As I’ve remarked before about this series, the songs many of us find highly infectious are not necessaruly truly great artistic achievements, nor is there any necessary connection between an infectious track and a great album. But as it happens, I truly do believe that all three songs I’ve chosen for this Fifth Part of the list are great songs and they come from great albums.
Of course I’m far from alone in thinking these three albums are great ones — all of them achieved high praise when they came out, and made frequent appearances on year-end lists across the interhole, including those at our own dank hole.
Earlier today we posted a 2021 “List of Lists” that aggregated 97 year-end lists from 26 international critics, magazines, blogs, and other publications. In what was undoubtedly the biggest surprise (except for people who’ve actually heard it), Worm‘s album Foreverglade took the No. 6 spot, and only narrowly missed placing in a very closely packed Top 5 that included much more well-known names. As the person who compiled that list proclaimed, Worm “made funeral death/doom cool again”.
We’ve given this Floridian band a fair amount of attention in the past, including a track premiere and an interview in the vicinity of their two preceding albums, Evocation of the Black Marsh and Gloomlord, but somehow we got through 2021 without ever providing a proper review of Foreverglade (shame on us), although it got lots of attention in our year-end Listmania series.
In my humble opinion, Foreverglade earned every bit of praise it has received, and the song I’ve picked from it for this list is a great demonstration of why that is. There are so many aspects of “Murk Above the Dark Moor” that cause it to stick in the head like a spike — the towering immensity of the sound, the enormous stomping grooves and ruinous jackhammering outbursts, the gargantuan gutturals and strangled screams, the preternatural leads (both shrill and groaning), the haunting melodic keyboards, and the stupendous guitar solo in the closing minutes which really lifts the song into rarefied air.
SUFFERING HOUR (U.S.)
Suffering Hour’s The Cyclic Reckoning didn’t become the mass media darling that Foreverglade did, but from my observation it definitely made a very favorable impact in more underground circles, including our own. It made several of the year-end lists we published, including Andy Synn‘s Critical Top 10, as well as 11 of our reader lists (at last count). I’ll excerpt what Andy wrote when he put it on that Top 10 list:
“With its roiling blend of jagged riffs and whirling drums, acid-laced anti-melodies and guttural, bowel-quaking vocals this is the sort of brooding, blistering, and hypnotically heavy ‘Blackened Death Metal’ that truly brings out the best in both worlds.
“But whether you consider this Black Metal for Death Metal fans, or Death Metal for Black Metal fans, it’s ultimately the album’s embrace of psychotropic dissonance and psychedelic ambience which makes it one of the year’s true stand-outs, as well as one of the (very) few albums I’ve ever encountered that could conceivably, and with very little hyperbole, be compared to bands like Weakling, Teitanblood, and Oranssi Pazuzu – all at the same time! – without actually sounding like any one of them.”
The song from the album I’m now adding to this list, “The Abrasive Black Dust Part II“, captivated me from the first listen. I still chuckle over what Andy wrote about the song in his album review, calling it an “acid-laced blend of Black Metal and The Beatles… which could just as easily have been titled ‘Lucy in the Sky With Demons'”.
I wouldn’t have thought of The Beatles, but I get where he was coming from. The song gets plenty vicious — unnervingly so — but it’s the ringing guitar melodies announced at the outset and appearing again later in more frenzied and forlorn form that make the music so enthralling and so distinctly memorable. And what happens to the song beginning at the 6:00 mark still sends tingles down my spine. It’s an incredible closing two minutes, and cinched this as a choice for the list.
MARE COGNITUM (U.S.)
This next song is a rarity for this list, in this year or any other year, because the track is such a long one — topping 11 minutes. Much can be said about long-form songs, but it’s often difficult to honestly label them as infectious. But this one truly is — indeed, it seems to stop time, or to make it fly much faster than the clock count tells you. And as mentioned at the outset it’s a great song in many other respects — indeed, I have trouble thinking of another from last year that’s as stupendously glorious as this one — and it comes from yet another great album.
Because “Antaresian” is a long one, it does change, revealing different sensations, but it blazes and soars throughout. It is turbulent, molten, and laced with jolting lightning strikes that are part of what makes it stick in the head. It glitters like a panorama of gold, reaches spectacular heights of feverish exultation, and provokes involuntary physical movement. And on top of all that, Jacob Buczarski‘s vocals are in the red zone of intensity. The song’s tremendous energy never abates for more than a moment, and I’m grateful for its relentlessness.