As I explained in the preceding installment of this list, posted earlier today, I wimped out in deciding which songs to pick here at the bittersweet end by letting Andy Synn make the final choices. For that preceding installment he picked songs from three of the albums he featured in his “Best of British” series of reviews last year. The three you’ll find in this final Part of the list for 2018 are more “general purpose extreme and nasty songs”.
For those of you who’ve been following this seemingly endless (but now ended) list, we appreciate your support and your patience. On Monday I’ll post a wrap-up that includes the complete list and links to all the installments, and to a Spotify playlist created by one of our readers that also includes all of them.
THE AGONY SCENE
Andy found The Agony Scene‘s 2018 release, Tormentor, to be one of those uncommon come-back albums that succeeded. The band produced “an album which sounds like a natural extension of their earlier work – albeit one informed by a solid decade of growth and experience – as well as an exploration of fertile new pastures”. As he observed in his review, “it doesn’t hurt that it also just so happens to be the darkest, most visceral album of their career”.
Andy also found some clear (and pleasing) parallels between some of the tracks on Tormentor and the music of Goatwhore:
[T[he blend of bulldozing blastery, frantic, blackened riffage, and grim ‘n’ gritty grooves found on “Like the Weeds in the Fields” and “Tormentor” could just as easily find a home on A Haunting Curse or Blood for the Master, while if you were to switch out the paint-stripping shriek of Michael Williams and replace it with the belligerent bark of Ben Falgoust on killer cuts like “The Ascent and Decline”, “The Submissive”, and “Serpent’s Tongue”, there’s a good chance nine out of ten listeners wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two bands, the resemblance really is that close.
Rather than any conscious attempt to ride the coattails of Goatwhore, however, Andy saw the parallels as “more like the result of unconscious synchronicity”, and he wrote that “when all is said and done, Tormentor stills feels like an Agony Scene album, and genuinely comes across as an organic evolution of the more abrasive and aggressive approach they were toying with prior to their break-up way back in 2008″.
One of those songs Andy named in the paragraph quoted above, “Serpent’s Tongue“, is the one he picked for this installment of the list. Definitely a killer cut, and a choice I definitely would second:
Andy chose Realms of Eternal Decay for his 2018 Critical Top Ten list, rather than other perhaps more obvious choices, to represent the “pure” Death Metal side of things, because he found the album “packed full of massive, hammer-smashed riffs and bloody, barbaric hooks from front to back, with nary a weak point, or a weak song to be found”. But he noted other reasons as well:
More importantly however, while it definitely pays an appropriate amount of tribute to its forefathers – I don’t just hear Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel, but also some solid chunks of Dying Fetus and Jungle Rot, and a nasty dose of Autopsy/Obituary too – it doesn’t ever sound exactly like any one of them and instead fuses these imposing influences together into a creeping, crawling, crushing hybrid of mutated Death Metal DNA that’s as furiously fresh as it is utterly fetid.
Out of all that creeping, crawling, crushing nastiness Andy picked “Putrid Dwelling” for this list, which perhaps may induce some of you who haven’t yet fully dived into this album yet to give it your shivering attention:
RITES OF THY DEGRINGOLADE
Andy made the discography of Rites of Thy Degringolade the subject of his SYNN REPORT for March of last year, presenting a series of reviews that culminated with the band’s latest album The Blade Philosophical. which showcased “what might be an even more progressive take on their signature brand of esoteric extremity”. He wrote:
Of course the term ‘progressive’ might make it seem like the band have mellowed somewhat [but] nothing could be further from the truth… The riffage is still as relentlessly rabid, the vocals still utterly voracious, and the drums still deliver an avalanche of explosive blastbeats and neck-snapping rhythmic twists with little to no regard for the listener’s safety (or sanity).
The atmosphere is thicker than ever, however, and the malignant melodies more deeply ingrained and integrated, seeming to seethe and slither across your skin like baleful fire even as the turbulent, chugging riffs and sledgehammer drums seek to shake and shatter your bones.
The album’s appeal only grew stronger as the year continued, leading Andy to put it on his Personal Top 10 list for 2018. The song he picked for this list — and the last song to be included on it — is the title track, of which he wrote:
The title-track is nine minutes of grim grooves and deviously dissonant un-melody, with a central core of spiky, spiteful hooks which are as cruel as they are catchy, which only grows darker, heavier, and more horrific as it progresses, concluding in a climactic barrage of withering brutality and unearthly ambience….