Jan 222020


Three years ago I vowed that I would begin forcing myself to end these lists before the beginning of February, not because I would really be finished by then but because continuing it past that point had become embarrassing. I renewed the vow this year, and it hit me this morning that January 31st is only nine days away! Shit! Nine days away, and I’m not even close to naming all the songs I want to name.

Well, this means it’s time to expand the daily installments from two songs to three (or more). And I’m going to have to post installments on Saturday and Sunday too, if I can manage that. The three I’ve chosen today have a certain über-dark atmospheric kinship, as I hear them, in addition to being addictive. To catch up with the songs that preceded them on this list, go here.


I was very happy to see that Andy Synn decided to devote his November 2019 edition of THE SYNN REPORT to these frightening Germans, putting in one place streams of all their albums and allowing for a clear view of the ways in which their sound has evolved since 2006, culminating (for now) in 2019’s stunning Venenare, which Andy rightly acclaimed as “without a doubt, one of the most intense and impressive Black Metal albums of 2019”. Continue reading »

Jan 212020


For tomorrow’s installment of this list I’m diving deep into the underground again, but for this 12th Part I decided to include music from a couple of the biggest names in extreme metal. Both bands also seem to have arrived at a place where they’ve become… institutions (for want of a better word)… with a sound of their own that isn’t subject to significant change but is still usually appealing.


DGR began his extensive NCS review of The Heretics in this way: “To say that they’ve found a sound would be putting it politely; Rotting Christ not only found a sound, but they also basically defined it and then later let it define them. Especially in more recent years they have basically shifted from being a fire-fueled black metal nightmare into an almost Hollywood-esque war-drums-and-all hybrid of martial rhythms, ’70s prog guitar influences, and the straightforward guitar stomp and lead work that has made them so insanely catchy over the years. The group’s latest disc, The Heretics, is a giant block of that specific sound.” Continue reading »

Jan 202020


Welcome to Part 11 of our Most Infectious Song list. If you’re just joining us, you can see the preceding installments by following this link. The themes of today’s two selections are rage and violence. Given that, it might be an overstatement to call them “catchy”, but they’re both addictive as well as cathartic.


Things seem to have calmed down since Andy Synn‘s review of Cattle Decap‘s latest album stirred up an on-line hornet’s nest among the band’s fanatically devoted followers, or at least among those who didn’t bother to read the full review (or maybe any of it). Some people apparently overlooked such sentiments as these: Continue reading »

Jan 172020


It’s a necessity to find some strategy for the selection of songs for these year-end lists because the universe of worthy candidates is so enormous. And so, as I’ve mentioned before, I make a conscious effort to present a mix of genre styles, and I also intermingle music from both well-known and much more obscure names.

For today’s installment, I’ve paired two very well-known and successful bands, both of whom have made their mark playing doom-influenced melodic death metal, but have also evolved in interesting ways. Not coincidentally, the songs I picked also include a mix of clean and harsh vocals, and both were presented through especially memorable music videos.


I was so happy that In Mourning‘s newest album Garden of Storms (reviewed by us here and here) was home to several highly infectious tracks because that allowed me, in picking one of them, to put one of my favorite pieces of 2019 cover art on our page again (credit to Necrolord). Continue reading »

Jan 162020


Welcome to the 9th installment of this list. I paired these two songs together because both of them are multi-faceted and musically elaborate, and because they’re both kind of frightening. And of course because I think they’re quite infectious.


Lovers of Loftcraftian metal were rewarded for their devotion last fall by the arrival of Cosmicism, a new album from the great The Great Old Ones (that was not a typo). The album’s title refers to Lovecraft’s literary philosophy, summed up (in a press release we received) as the notion that “humans are godless creatures who are totally insignificant in the grand scheme of our cosmic universe”. The same press release also included this encouraging quote from the great man himself:

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.” Continue reading »

Jan 152020


As mentioned earlier today in the last installment of this growing list, I’m making an effort to catch up after a couple of missed days, and so we have two Parts today instead of one. For this one I’ve chosen tracks from two stand-out 2019 releases. To catch up yourselves on the choices that preceded these, follow this link.


I recognize that this first choice might be controversial, not because it’s a song from the latest Abigail Williams album, which rightly received plenty of acclaim in our own year-end lists as well as others, but because many of the people who embraced the album may have other favorite tracks that I didn’t choose.That’s the “problem” with an album like Walk Beyond the Dark. It’s so accomplished and so memorable that it makes the job of picking just one track, even for a list defined principally by “infectiousness”, a tough one. Continue reading »

Jan 152020


I’ve fallen behind in the rollout of this list, having failed to post installments on the first two days of this week. Rather than spend time detailing the excuses, I’ll use the time instead to catch up. Instead of posting one installment today, I’ll be posting two of them. That won’t completely make up for the lost two days, but I’ll figure out a way to make up for the other lost day.

Death Metal is the order of the day, at least for this Part 7, with two heavyweight songs that became addictions for me in 2019. (In case you’re new to this list, you can discover the preceding six installments here.)


Last May the Swedish band Mordbrand (whose music I’ve been trumpeting for a lot of years) released a fantastic two-track EP named Döden / Efter Doden. The lyrics of each song were taken from poems by Gustaf Fröding, who died in 1911, and is considered “one of the greatest poets of verse that Sweden has ever produced”. In his own life he struggled with alcoholism and mental illness, and according to the same source just quoted, “His poetry combines formal virtuosity with a sympathy for the ordinary, the neglected and the down-trodden, sometimes written with his own dialect. It is highly musical and lends itself to musical setting….” Continue reading »

Jan 112020


The two songs I decided to join together in this 6th installment of the list come from bands who made comebacks last year — and not the kind of comebacks that tend to produce yawns or regrets. Both of the albums were excellent, and I’d go so far as to say that the first of those was one of the best comebacks ever recorded. Obviously, both of them were also home to some very addictive songs as well.


Nocturnus carved their name in the death metal history books with the groundbreaking 1990 album The Key, after which certain members of the band trademarked the name and then fired the band’s founder Mike Browning (who also co-founded Morbid Angel). He carried on with other members of Nocturnus under the name After Death, releasing a handful of demos between 2002 and 2009, and a split with Unaussprechlichen Kulten in 2012. Continue reading »

Jan 102020


I’m usually pretty deep into the rollout of these annual lists before I get to some actual (gasp!) clean singing. But I’m getting there much faster this year with one of these two songs, both of which were immediate ear-worms, and proved to be lasting ones as well.


Pretty often, people pat themselves on the back when they were listening to a band back when only a tiny sliver of their current audience knew anything about them. I’m giving myself a pat on the back. I’ve been a drooling fan of High Command from Worcester, Massachusetts since 2016 when I heard their debut EP, The Secartha Demos (reviewed here).

I did some further drooling in print when they released their next EP, The Primordial Void, in 2017. Last year, at last, High Command released a debut full-length entitled Beyond the Wall of Desolation, via Southern Lord. Continue reading »

Jan 092020


I had to pause the rollout of this list yesterday. My effin’ day job put the squeeze on my NCS time, and I just didn’t have enough free mental space to get another installment finished. But now we resume. I should be able to post another Part tomorrow, and might do one over this coming weekend to make up for yesterday’s hole in the schedule.

It will probably become obvious why I decided to pair the following two songs: They’ll both tear your damned head off.


This was a tough one. I knew I’d name a song from the latest Misery Index album to this list, but had a devil of a time picking just one. As Andy Synn wrote in his review of Rituals of Power, Messrs. Netherton, Jarvis, Kloeppel, and Morris have become “a veritable Death Metal institution”, and with this 2019 album they produced something “that’s pretty much all killer, and zero filler” — “the sort of musical powerhouse that requires… in fact practically demands… to be listened to on repeat until both your body and your mind have been bludgeoned into submission”. Continue reading »