Welcome to the eighth installment of this expanding list. You’ll find the preceding Parts (and an explanation of what this list is all about) through THIS LINK.
This trio of tracks may seem a bit odd, since it includes something from a band whose name is known by throngs across the globe and then two tracks by bands who are probably known to the average NCS visitor but whose profiles are ant-like in comparison to that of the opening band. In my own addled head, what unites these songs is that all three furnish riveting dramatic intensity, and of course they’re all damned memorable.
It may surprise some of you to know that we used to write about Gojira a lot. It may also surprise you to learn that the most popular post in the history of this site, based on its 32,074 page views (at last count), is one entitled “Why Gojira is the Best Metal Band in the World“, which was written in August 2010 by one of the people who started NCS with me (but fairly quickly lost interest). As a sign of his devotion, his body sports tattoos of imagery from the Gojira song “Vacuity”.
That original NCS writer has drifted away from metal in the ensuing years, but still pays attention to whatever Gojira puts out — and he told me he thought 2021’s Fortitude was their best album since the days of From Mars To Sirius and The Way of All Flesh.
This isn’t the time or place to rank Gojira’s albums, but I must admit that I also enjoyed Fortitude — not all of it, to be clear, but there are certainly individual songs that got me pumped up. That also seems to have been the reaction of Andy Synn, who reviewed it in a column entitled “Too Big To Fail?“, and concluded with the claim “that Fortitude is, overall, a very strong effort that combines many of the best elements of the band’s entire back-catalogue”.
I’ll repeat that there are many songs on Fortitude that I enjoy a lot, and I suspect groups of you do too. There were in fact several songs on Fortitude that I thought deserved consideration for this list. My comrade DGR and one of our readers recommended “Into the Storm”, which is one of the tracks I seriously considered. But I picked “Amazonia” instead, maybe because it more strongly reminded me of what Gojira were doing back in the days of those two albums mentioned above. I’ll excerpt part of what I wrote when I first heard the song and saw its video:
“In an almost primitive and ritualistic way, the music batters, clangs, and spookily wails, then becomes ferocious. It’s a bone-smasher and a neck-wrecker, and it soars in its fury (there’s a bit of throat-singing and a jaw-harp in the mix too). The beautifully made video gives us lots to be furious about.”
PAN AMERIKAN NATIVE FRONT (U.S.)
I really hope you’ve heard Little Turtle’s War by now, even if you might have missed its release almost a full year ago. Maybe its occasional mention in year-end lists spurred you to check it out. Of course many of our visitors heard it a long time ago, and loved it, as I did and as Andy Synn obviously did, given the laudatory tenor of his interesting review.
It’s an album that hasn’t faded from my memory despite the elapse of 12 months, and isn’t likely to fade after many more months to come. For me, the song least likely to fade is the inspiring “Battle of the Wabash“. I’ll repeat what I wrote about that song in a SHADES OF BLACK post at the end of January 2021:
“‘Battle of the Wabash‘, commemorates ‘the greatest indigenous military victory against a United States army at the Battle of the Wabash under the valiant leadership of Little Turtle and Blue Jacket.’ The opening riff rings with penetrating impact, seeming to channel intense anguish. After a dead stop, the drum cadence follows a militaristic pattern and the riffing becomes more immersive and magnetic. There’s a sense of tragic grandeur in these sweeping sounds, as well as sensations of torrential conflict and grim, defiant determination. The vocals, meanwhile, are absolutely shattering, and the song will also get your head moving”.
To close this installment of intensely dramatic and thought-provoking songs I’ve chosen “Grabenlieder” from the tremendous WWI-themed debut album Menschenmühle by this German band. That album was a rare occasion in which both I and Andy wrote a review — his was a more thorough one than mine. If you still need encouragement to listen to the album, I do recommend Andy‘s write-up here, and I’ll share this excerpt from my own:
“The music is relentlessly dynamic and dramatic, with an immense sound and a ‘widescreen’ sense of scale in its portrayals of violence and tragedy that suits the vastness of the war’s slaughter. It’s riddled with sensations of militaristic vehemence, frenzy, pain, hopelessness, and grief. It will routinely hammer your head to a pulp or slowly drag it into blood-soaked, corpse-packed pits, and just as often alter your moods through the piercing grip of its melodies. On a first pass, ‘Grabenlieder‘ hit me particularly hard, so if you want to just check out one track as a test you might try that one (though you really won’t go wrong with any of them)”.
“Grabenlieder” not only grabbed me hard on a first listen, it hasn’t loosened its hold since then — and so it was an easy choice to put it on this list.