Welcome to Part 6 of this expanding list. You’ll find the preceding Parts (and an explanation of what this list is all about) through THIS LINK.
All three of the songs featured today were included in my part of the playlist that DGR, Andy Synn, and I put together for a September 2021 guest DJ appearance on Gimme Metal (and speaking of which, we three are doing another guest DJ appearance on January 25th). I included these three songs for a reason — because all three are so damned infectious. They had all gotten stuck firmly in my head by that point, and I was eager to infect other people with them. Obviously, I still am.
FIAT NOX (Germany)
Last year we had the honor of premiering a new EP by this German band (In Contemptuous Defiance) in advance of its October release by Personal Records. In an accompanying review I wrote that this new release “further elevates the place of Fiat Nox as a band capable of creating marvelously dynamic and multi-faceted music that gets the blood racing with its muscular, hard-charging aggression but also creates wholly enthralling atmosphere through its emotionally powerful melodies”.
The EP is wonderful from beginning to end, but “Amok Hymn” is the track that grabbed me the hardest. The fiery and feverish opening riff, which re-surfaces again and again, is immediately addictive. And the song is unrelenting in its heart-pumping power. The hammering propulsive drive, the sinister and savage riffing, and the ravenous intensity of the vocal tirades ensure that. But the song is also a thriller because of its dynamism — from the skull-popping beats and infectious yells to the bubbling bass solo and the sweeping melodic blaze behind it.
When I wrote about the song in that afore-mentioned review I promised it would have a place on this list, and so it does.
THE SILVER (U.S.)
Ward of the Roses was the 2021 debut album by this band, which includes members of Horrendous and Crypt Sermon. It was home to more than one song that I seriously considered for this list. The one I chose is the first track I heard, and one I wrote about pretty quickly after it surfaced. Knowing the nature of our usual denizens around here, I preceded my impressions with an appeal to people not to skip the track, despite the roses on the album cover and PR references about “romanticism” and “goth”. And then I wrote this about “Fallow“:
“It doesn’t sound romantic at first, unless perhaps you’re a necromantic. All the instrumental maneuvers are fascinating, but unnerving, and the disturbances within those combined sounds become more extreme as the drums begin blasting away and the guitars wail. The avant-garde (for want of a better word) escapades of the instrumentalists just get more and more interesting, though the hair-raising screams ensure that you’re not going to get too comfortable no matter how enthralled you may become by the madness and the magic that have been given free rein in the song, or by the singing and soloing, both of which are great. What a wonderfully gripping and head-spinning song this is!”
It still is, and so now it’s on this list:
Hjelvik is the current project of ex-Kvelertak frontman Erlend Hjelvik and a group of talented compatriots that he recruited to his side. They released a debut album in fall 2020 named Welcome to Hel that I never got around to thoroughly checking out, but I did pay attention to their 2021 single “Synkverving“ (released last August), in part because I was curious about the animated music video created for it by Zak Kirwin, and in part because it includes guest vocals and organ by Lars Are Nedland of White Void and Borknagar.
I thoroughly enjoyed that gory and supernatural animated video. It suited the primitive, sinister nature of the song. Even as the poor protagonist meets his grisly end, he gets the chance (even though he’s bleeding out) to rock his balls off when the band kick the song into a higher gear. And we get to rock out too. Obviously, it’s damned infectious or you wouldn’t be seeing it here.