The extreme metal playlist to complete your perfect Valentine’s Day
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Ah, Valentine’s Day: an overly commercialised “holiday” dedicated to a saint you know nothing about that pressures you to spend too much money on the person you love. For couples all over the globe, February 14th is one of the most significant dates of the entire calendar year, destined to provide 24 hours of relentless romance and pure, unconditional love. And what better catalyst is there for such positive emotions than music? And even though heavy metal may not be the first place that the mind drifts to when it hears the word 'romance', this playlist will prove that even the darkest of tunes can sometimes – just sometimes – put you in a loving kind of mood. Pantera – This Love Opening with an introduction where the guitars are just as clean as the vocals, Pantera’s ‘This Love’ is one of the four singles taken from their 1992 magnum opus, Vulgar Display of Power (1992). But it doesn’t get really heart-fluttering until it breaks down into a groove metal powerhouse bolstered by guttural percussion, rapid-fire riffs and frontman Phil Anselmo’s growls about how the love in a relationship has been built on lies and deceit. By the time Anselmo is bellowing out the visceral refrain of “You keep this love, fist! Love, scar! Love, break!”, it’s impossible not to feel the romantic vibes flying high. Right?... Archspire – Involuntary Doppelgänger Valentine’s Day is a time to keep things slow, relaxed and intimate, and what better way is there to do just that than listen to technical death metal mavens Archspire, whose new ‘Involuntary Doppelgänger’ single only clocks in at a meagre 350 BPM. It may only be one of the fastest songs of all time, but that won’t be enough to stop you from lying back with your beloved and getting lost in sheer, soft bliss. No, what might be enough to stop you from lying back with your beloved and getting lost in sheer, soft bliss is the 350 BPM mixing with fiery guitars, impossibly immense drumming and indiluted, frenetic roars. Truly, a perfect Valentine’s ballad. Strapping Young Lad – Love? Valentine’s Day is a sensual time of the year and, truly, nothing is more sensual than a fully dreadlocked Devin Townsend screaming “Make way for breeding! / Give it to me, give it to me!” at the top of his lungs. This kind of serenading is precisely what the progressive metal icons Strapping Young Lad provide in their biggest hit, ‘Love?’, which explores its titular emotion as a biological process filled with contradictions and conflicts. Polyrhythmic bass and drums, monumental breakdowns, acidic lyrics and an ear-wrenching opening all guarantee a wholly charming experience. Death – Zombie Ritual If Strapping Young Lad isn’t quite sweet and tender enough for you and your significant other, the next step is definitely ‘Zombie Ritual’, a punchy slice of extremity from Death’s debut album Scream Bloody Gore (1987). A choice cut from the first ever death metal record, ‘Zombie Ritual’ is a lullaby about a member of the undead hypnotising and then graphically infecting someone. Singer/guitarist/bassist Chuck Schuldiner drives the track with his unhallowed growls and thrashing strings, the speed of which are driven by the ungodly rhythms of drummer Chris Reifert. Ergo, not only is ‘Zombie Ritual’ a hugely important track in the history of metal, it’s also a romantic one, too! Slipknot – Purity Slipknot singer Corey Taylor described ‘Purity’ best when he stated that “It’s about keeping a woman in a box. And we don’t feed her. And she’s not really happy about that.” A track that was slated to be on Slipknot’s controversial 1999 debut until it had to be removed for legal reasons, ‘Purity’ is a nu metal headbanger inspired by kidnap thriller movies like The Collector (1965) and Boxing Helena (1993). Fuelled by a cavalcade of frantic percussion, ‘Purity’ is a haunting trip into the mind of a disturbed, tortured and captive individual that is just magnificent for setting a loving tone. Behemoth – Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel Let’s not forget that Valentine’s Day is, indeed, a religious celebration: it commemorates the Roman priest St. Valentine, who, in the 3rd century AD, would defy the emperor Claudius and secretly wed couples so that husbands would not have to go to war and be separated from their brides. Ergo, Behemoth’s 2014 black metal opus ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ makes this playlist, as it narrates events of the bible from the perspective of Satan before charting his coming to Earth. Such enticing lyrics as “I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake”, “Look down on Son of God, snuffed in vain!” and “May sin of Gomorrah grace our hearts” are bound to get anybody into a romantic flurry. Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas Valentine’s Day is also an inherently social occasion, and what represents socialising better than those scallywags in Mayhem, who, during their days as a leading light in Norway’s black metal scene, would get together whenever they weren’t making music to burn down churches (allegedly) and murder each either. By the time their debut album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, saw the light of day in 1994, the guitarist on the record was dead and the bassist on it was in prison. And just to up the pleasantly social tones of this entry, the chosen track for this playlist is about a group in the woods that discover the Necronomicon. Cannibal Corpse – Stripped, Raped and Strangled Does exactly what it says on the tin. Slayer – Dead Skin Mask Slayer’s ‘Dead Skin Mask’ is a mid-paced chunk of haunting thrash metal torn straight from their lauded Seasons in the Abyss (1990) album. It is also a live mainstay directly inspired by the notorious murderer and grave robber Ed Gein, who would make furniture, masks and clothing out of female human remains in the 1940s and ‘50s. Musically, ‘Dead Skin Mask’ is a slow, haunting crawler of a song, reliant predominantly upon traded riffs from guitarists Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King. Singer/bassist Tom Araya shifts from harrowing roars to eerily downtrodden spoken-word passages at the drop of the hat, making for a track as unpredictable and schizophrenic as the serial killer it discusses. Dethklok – I Ejaculate Fire What better conclusion can be found for this playlist than with a full-on, sexy ballad? The opening suite of the virtual band Dethklok’s Dethalbum III (2012), ‘I Ejaculate Fire’ is nothing but pure beauty. Melodic guitar leads dance over crushing vocals, with verses far, far more infectious than they have any right to be. Gorgeously powerful shreds connect the song’s gritty verses together, resulting in sheer, primal catharsis throughout this titanic slice of death metal loveliness. Come for the title; stay for the brilliant tune!
Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!
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