In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
My library of metal music is woefully, wussily meager, more or less covering the basics of not getting your ass kicked in high school (Metallica, Slayer, Pantera, etc.), plus a few modern acts like Neurosis, Isis, or Boris that have managed to genre-bleed their way into my purview. On the other hand, my library of dark, terrifying electronic music is deep and vast—and, even with my limited frame of reference, I’d still hazard a guess that 2013’s Excavation from drone-scraper The Haxan Cloak, a.k.a. Bobby Krlic, was among the most “metal” albums of the year. It was a record haunted by strangled screams, lurching bass wobbles, and digital choruses of the damned—the sound of madness committed to tape. So it makes sense that Krlic would team with experimental, sludge-metal group The Body—no stranger to its own unsettling sound manipulations—which takes Krlic’s atmospheres of quiet, desperately muted delirium, then explodes it outward on the forthcoming I Shall Die Here.
The album’s lead single, “Hail To Thee, Everlasting Pain,” begins with a deeply pitch-shifted voice talking about suicide (three seconds in and it’s already incredibly metal), before Krlic’s electroshock tones strobe into view. The vocals turn into throat-lacerating screams of “I’ll kill you!”—and other, indiscernible threats—that continue throughout. Krlic builds deep pulses that recall the thrum of EEG monitors, before everything detonates into rubble and what sound like whoops of nihilistic joy. This is incredibly damaged, damaging stuff that’s less like listening to a song than a mental meltdown. Yet, I can’t stop listening to it. As a bellwether of where music is headed, it’s the most exciting thing I’ve heard in 2014 so far.