Welcome to the 9th installment of this list. I paired these two songs together because both of them are multi-faceted and musically elaborate, and because they’re both kind of frightening. And of course because I think they’re quite infectious.
THE GREAT OLD ONES
Lovers of Loftcraftian metal were rewarded for their devotion last fall by the arrival of Cosmicism, a new album from the great The Great Old Ones (that was not a typo). The album’s title refers to Lovecraft’s literary philosophy, summed up (in a press release we received) as the notion that “humans are godless creatures who are totally insignificant in the grand scheme of our cosmic universe”. The same press release also included this encouraging quote from the great man himself:
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
Andy Synn reviewed the album for our putrid site and included these thoughts: “Whether it’s the grisly grandeur and hypnotic, hyper-speed intensity of ‘The Omniscient’, whose nine-and-a-half minutes seem to stretch and dilate in defiance of all natural laws, the stunningly malevolent, yet shamelessly majestic, melodies of ‘Of Dementia’, or the doom-laden denouement of ‘Nylarthotep’, Cosmicism contains some of the most engaging, engrossing, and viscerally compelling material of the band’s career.”
Delving a bit deeper into that album, each song features a Lovecraftian entity. The song I chose for this list, “The Omniscient“, is centered on the Lovecraftian Outer God, Yog-Sothoth. Here I’ll repeat what I wrote after hearing the song for the first time last year:
“Don’t be misled by the softness of the haunting, reverberating strings at the outset. It’s a beguiling way to begin, though the tension begins to build as the rest of the band join in — and then a storm breaks in a fusion of writhing guitars, thunderous bass, and blasting drums. The bleak melody rises and falls as it cascades forward, an insidious and insinuating force that operates like a spell, despite the imperious ferocity of the vocals.
“Other softer moments are yet to come, equally entrancing but also ominous. The tension builds again, and breaks in a jolting, jarring surge of power. Flickering strings and sweeping symphonic layers soar above, creating an air of frightening, otherworldly grandeur — an atmosphere of fear, irresistible attraction, exultation, and madness.”
“The Omniscient“ is a stupendously good song, and it’s also a powerfully memorable one, which is why it’s now on this list.
The Polish band Thy Worshiper released their first demos in 1994 and 1995, and four unevenly spaced albums followed those over the next 20 years. The band’s 1996 debut album, Popiół (Introibo ad Altare Dei), became the source of the name of a new black metal band consisting of former and current members of Thy Worshiper, who recorded a debut album that they described as a continuation of that 1996 record.
Zabobony is the name of this debut album, released in February of 2019. The band have said that the opening track, “Wybiło“, (which was first presented through a disturbing yet transfixing music video), was originally intended to be the opening song on the sequel to Popiół (Introibo ad Altare Dei), which never came. The song tells us, they say, “about what is hidden in noisy trees, wind and streams, about what we are afraid to think about and those who come to us in dreams….”
The multi-faceted music within “Wybiło” is deep, dark, perilous, haunting, and ferocious, both heavy and light in its sound, with especially livid vocals. It’s also a big head-mover and a big ear-worm. The interweaving of bright acoustic melody, ravaging, explosive power, and soaring harmony makes the song a jaw-dropper. And, as noted, a damned catchy beast too.