Temple of Dread
You may have noticed that I didn’t post one of these installments yesterday. What can I say? I write these things on a “day of” basis instead of the night before, and yesterday was just a fucked-up day. One of those days when one unexpected distraction after another slashed into my NCS time. To make up for that, my plan is to post two of these installments today, provided that the universe doesn’t throw any more knives at me.
I’m leaning into death metal with these three picks. I get a big kick out of every one of these songs, and listening to them one after the other is an even bigger kick. I hope you’ll agree that it’s a hell of a three-song rush. To check out the 49 songs that have preceded these on the list, go HERE.
TEMPLE OF DREAD (Germany)
I had the pleasure of reviewing and premiering a full stream of Temple of Dread‘s 2021 album Hades Unleashed, and quickly became addicted to the whole thing. It’s so packed with infectious songs that I thought the only way I could pick just one for this list would be to tape the track list to a wall, close my eyes, and throw a dart at it.
It’s one of those albums where if you asked me five days in a row about the song I find most infectious I’d probably give you five different answers. Today, my answer is the album opener, “Aithon’s Hunger“. It was a great choice as a way to kick things off. To quote from my review:
The fuse starts burning at some point before you press play on the album, because “Aithon’s Hunger” explodes immediately when you do that, detonating in a blast wave of battering drums, blazing riffage, and absolutely scorching vocals. The music is brazen and broiling, blaring and barbarous, with a feeling of unhinged yet glorious ferocity. The rapidly shifting drumwork is marvelous, and so is the morphing fretwork, which becomes cruel and ominous as well as crazed — and the soloing is as exhilarating as it is eerie and berserk.
Interesting coincidence: Temple of Dread‘s 2021 album includes a song named “Whores of Pompeii“, and Redemptor‘s 2021 full-length (Agonia) has a song called “Les Ruines de Pompeii“, which happens to be one that I premiered in advance of the album release. At the time of the premiere I thought that song was a strong candidate for this list — and it still is — but that was before I heard the rest of the album.
Now, my choice is “Further From Ordeal“. I paid extra attention to it because Andy Synn (who reviewed Agonia for us) gave it a push for this list. In a nutshell, Andy made the argument in his review that Redemptor are at the forefront of a movement to “refine/define a form of Death Metal that’s actually new”, a form that he called “Post-Death Metal”, with its roots in such artists/albums as Organic Hallucinosis-era Decapitated, From Mars… period Gojira, and post-Destroyers Ulcerate“. He continued:
It’s not so much that the band have abandoned the traditional elements of Death Metal – far from it, in fact – but that they’ve focussed even more on how, and why, these various elements interlink and intertwine, finding the space between them and letting the layers of distortion, melody, and atmosphere breathe a little bit more.
It’s still dense as a dying star, make no mistake, but there’s an impression of volume – in more than just a physical sense – underlying each of these tracks, especially slower and/or more atmospherically-inclined numbers like “Further From Ordeal” and “Wounds Unhealed”….
I do think “Les Ruines de Pompeii” is overall a better song than “Further From Ordeal“, but the latter is just a bit more infectious — and it’s a fantastic song too.
This makes SNĚŤ‘s second appearance on one of these Most Infectious Song lists. The first time was when I picked one of the two tracks off an untitled demo for the 2019 edition of this list. A pretty obscure choice I guess, but that demo made a really strong impression. I wished out loud when I wrote about that song that the band would give us a significant follow-up — and hell yes they did.
The follow-up was a debut album named Mokvání V Okovech, which was released last May. Here at NCS I premiered one of its tracks (“Folivor”), and the record made our Andy Synn‘s list of the year’s “Good” albums. It’s well worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of death metal in the vein(s) of such bands as Undergang, Funebrarum, Autopsy, and Carcass.
The song I picked for this list is one I wrote about after it first came out:
The full-bore drumming in “Kůň Kadaver” truly does hit like a high-caliber automatic weapon, and the blaring riff that opens the track seizes attention immediately. And then the song becomes a juggernaut crusher, with rock-grinding bass lines, pile-driving grooves, and brutish stomps alternating with galloping beats and deep, drilling chords. Spurts of boiling guitar work continue to give the music a feeling of destructive madness, and a quivering solo adds an atmosphere of the supernatural — and the vocals are just goddamned monstrous.