As old-timers among the followers of our site will remember, I have a habit of grouping songs in the rollout of these lists in a way that makes sense to me. Part of the fun is in pairing up tracks that sound made for each other, sometimes because they share genre characteristics and sometimes because the flow of the mood just seems right. I had the feeling that combining the two tracks in this installment would be a good call — but you be the judge of that. I’ll add that both tracks were initially released with videos that I quite enjoyed; the first one in particular was one of the best of last year, in my humble opinion.
I should mention that if you happen to be encountering this series for the first time, you can go here to find out what it’s all about.
Many metal bands have come up with unique descriptors for their own music rather than rely on conventional genre terms. Most of them are simply clever (or not very clever) marketing tools rather than labels that have any meaningful connection to the music itself. But Conan’s name for their own brand of sound couldn’t be more perfect: “Caveman Battle Doom”. And I happen to have a crippling weakness for those sounds, perhaps because the music itself is so crippling.
I picked a song off Conan’s last album, Revengeance, for the 2016 edition of this list, and now for this edition I’ve selected one from their latest album, Existential Void Guardian, which was released last September by Napalm Records. It might actually be the least Conan-esque track on the album. A more compact and up-tempo jaunt than (for example) the other track I seriously considered for this list (“Vexxagon”), it nevertheless struck me as the catchiest, and it’s still capable of fracturing your neck bones and bursting a few internal organs.
Also, as mentioned, the video is fantastic. Armor up, saddle your battle snails, and ride to your doom with the deliciously named “Volt Thrower“:
I have a self-imposed rule against picking more than one song from a single album for this list, in order to make more room for more bands. Unfortunately, this often leaves me wrestling with myself over which song to pick from a record, because it’s often the case that a band capable of writing one highly infectious track will reveal that talent more than once. That was certainly true of the Finnish band Black Royal and their 2018 album Lightbringer.
I’ve gone back and forth between two songs from that album in particular — “Cryo-Volcanic” and “The Chosen”. The fact that both songs were presented through excellent music videos didn’t make things any easier, but I eventually settled on “The Chosen“. As I wrote when I first heard it, the track is a massive, gut-rumbling, head-moving behemoth, dark as night and immediately addictive, with an atmospherically occult melody that soars — and gargantuan vocals.
And perhaps when you hear it, you’ll understand why I thought it would make a good pairing with that Conan track.