Alright! After pissing on your days by reminding you that shitty bands exist, I took the slave whip in hand and forced Steel Druhm to puke out 10 songs he really liked this year. Now the process has fallen to me, and I regret it. It’s not easy coming up with the 10 best songs from the year, and I will inevitably miss some. But I soldiered on the Angry Metal Champ I am and have produced this list of the year’s 10 best metal songs. Please, enjoy!
#10: “Storytime”- Nightwish – While the record wasn’t exactly the greatest thing I’d ever heard, “Storytime” totally got me really fucking stoked to hear the album. This song is just everything Nightwish is and should be sort of boiled down to a fine paste. And man, they did such a good job of it. This track is like the unholy union of ABBA and Nightwish, thereby creating an Angry Metal Kryptonite that I fall victim for every time I hear it. It’s like I don’t want to listen, but then suddenly I’m knocked onto the floor singing “I am the voice of Neverneverland!” Due to these sort of obsessive compulsions, I cannot deny that this track belongs on this list. But know that it’s grudging.
#9: “The Violation” – Fleshgod Apocalypse – Alright, so I wasn’t blown away by this album as everyone is aware. But man did I love this song. I don’t have a ton to say about it beyond “wow, listen to those orchestrations!” So, wow! Listen to those orchestrations! While the drums kind of piss on the production a lot, the chorus was definitely cool and the song writing was smart, concise and enjoyable. This is just a kick ass song that definitely ranks among the best and most memorable of the year. By the way, it would have been just as (or more) awesome if all that melody had been played on the guitars instead of keyboards. Just a thought.
#8: “FFF” – Shining – I cannot explain why this song really stuck with me more than the others on this album (or this year), but it just did. I think partially it’s because I turned the chorus into a bit of a joke with Angry Metal Girlfriend when she wanted me to do things I didn’t want to do (“Jag säger nej [NEJ!] till diskandet!”) but this track with its creepy ’70s sounding keyboards and its creeping pace just settled in under my skin and stuck. The riffs are memorable and slick, and while the solo is maybe even a tad much, the acoustic parts and melodies are just fantastic. There’s a bit of an Opeth vibe going on here and I straight up dig it.
#7: “Frost upon Their Graves” – Crimfall – By now it should be well known that I think that Helena Haaparanta is the most talented vocalist in metal. It’s tracks like this that make me feel that way. While Crimfall‘s newest album was not as good as its previous one, this song definitely kept me coming back and back.. and back…. and back again. This was everything that I was looking for from this band, melodic, epic and well-constructed, and making you want to do a folk dance. I love, too, that it builds up to a crescendo right at the end. So powerful. Just let it sink in for you as you listen. Folk metal lives! And Crimfall is its name!
#6: “On Stirring Seas of Salted Blood” – The Black Dahlia Murder – Holy shit. The riff on this track is just crushing. I think that this was the song that kind of showed that Ritual really was a different beast than earlier albums and this is the song that I come back to when I want to show people how fucking awesome this record is. The chorus is also awesome with the bass work and Trevor growling the words “On stirring seas of salted blood…” Oh right, and the fucking solo. Seriously, this is just a stellar track. Good on these guys for switching it up and writing some amazing stuff this year.
#5: “Antebellum” – The Human Abstract – I wholly expect Digital Veil to be a one shot, now that the vocalist is already no longer in the band and the guys seem to have gotten their neo-classical bug out of their system. But it’s too bad, because this record produced some of the best material of the year. While the production is really not my style, Travis Richter nails home the vocals in a way that sort of walks the fine line between pop punk vocals and Muse and the melodic structures and melodies are awesome. Combine that with amazing guitar work and some progressive composition and this little epic piece is one of the best songs of the year.
#4: “Fight ’em ’til You Can’t” – Anthrax – OK, rarely do I fall for the single track from an album, but man this one just rocked my socks off. I’m not even a huge fan of Anthrax or a big fan of Worship Music, but this song with its trend-hopping zombie apocalypse theme and still adorably mulleted vocalist just worked its way into my brain like some sort of… zombie song, and stuck there. Eating. My brains. … OK, that analogy sucked, but this song didn’t. Seriously, it was just everything I wanted to hear from these guys and it really worked. So congrats to the boys from Anthrax.
#3: “Klippor och skär” – Vintersorg – So, for the first time in a long, long time Vintersorg reclaimed his ability to write some of the best melodic black metal or.. whatever the fuck this is. Anyway, back in the day we all fell for Vintersorg choruses like “Astral and Arcane” and “Till fjälls” and “Klippor och skär” continues this tradition in fantastic form. While the track may be a tad busy at times (as I complained in the original review), it still inspired me to go and frolic in the forest and has been on constant rotation all year.
#2: “Ego” – Omnium Gatherum – Omnium Gatherum‘s New World Shadows came as a big surprise to both myself and to my colleague Steel Druhm. Neither of us expected the tour de force that was this Finnish melodic death record. But while he was impressed with the title track, the song that I got stuck on immediately was “Ego,” a 4 minute rocker with some of the catchiest melodic guitar I’ve heard in a long time and a fairly straight forward chunkity chunk chunk going on. I never saw the lyrics, but the chorus is like the ultimate pep song for a person on the brink of something (“SO DO IT!”). Add a sweet solo and smart segues and a Eurovision key change in and this is a recipe for success. This song could’ve been #1, but there’s just one that I like just a tiny bit better.
#1: “To the Shoreline” – Pain of Salvation – As I commented upon in the review, this song outshone the rest of the record in its geniusity. That’s right, geniusity. It’s like the unholy combination of Camel and Ennio Morricone. Then, make it about as awesome and catchy as possible and you’ve got “To the Shorline”. The biggest problem with the song is that it is short as hell, but actually that might be part of why it was so good. In any case, I’ve listened to this track about a bajillion times this year and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
Ok, so there were of course more than 10 tracks that deserved to be mentioned here. So I decided that I would mention 5 songs here. Three non-metal songs that I really enjoyed, and a couple of tracks that weren’t quite good enough for the list but that I thought deserved a special mention.
Kyarypamyupamyu – “PONPONPON” – That’s motherfucking right. This song just totally rules and if you don’t like it, well, that’s probably pretty understandable.
The Dear Hunter – “She’s Always Singing (Yellow”) – So this year, these guys put out a huge vinyl box set that they released with a number of EPs in the colors of the rainbow. This track is probably my favorite from the whole collection and has a nice 1960s surf rock vibe to it. I dug, dug, dug it. And still really dig it. The guy who writes this stuff is a seriously talented musical omnivore and I’m always impressed by the stuff he’s doing.
My Brightest Diamond – “Be Brave” – Angry Metal Girlfriend turned me onto this lady and I have to say I’m really impressed. This track is dark and progressive and fascinating. The video is weird and hard to watch, but it’s worth giving a shot if you’re a fan of that kind of stuff.
Falconer – “O tysta ensamhet” – So, this didn’t deserve to be on the list because the band didn’t write it, but man this track really rocks my world. It’s originally a traditional song and there are a ton of different arrangements of it and stuff, but I actually loooove this version of it. It totally kicks you in the junk once the guitars kick in. Great stuff.
Shining – “I nattens timma” – This is exactly the same as the previous Falconer track. It was written by another band in the 1990s, and Shining just did a really great rendition of it. Again, in my time of darkness and horrible burnout, this is a song I was listening to quite a lot.