Well, look at what happened. No sooner than I said in the last installment of this list that I wouldn’t have time to double-up on these posts in an effort to catch up from six missing days of the rollout, now I’ve gone and done it. (But don’t expect that I’ll be able to continue doing it.)
Unlike most of these installments, I have no particular rhyme or reason why I grouped these three songs together. I’ve searched my subconscious to figure out why, and have come up empty. Maybe it’s simply because I couldn’t find other groupings in which they would comfortably fit. Maybe it’s because I imagined (with a grin) the whiplash effect they would have on you when listening to them back-to-back-to-back.
No surprise here, it was guaranteed that something from Anaal Nathrakh’s Endarkenment album would be on this list. If there was any anticipation or intrigue, that might have come only from wondering which song I would pick, because there were so many worthy options. Indeed, after compiling the lists generated by our readers, by myself, and by my comrade DGR, there were almost a half-dozen candidates.
What I picked, after listening to all the candidates again, was the album’s title track. It’s not as menacing, as bleakly panoramic, or as jolting as “Libidinous”, and not as infernally twisted and unsettling as “Beyond Words”, but it’s such a brilliant amalgam of blast-furnace ferocity, high-flying sparkling leads, and gloriously anthemic power-metal vocal choruses, that it won out. (Similar ingredients, along with streamers of beautiful celestial melody, made “Feeding the Death Machine” a very close second in my thinking.)
Really, you can always count on Undergang. You can count on them to get your head bobbing like a cork in a vat of filthy, frothy sewerage while a monster growls and roars at you from abyssal depths. The devouring song I picked for this list from their 2020 album Aldrig i livet is uglier than a gargoyle, but it has visceral rhythmic power, and the squirmy leads, while unmistakably diseased, seem bizarrely joyful. It’s a great way to jump-start your pulse whenever your battery goes dead on any given day during our current dismal epoch. It has reliably done that for me on multiple occasions.
The song is “Menneskeæder“. Google Translate renders it from Danish into English as “human-eating”, which sounds about right. And it was presented through a nasty, blood-soaked video filmed and edited by Martin Goltermann/Muskerdonner Medier.
Long songs don’t often make an appearance in these lists I do every year, especially ones that begins with shining celestial tones, crystalline female singing, the chants of a reverent Gregorian choir, and ringing strummed chords. Equally rare is the appearance of a song from an album that was never the subject of any posts at our site — neither before, during, nor after it was released. In fact, I only paid close attention to the album after seeing it mentioned on many a year-end list.
The outset of the song is definitely more mesmerizing than extreme, especially when accompanied in the track’s official video by such wondrous imagery. Even those first 6 1/2 minutes have an infectious quality (or maybe beguiling is a better word), but it’s what comes next that makes the song fit this list’s title more naturally. The shining celestial tones persist in flowering peals of sound, but now they’re joined with punishing radioactive chords, unnerving string squeals, skull-busting drums, misery-oozing leads, and thoroughly unhinged screams. The combined effect of all that is disturbing and dismantling.
Why do I find it “infectious”? Well, I guess it’s because I keep going back to the song, and keep getting stunned by it every damned time.
The song is the title track to Vile Creature‘s 2020 album Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm!