have forgotten that this song by the Ukrainian Balfor came from an album released in 2017. The song itself appeared through a metal-as-fuck video in November 2016, which we ourselves premiered. The album, Black Serpent Rising, was released more than a year ago, just barely into 2017. But I haven’t forgotten it.
Serpents, fire, blood, and bone. Torches burning and bonfires blazing. A night lit by sparks and cloaked by wood smoke from the blaze. Invocations of power and praise to the drawing of steel. Remembrances of a barbarous past, consecrated in blood. The video for this song captures such visions, but your mind’s eye could create them simply from the music.
The time-worn but fitting adjective “epic” leaps to mind in considering the impact of “Serpents of the Black Sun”. The music is fierce and powerful, barbarous and majestic. It hits with a jolting physicality and a dark, sweeping intensity that matches the imagery in the video. It’s heroic, yet grim and somber.
Perhaps what makes the song stand out more than anything else is the guitar solo, which comes almost as a surprise. It’s a moment of beauty and grandeur that elevates the atmosphere of the song into something mythic, soon followed by clean voices that rise above the music’s driving tumult.