OUR LIST OF 2021’S MOST INFECTIOUS EXTREME METAL SONGS (PART 21): THE LURKING FEAR, ANTI RITUAL, HIDEOUS DIVINITY, HUSQWARNAH, ΣΧΕΔΟΝ ΝΕΚΡΟΣ, GATECREEPER
The Lurking Fear
We’ve had an unusually high volume of content at NCS on this last day of January, but our flood of posts on this Monday now comes to an end with this one, though not in the way I originally expected.
I had vowed to myself and to you to close the rollout of this Most Infectious Song list today. But over the weekend I realized just how much I had overlooked, even after 20 installments and 65 songs (all of which you can find here). In part this was a result of consulting with my long-time NCS comrades Andy Synn and DGR (this is, after all, called “Our List”, even though the song choices are always my own decision). And so I’ve decided, after all, not to end the list today.
How much longer I’ll continue isn’t something I’ve figured out yet, but at least for a few more days and possibly to the end of the week, but not past that.
With all that said, here are five more songs for the list.
THE LURKING FEAR (Sweden)
This band of Swedish stalwarts, whose line-up includes well-known members of At the Gates and other notable bands, released a second album last November, emblazoned with the name Death, Madness, Horror, Decay. Doubling down on their devotion to old school death metal that’s heavy on the cosmic horror, they even brought in Chris Reifert (Autopsy, ex-Death) for guest vocals on the track “Kaleidoscopic Mutations”.
The album is devoted to compact tracks, and they all work well together, resulting in a record that feels more cohesive than the band’s debut album. Of all those, several could have made this list, but the chosen one is “Cosmic Macabre“, which came with a nice video. On the one hand, it’s a hard-charging assault of pummeling, chainsawing Swe-death mayhem. On the other hand, when the band shift gears a bit, it sounds spooky, and then blares like sirens. If you need a quick fix of adrenaline, this is your prescription.
ANTI RITUAL (Denmark)
I was induced to check out this album by Andy Synn‘s review, which described it in part as “ten short-but-savage bursts of blistering Blackened Hardcore that land somewhere between Wiegedood and Earth Crisis“, but with other influences that ranged fUrther afield than those. He wrote, for example, that you might “hear hints of Napalm Death in the go-for-the-throat gallop-and-blast of ‘No Human Is Illegal‘”.
That song is the one I’ve decided to include on this list, preceded by one final excerpt from Andy‘s review that definitely applies to this song: “Make no mistake about it, this is an angry, angry album… but it’s anger with a purpose, and a direction, every song absolutely brimming with righteous indignation and seething discontent, from a band who clearly have no intent of pulling their punches or mincing their words”.
HIDEOUS DIVINITY (Italy)
Hideous Divinity‘s 2021 EP LV-426 was a shared pleasure among us old-timers on the NCS staff, especially given our shared fondness for the Alien movies, but it was DGR who banged out the review. He spilled a lot of words for a 16-minute release, but that’s his way (and the words are fun, so there’s that too). I’ll just pull one passage which concerns the pair of original songs on LV-426 (there’s also a cover track), including the one I’m enthusiastically putting on this list (“Chestburst“):
Placing one against the other usually winds up with “Chestburst” winning out between the two original songs. “Acheron, Stream Of Woe” is a hugely ambitious track, nearly six and a half minutes of musical bulldozer, but “Chestburst” and its more compacted construction, coupled with its humongous bass tone (which is just auditory violence) and that gigantic ending hit is just bliss. Painful bliss, like having a house collapse on you bliss, but wow is “Chestburst” a weapon.
In early December I had the great good fortune to premiere and review this Italian band’s debut album Front: Toward Enemy. I was enormously impressed by their formulation of old school death metal:
Husqwarnah have unapologetically taken their influences from ’90s death metal, in the vein of such titans as Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, and Benediction. They name their album Front: Toward Enemy, and they indeed go to war in their music, using an armament of organ-rupturing drums, thick, jolting, lead-weighted riffs, vicious seething leads, voracious guttural growls, and blood-lusting screams.
They also ended the album with a cover of Rush’s “Dreamline”, which happened to feature a terrific guest vocal appearance by Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne. That was a surprise (and an album highlight), but not the only surprise. To identify another example, there’s the catchy little start-stop bass and guitar duet that takes place in the middle of the crushing “Ignoto1”. I confess that was one of the reasons I picked the song for this list from among others that also deserved the honor.
ΣΧΕΔΟΝ ΝΕΚΡΟΣ (Shedon Necros) (Greece)
I originally found out about this next song because erstwhile NCS contributor KevinP was banging the drum about it among friends, and I fell for it immediately. The band seems to include the man behind Agos and Virus of Koch. They also made a statement on Bandcamp to provide some more info: “Shedon Necros (Almost Dead in greek) is a death metal/hardcore band formed in Athens in March 2021. Their members have been active in the local black metal and hardcore punk scene in various periods since 1997. The lyrical subject is in Greek and presents a critical view on religious intervention and political oppression against personal freedom. Their debut album will be released in early 2022.”
As for the song I found out about from Kevin, it shares the name of the band. The big rumbling riff that opens it is an immediate head-snagger, and the song just gets more addictive as the riffing becomes increasingly feverish. Embellished by a nasty tone, the guitars viciously roil, jab, and jolt, backed by viscerally compelling drumwork and bestial bellows and barks. It’s an adrenaline-fueling mix of skull-slugging grooves and boiling chaos.
I sure hope they weren’t kidding about that debut album coming early this year.
In yesterday’s installment of this list I included two unusually long songs, and I’m closing today’s installment with another one. It’s the track that closes Gatecreeper‘s early 2021 release, An Unexpected Reality. Gonzo wrote the review of it for us, and let’s just say that he wasn’t wildly impressed with the first 7 songs on the record, each of which is about a minute long. But that closer, “Emptiness“, elicited a different reaction — and it sure as hell had an impact on me too. Gonzo wrote:
Clocking in at just over 11 minutes, it’s a total behemoth that transcends genres. It dives into a bottom-heavy death/doom hybrid in the first half, crushing you with the force of the Mariana Trench turning a nuclear submarine into a tin can. It then deftly switches gears and turns into a searing blackgaze assault that sees the band step out of their comfort zone and deliver something truly remarkable. Truth be told, “Emptiness” makes the rest of this release feel like preamble and nothing more…. [It’s} a towering achievement that shows the band’s creativity on overdrive….
Even at 11 minutes, this one is hard to forget, and that’s why it’s now on the list. (I’m also including a well-made video of a live performance of the song.)