Well, those of you who’ve been following this list know that I fucked up and didn’t post the next installment yesterday. I had some unforeseen and immediate obligations to deal with in my personal life. It was all I could do to write the premieres I had promised for yesterday. So now (if you’ve been counting), I have two missed days to make up. It’s looking more and more likely that I won’t finish by the end of January after all.
Excuses aside, today’s episode is another one in which I didn’t try to group songs that shared strong stylistic similarities and instead just wanted to make sure that I put these songs on the list before time ran out. Still, I do think they make a great playlist.
I gave a hint not long ago that there would be a Sorcery song on this list, and so there is, just as there was in the 2013 and 2016 editions of this list. Basically, with every album these Swedes have put out since their resurrection after a long dormancy, I’ve become so addicted to their songs that I’ve felt compelled to honor them in this way.
The latest album, the beautifully named Necessary Excess of Violence, was released last August, adorned once again by the magnificent cover art of Juanjo Castellano. It’s not exactly a re-tread of the album before, nor was that one a re-hash of the one before that. But although the albums reflect subtle changes, perhaps in part due to line-up shifts, Sorcery can always be relied upon to deliver raw, bone-grinding, death-thrashing Swedish savagery and more hooks than you’ll find in a big commercial trawler.
This is one of those albums where no matter which song I picked, I’d expect an argument from fans of the bands — because so many of the songs are so alluring that lots of people will have lots of favorites. I gave serious consideration to “King of Nothing”, “The Darkest Part of You”, and “Of Blood and Ash”, in particular, but finally picked “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark“. If its hammering beat and flaring riff don’t get your head moving within five seconds, you may be in need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (but don’t look at me, I don’t know where your mouth has been).
Apart from its intensely head-moving qualities and deliciously radioactive guitar tone, the song is wild — from the unhinged vocals to the shrieking guitar solo. And it’s also massive in its mauling heaviness, and authentically morbid. That ability to channel sensations that are gruesome, ghastly, destructive, and delirious, all within the same song, is an example of why Sorcery continue to sound so fiercely alive more than 30 years after they began.
Like Sorcery, WarCrab is a band we’ve been following for a while, and another band who’ve made a previous appearance on this annual list (the 2016 list, to be precise, with a song from their second album Scars of Aeons). Their third full-length, Damned In Endless Night, was reviewed for us by Andy Synn, who found that although “the band’s DNA remains pretty much unaltered – part Autopsy/Asphyx, part Bolt Thrower/Benediction, part Carcass/Crowbar… with a bit of Celtic Frost and Paradise Lost added in to round out the alphabet”, the record was “bigger, bolder, and better than before.” Which was saying something.
Like that Sorcery album above, and many others that have furnished songs for this list, Damned In Endless Night was home to more than one candidate (including a track that we ourselves premiered). After much backing-and-forthing, I put my grubby finger on “Blood For the Blood God” Because how can you not pick a song called “Blood For the Blood God“?
As Andy wrote, it’s “pure Death/Doom devastation”. The sense of catastrophe and misery in the song is potent, but I confess that what landed it on this list is what begins happening at precisely 2:36, and again at precisely 5:16. The solo in between those moments is sick too ( and I do mean diseased).
To close today’s installment I’m going with a song from an album that got my comrade DGR very excited, and me too based on his recommendation. Which makes kind of a pleasing touching-of-the-bases, since this trio of tracks now includes one favored by each of three of the four longest-running writers at NCS.
In his review, DGR wrote that he found the album thanks to “the random-band button at Metal-Archives“. As if he didn’t have enough to listen to from the torrent of promotional e-mails we receive every day. The title of this Swedish band’s latest album, False God Of Death, caught his eye, and the simply stated cover art somewhat sealed the deal.
What he found, as he wrote, was music that “bears a lot of the hallmarks of the melodeath genre: grand keyboard swells, hefty two-step-driven guitar work, and a snarling vocalist hovering in the mid-high range whose vocal delivery is as percussive as their drummer is”. What he also found was an album that was “spread out all over the place when it comes to the various styles that have stratified the genre over the years”, bringing to mind everything from Dark Tranquillity to The Haunted and Skeletonwitch.
He gave particular attention to the album’s fourth track: “In the case of ‘Through The Others‘ the track starts out suitably epic, with its synth playing sounding perfect to fill a concert hall with all of the various echoing acoustics included, before the band march into one of the more caveman-heavy chugging moments on False God Of Death. It levels out from there, but the consistent switching between the two styles and all the spectra in between — including the brief moment of calm about a third of the way into “Through The Others” before its first big chorus — is a dynamic that plays out constantly throughout the album”.
I got hooked on the song too, and had no reticence including it on this list, because it gives me a thrill every time I hear it — and hopefully it will do the same for you.