In my mind it was a foregone conclusion that this list would include something off the 2022 albums by these three bands. Picking just one track from each of them was a bigger challenge — and yes, my self-made and self-imposed rule for this list is that it will include only one song by any one band, hard as it might be to pick just one.
Why I decided to put the following three songs together in one segment of the list, I’m not 100% sure, but it may have had something to do with the fact that all three songs were first presented with three excellent videos.
I think I could have written a track list for Acts of God, taped it to the wall, closed my eyes, and thrown a dart at it, and wherever the dart struck on the track list would have made a fine choice for one of 2022’s most infectious songs. Not wanting to further disfigure any walls, or more likely to hit something a few feet away from the target, I tried to approach the task a little more rationally, but impulse won out anyway.
Acts of God was justly acclaimed far and wide, including by our own Andy Synn in his review and by DGR in a mini-review that accompanied his anointing of the album on his year-end list. It seems highly unlikely that anyone reading this hasn’t heard all or part of the album, and whereas lots of “big name bands” make year-end lists at some locations because of their labels’ heft or because they are A NAME, Immolation earned it last year.
So, which song? Honestly, what tipped the scales in my head toward “The Age of No Light” rather than other possibilities (including DGR’s preference for “Incineration Procession”) was the fact that the song was first released along with a first-class video that succeeded in making the music even darker and heavier, while allowing us to see the four badasses in this band doing their badass things. I can watch the video as often as I listen to the song. Of course, the song itself is damned memorable and easy to go back to, repeatedly.
With their 2020 debut album Konvent made a big splash, along the lines of a mega-meteor hitting the ocean. Surely the fact that the band’s members were all women had something to do with the attention they drew, but that novelty would have grown stale if the album hadn’t been as good as it was. Still, the rocket-like rise of Konvent must have left some of us wondering whether they might have felt a bit intimidated when they turned their attention to making a second album, i.e., facing the challenge of living up to sudden fame.
If they might have felt intimidated about the scrutiny they knew so many people would focus on a new record, it obviously didn’t cause a choke reflex, because their sophomore full-length Call Down the Sun turned out to be a rock solid slab of doom with veins of death, or death with veins of doom.
That album was home to some obvious candidates for this list, but honestly, after I first listened to “Pipe Dreams” and watched the video for it, I was immediately convinced it should be on this list, even though I knew I’d have to wait 11 months to make it official. It’s the kind of big bone-smashing bruiser that puts listeners into a full-body heave. The vocals are tremendous, and the music is as contagious as it is black-hearted and menacing.
Like the two albums that produced the first two songs in today’s installment, Pain Is Forever and This Is the End was home to multiple songs that I thought were obvious candidates for this list. As Andy put it in his review:
From the take no prisoners energy of “Egoisto” to the album’s hypnotically doomy denouement “Odysseus”, this is a record of honest-to-goodness Blackened Punk-Metal anthems, each one as devastatingly catchy, deliriously groovy, and dynamically hefty as the next.
And while Mantar have never been shy about throwing around big, bombastic riffs and instantly-infectious hooks before, songs like the irresistibly infectious “Grim Reaping”, the electrifyingly intense “Piss Ritual”, and the sinister, swaggering “Walking Corpse”, practically take these aspects of the band to a whole new level.
And hell yeah, “Grim Reaper” is irresistibly infectious, and I think it’s the most infectious of all the album’s tracks. But I confess that here again the great video for the song helped push it to the top of my thinking.
There’s some dark humor in the video, but to be sure, “Grim Reaping” isn’t a happy song. Its name tells you that, and the lyrics and Hanno‘s vocals make the grimness even more palpable. But the song’s infectiousness is undeniable, and its grooves primal in their punch. The video’s ending is in line with the song’s conception — which Hanno explained thusly:
“‘Grim Reaping’ is about the simple insight that you cannot win life. No matter what you do, what you try… death remains the great unifier. And in death we will be genuine and pure.“