Dark Juan’s Top Twenty Favourite Songs Ever
By Dark Juan
Salutations, and the holiday that the Christian Church stole from the pagans is nearly upon us. I’m not a fan. I have to deal with people and I don’t like that. Anyway, I can’t do a top ten gigs I attended because of this troublesome plague we have had to deal with. In fact, I don’t think I have even been to ONE FUCKING SHOW this year apart from Ever-Metal’s own Beth Jones’ birthday bash (Sorry Mate, that was last year – Rick) where Lullaby For A Unicorn taught me new and exciting ways to ruin metal via colouring competitions and Mad Spanner showed me just how bouncy humans can be. So, mainly because I am A) bored, and B) unaccountably not dealing with a review writing backlog as is usual, I thought I might share my top twenty favourite songs with you all.
DISCLAIMER: Not all of these songs are heavy metal. I don’t believe in restricting yourself to one single genre of music. So there.
Godflesh – Slateman
My absolute all-time favourite song. Colder than interstellar space and mechanical and alienating, yet still somehow suffused with life and passion, Slateman is where Industrial music reached its apogee. Proving that speed doesn’t equal power, Godflesh flit from drawn out single chords to a middle eight that is just sublime, underpinned with the martial beat from the Alesis HR-16 drum machine Godflesh used. Nearly thirty years after its release, Justin Broadrick’s first two chords instantly transport me to musical heaven and the volume is fucking CRANKED, baby!
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart
Ian Curtis is still much missed by me. A man who encompassed my gaucheness as a teenager and managed to see inside my head as a lyricist – a man to whom love was not joyous, it was to be feared. The lyrics on this song manage to convey mental anguish and sorrow and fear so explicitly it is still raw to this day. The lyric “And there’s a taste in my mouth as desperation takes hold” still speaks to me in my mid-40s, and this is another song where the music is cold, black and obsidian and machinelike, but it still pulses with vitality and life. A perfect, perfect song and an all-time post punk classic.
The Sisters Of Mercy – Some Kind of Stranger
You will all no doubt be quite aware that the Sisters are the best band in the world ever and Andrew Eldritch is my musical god. ‘Some Kind Of Stranger’ is the best love song ever written and has sublime lyrics that run the gamut of wryly amused (“Seen the way that careful lingers, undecided at the door…”) to heartbreakingly intense (“Rationale and rhyme and reason pale beside a single kiss…”) to full on impassioned plea (“Come here I think you’re beautiful, my door is open wide, some kind of angel, come inside…”) This song showed the post punk world just what Goths were capable of (even if Eldritch still denies he’s the Gothfather.)
Carcass – Heartwork
Who would have thought that three vegan Scousers would invent splattercore? Carcass will always be one of my favourite bands, and I love the early splatter stuff, but I have chosen ‘Heartwork’ because it was a supremely technically gifted, complex song which proved that the Scouse boys could do more than just vomit into microphones and have amusing song titles. Jeff Walker never sounded better than on this song and Bill Steer showed us just what a talented guitarist he was. Also the last record Ken Owen played drums on before his brain aneurysm and its simply untouchable melodic tech death…
Combichrist – What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?
This was my gateway into Terror EBM. It proved to me that you didn’t just have to have guitars and play heavy metal to make aggressive, violent music. Combichrist are fucking brutal, slamming Industrial beats and power electronics meeting the full-throated roar of Icon Of Coil and Panzer AG’s Andy LaPlegua – the lyrics are dark as fuck too – this song exhorting “Why don’t you finish yourself, because you don’t really care. Let the screams in your head be the last thing you hear” even though it is a song about being alone in a hive like world of normal people and you are the alternative different one. Heavy metal music made with electronics, and absolutely brilliant.
Cradle Of Filth – The Black Goddess Rises
Say what you like about Cradle Of Filth, when I first heard them, I was totally blown away. Their debut album is still an absolute go to listen in my collection to this day, and even with the ropey production is a landmark avant-garde black metal record, managing to weld absolute power and speed to swirling, romantic gothic passages. Dani Filth’s trademark howl is not as prevalent here as he employed a more standard black metal high pitched growl, but the music is just fucking spectacular and delivered a different experience in a year when metal was in flux, when Megadeth, Soundgarden, Pantera, Mayhem, Machine Head and Korn all delivered classics.
Gunship – Dark All Day
My latest and greatest obsession is synthwave and the two finest exponents of it are Carpenter Brut and Brits Gunship. This song is accompanied by a brilliant anime style video, and don’t let the Miami Vice neon aesthetic and the lush analogue synths fool you, because Gunship goes to some very dark places – the lyrics here, for example: “I am your night girl, rip my heart out. Darkness falling yet another night, come on Lost Boys, let’s stay alive.” Heavy as fuck, man, and an ideal listen when you want to hear something different than guitars and screaming.
Mushroomhead – Bwomp!
Mushroomhead were introduced to me on a cover mount CD from a once popular metal magazine, which had ‘Solitaire: Unravelling’ on it. However, ‘Bwomp!’ was the song that really did it for me as it was a wild mix of nu-metal, industrial, hip-hop and hardcore techno. Couple that with the band’s uniform image and masks and 20-year-old me was hooked. It’s another love affair that has lasted to this day as it was a real toss-up between this and ‘QWERTY’ for my favourite Mushroomhead song. I don’t give a fuck about the spat them and Slipknot had, because they play completely different styles of metal, and for me Mushroomhead were the more considered and musical of the two.
Ghost – Square Hammer
I like vaudeville performances and masks and costumes and mystery and silliness, all of which Ghost bring in spades, along with a shockingly good ear for classic rock and metal influences, seeing as they generally sound like a Satanic melding of Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss and Wishbone Ash with added Papa. Also, their sound is developing through eras – “Opus Eponymous” and “Infesstisumam” sounding like 70’s hard rock, “Meliora” like the early 80’s and “Prequelle” like the anthemic choruses of hair metal in the late 80’s. They are fun, the music is great and they really are the most exciting thing to happen to metal in a decade because it was a break from the identikit screaming of the early 2010’s.
Necrophagist – Stabwound
I have no problem in admitting that I am a complete and total Mohammed Suicmez fanboy. I have rarely seen such a talented guitar player. And Necrophagist’s music kicks seriously arse and ‘Stabwound’ is one of the finest pieces of super technical death metal there has ever been. Speedy, precise and fucking slamming, the intricacies of Suicmez’s guitar work are jaw dropping to behold and the speed at which his instrument is played is breathtaking. Every Necrophagist song I have ever heard has been brilliant but ‘Stabwound’ is my favourite along with ‘Mutilate The Stillborn’.
Blood Ceremony – Goodbye Gemini
Alia O’Brien is a musical goddess and her band weld folk, metal and prog together in a gloriously luminous whole. The ethereal O’Brien utilises the completely non-metal flute to great effect in her songs and also is a dab hand with the Hammond Organ. Add to this a sensibility that references Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple in the guitar work and the lyrical content of the songs and you have a Canadian tour de force of classic metal, reinvented for the 21st Century. Goodbye Gemini is simply splendid, uplifting and still heavy, even though it is beautiful above all else.
Nuclear Assault – Brainwashed
“Radio! An insidious form, helps shape your thoughts, making you conform. Programming music, easy listening, help you achieve that moronic grin…”
For this rebellious teenager, Nuclear Assault smeared Metallica’s pansy arses all over the wall. Fast, violent, anti-establishment and rebellious in the extreme and punk as fuck thanks to the involvement of Dan Lilker on bass guitar, this was politicised music that was raging against the machine before any amusingly coiffed shouty man decided he wasn’t going to do what you told him.
Queensrÿche – Gonna Get Close To You
A band that sadly imploded when egos got in the way of the music, Queensrÿche were one of my favourite bands in my youth, second only to Iron Maiden in the trad metal stakes and Geoff Tate’s voice still gives me goosebumps to this day. However, this strange trad metal/industrial hybrid was always my favourite, being a cover of Canadian artist Dalbello.
I just wish that Geoff would get over himself and rejoin the rest of the band and bring back the classics. I could have chosen anything off Operation: Mindcrime, but I always hated the production on that record. This song is quirky and interesting and absolutely brilliant.
Cromagnon – Caledonia
Absolutely out to lunch psychedelic proto-industrial from the sixties. Among the first records to have distorted guitars and using a demented taped loop of Scottish bagpipes and increasingly unhinged vocals throughout the song, this can be charitably described as a challenging listen. But I absolutely love it simply because it is one of the building blocks for stoner, industrial, electronic music and extreme vocal styles and it is just a cracking tune if you can get past the production, which is “experimental” to say the least. Most definitely an acquired taste.
VNV Nation – Perpetual
VNV were one of the first electronic bands that really spoke to me, and one of the best gigs I ever went to was to watch Straftanz and VNV Nation playing together at Sheffield Corporation. I believe Uberbyte opened for them. This is ultimate quality futurepop from a band who delight in offering a positive, uplifting experience (with the exception of the incendiary Tomorrow Never Comes) of which ‘Perpetual’ is a fine example. The memory of a club full of people all singing “Let there be, let there always be never ending light” back at singer Ronan, grinning and motionless on stage. Wonderful. And it was fucking good fun!
Prong – Whose Fist Is This Anyway?
This song is absolute riff heaven. Tommy Victor is a phenomenal guitarist and this song for me is even better than lead single ‘Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck’. With a serious Killing Joke vibe joining the punk metal fury of Prong’s sound thanks to the involvement of Paul Raven playing bass, Prong absolutely took their music to the next level of brutality. The band literally has everything here – perfect production, a minimalist aesthetic, MASSIVE songs, melody, distended harmonics, precise and choppy riffing and groove for fucking days. This song was and still is Prong’s finest ever work. And a tune that I will never get bored of.
The Berzerker – Reality
One minute and twenty odd seconds of frankly the most incredible goregrind I have ever heard. As an album opener it is one of the most staggering statements of intent I have ever heard. It doesn’t even qualify as music – It’s more a sustained and spectacularly violent assault on your senses, melding distorted 909 kick drums, mind-blowingly fast drumming, utterly savage gabba techno and the fastest and filthiest death metal ever committed to record to create something that is less music and more the aural equivalent of an insane butcher machine gunning a thousand innocent people to death in a big steel tank. Savage, brutal and uncompromising and absolutely original.
Dinosaur Jr – Out There
Now, a grunge record. Bet you never saw that coming! However, J Mascis is a fucking incredible guitar player who can emote on his instrument like very few people I have heard. He makes his guitar sing and cry and weep and this song is just an absolute joy if you like listening to guitar technique. His vocal is an acquired taste though and if you don’t like grunge you’ll fucking hate this song… But I love it and for the purposes of this small article I don’t care what you think!
GWAR – Slaughterama
I am a colossal overgrown child and I still laugh my arse off at this, Black And Huge and Meat Sandwich. Don’t you judge me.
The Damned – Grimly Fiendish
Knowing that I am a sad old goff, this one probably is not much of a surprise, but what might be is that I first heard this on a vinyl 2 record set called “Out Now II” which celebrated the state of the late 80’s pop scene. Somewhat oddly, the state of late 80’s pop included Killing Joke’s ‘Love Like Blood’ and this Gothic little masterpiece – all harpsichord, dry humour and dripping sarcasm delivered in a menacing baritone. I was 11 when I first heard this and this song was the point where I was lost to alternative and extreme music forever. Betcha wish you never bought me that record now, eh, Mum and Dad? Hahahahahaha!
So, there you have it. Twenty of Dark Juan’s favourite songs – by no means all heavy metal, but they all share something in the way of extremity, or the alternative. I hope you all try some of them you might not have heard of – or a genre you haven’t listened to before. Good luck and good hunting.
Yeah, merry fucking Christmas too. Bah humbug.
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.