The Bro Jackson Jukebox Club: Playlists for people.
Inevitably the ascent from emotional baseline to elation implies an oncoming descent to that same baseline.
I’d like to think of myself as a fairly happy person. With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite gloomy metal and drone tracks to bring you right down to baseline. All of this may not sound heavy in the conventional sense, but each song comes with the weight that seasoned metal listeners seem to appreciate. The further down the metal wormhole I went, the more abstract my definition of heavy seemed to get. Eventually it led to a more nuanced type of extreme, some of which I’ve included in this playlist.
Some of these songs are distorted and apparently heavy while other tracks lie at the intersection of metal and ambient music. What I had first thought were two ends of the spectrum (I had discovered Brian Eno around the same time as Nile), turned out to merge at some strange point. This weird interplay of both extremely visceral music with the sometimes cold rationalism of more technical metal kept me interested in the genre.
Note that not all of these songs are the best representations of the artists, but they seem to point to the right feeling. The playlist is sequentially ordered by increasing obtuseness[ref]I was expecting a red spellcheck line here.[/ref]
Boris – “Farewell”
What is heavier than an album called Pink? Maybe an album called Smile that Boris later released in 2008. “Farewell” is the first song off of the album, Pink. It’s heavy and beautiful, sung in Japanese.[ref]I think.[/ref]
Torche – “Bring Me Home”
The typically pop-leaning stoner rock band made a real sad one on the In Return EP. It’s all of the chunky guitars with feedback that Torche is known for, but none of the fun.
Jesu – “Tired of Me”
Jesu is possibly the saddest and sludgiest album of all time. The final album from Justin Broadrick’s Godflesh sort of suggested that this album was on the way. It’s a masterpiece.
Isis – “Weight”
“Weight” is a strange way to introduce yourself to Isis, but an awesome piece of music nonetheless. It completely sums up the feeling of Oceanic, possibly the best metal album of all time.[ref]Bearded men everywhere agree.[/ref][ref]Forum nerds may argue that the album is “post-metal.”[/ref]
Mare – “Tropics”
In 2004, Mare released their only proper EP before breaking up a couple of years later. It consists of five of the heaviest songs that ever lived. I was fortunate enough to see Mare on one of the few tours they did and left completely in awe by their unusual style of heaviness.
Earth – “Hung From The Moon”
I don’t think anyone would listen to this song and classify it as metal. It does however come from one of the drone legends, Dylan Carlson. Read about Dylan and ponder the album’s art and title, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, as you listen. I also think there are some early Earth demos with Kurt Cobain on vocals somewhere out there.
Jodis – “Awful Feast”
One of the more abstract projects from Isis’ Aaron Turner, Jodis is dark, heavy, and meditative. It sounds like the chant of metal monks.
Ulver – “Blinded By Blood”
“Blinded By Blood” sounds like Pink Floyd Black Metal if that could ever be a genre. It’s holy and unholy at the same time.
Byla – “Closer to the Center”
Colin Marston from Dysrhythmia made this album in 2005. Unlike the chaotic sound of some of his other projects, Byla is bliss from start to finish. With headphones on, this album has allowed me to fall asleep in some absurd situations.
Sunn O))) meets Nurse With Wound – “Dysnystaxis (… A Chance Meeting with Somnus)”
True to its title, this song is the soundtrack to nonsleep (not being awake, but the weird state of half-sleep). Stephen O’Malley is an icon of all things heavy and his blog usually consists of high art that is above my head.