Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness -- Firey Songs (with Tongue in Cheek)

I was at work yesterday and someone noted that the song they were listening to--to be quite honest, I can't recall--was appropriate for our discussion relating to work-things being burnt down (which will have to go without explanation, except to say that this was not a plan any of us had in mind, so the secrecy is to protect the sanctity of the workplace, not its employees plan to end it), and so ensued a discussion of songs with the word "burn" in them, as I groped blindly through my memory for songs after suggesting Nine Inch Nails' "Burn," I found myself pretty lost. I noted that it was hard to think of songs with "burn" in the title without my digital music collection (more specifically: the program I use to deal with it). The use of google was immediately noted, but of course the song is ridiculous common and parsing for multiple conjugations of the verb is not easy. We started assembling an increasingly ridiculous set of songs collectively, eventually dabbling into early rock like Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" and Elvis Presley's "Burning Love" (written by Otis Blackwell and Dennis Linde respectively, to get credit where due!), after exhausting our memory of other titles.

The words "Fire" eventually got added, which only made the list that much more ridiculous. However, my original goal was to try to incorporate other songs that were referring to the word in its destructive sense (if you didn't click the link, the NIN song gains its title from the refrain of "I'm going to burn this whole world down!" with intense emphases I can't replicate visually without looking ridiculous and thus failing to actually convey it).

I could continue that idea here and do it the justice I intended, or just play with the whole idea and go with songs I think are really good that use the word in their titles. How's that?

At the Gates - The Burning Darkness
 From whence came the title of this entry, the title track (sort of--the title of this entry is the title of the album, actually) from the Swedish "melodeath" pioneers is actually a pretty short blast at 2:11, but it's a favourite of theirs for me. I always think of Tomas Lindberg asking "With Fear I--What? With Fear

Bad Company - Burnin' Sky
From a relatively maligned album, this is once again a title track. Still my favourite Bad Company track, for good or ill.

Blindside are often most known for their open Christianity, an unusual thing in rock in general (though if one checks liner notes, more quiet forms are more common than you might think), but particularly peculiar in a band that comes out of the hardcore scene. Still, their lyrics don't ever cross the line into laughably obvious and immature words, even as non-native English speakers (yep, more Swedes). But to hear Christian Lindskog's opening throat-tearer, "I thought about fire in the sky I thought about--Fire!" is still pretty damn emotive. Interestingly, it's yet another title track.

Blood Brothers - Burn, Piano Island, Burn
I don't know how I'm managing this. This is yet another title track for its respective album. This isn't intentional: I'm paring down an alphabetical list for the songs that have either a level of aggression I mark as sufficient, or soulfully emotive. It's pretty subjective and ultimately arbitrary, but there we are. Johnny and Jordan are difficult enough for a lot of people to listen to, but their lyrics are even more obscure. Being near stream-of-consciousness doesn't help. But the cries of "Burn, piano island, burn!" are pretty obvious.

Blue Öyster Cult - Burning for You
Yeah, this is a sneak. However, it's because I love that opening lick like few others in the world. I was able to think of this song by the time we'd abandoned the thematic element completely for "songs with 'burn' in the title."

The Clash - London's Burning
Ah, early Clash. So filled with youthful aggression and a desire to break things. Exemplifies the alleged and vaguely mythological punk ethos perfectly. Of course, a look at the music and people making it at the time makes most of the alleged "rules" crumble to dust, but the idea of anarchic political rebellion was crystalline here. This was one of the other songs I was able to recall off the top of my head.

One of the more aggressive tracks on Emperor's second album--my professed favourite, though, if I'm honest, it's a choice heavily based on the brilliant intro track "Alsvartr (The Oath)" and its lead in to "Ye Entrancemperium." I always hear Ihsahn announcing it on Emperial Live Ceremony when I think of the song title, using--as most metal-folk do--his shriek (this is black metal) voice to announce the song and dragging out that "Burrrrrrn!" at the end. "I scatter the ashes of destiny/Still my flames are in hunger/With fire in my heart/Shall I greet the shores ahead/Though/I know not what will burn!" And that final exit to the song after Ihsahn has dropped the clean vocals again: "Even though I nothing learned/With strength I burn!"

Fugazi - Burning
Sits alongside the rather obvious "Waiting Room" as a favourite from Fugazi for me. It just tells you in moments what is and was great about this band. Coming out of the hardcore scene and its frenzy of aggression and speed (heard in Ian McKaye's prior band "Minor Threat"), you are left with the clicking, odd drum beat of Brendan Canty, echoing, delayed squeals from Ian's guitar as Guy Picciotto asks "What is this burning in my eyes?" all the melody carried in repetition by Joe Lally's ever-reliable bassline, accentuated by Ian's muted chords to give it that extra crunch and volume. Seriously, great stuff.

Harvey Milk - Barn Burner
A short, speedy track from the Athens-based band (don't expect REM or Drive-By Truckers, though, now...) from one of their most acclaimed albums (if not the most acclaimed): Life...the Best Game in Town. I am still getting a feel for this band, but this song is right in there as appropriate.

The Haunted - The World Burns
The Haunted were formed from the remains of At the Gates, who ended as a band after the release of the stone cold classic Slaughter of the Soul. Their first (eponymous) album used vocalist Peter Dolving, but, when he left, they took on Marco Aro for the two following albums before Dolving returned. I was never huge on Aro, but the songs that the Jensens and Björlers put underneath him are pretty great, and a handful of songs work with him, including this one.

Immolation - Burn with Jesus
Somehow, I can't imagine it's surprising how much metal is appearing here. Still, this is one of the standout tracks from Here in After, and has the upstate New York boys in fine form with their venom-spitting distaste for religious hypocrisy--especially of the Catholic variety. In a turn from a lot of irreligious metal, their lyrics imply a different sort of stance: "Behind the walls of Christ/the hypocrites recite songs to glorify/their king who's died in vain/they betray the holy son/Extinguishing his light/Their greed and their desire/ Have torn him from his cross." Not exactly the words of philosophical opposition, or Glen Benton's puerile antics.

INXS - Burn for You
So, let's jump to another genre for a moment here. INXS, while I love them and love all their albums and a slightly horrifying number of their b-sides, EPs and other "stray" tracks, should be respected by all as a "singles" band, at the very least.

Effectively the antithesis of the aggression I originally intended, this comes from Mogwai's self-titled EP, also known as simply "EP," and released in three different versions, being EP, EP+2, and EP+6. The latter two added tracks from other EPs they released and noted how many of them. I happen to own EP+6, because getting a hold of physical copies of 4 Satin or No Education=No Future (Fuck the Curfew) was going to be less-than-easy, and I was not to be left without tracks from those two. Still, this is one of the pleasant and curious song from the original "EP" and is to be listened to on its own merits without hesitation.

Parts & Labor - Ghosts Will Burn
One of my favourite tracks from an album I absolutely love. While I'd foolishly failed to notice the included lyrics with the copy I was originally given, I read them feverishly once I got my own retail copy (the CD one, the vinyl came after I pretty well knew all the lyrics) and was pleased to find them, if not some kind of new literary treatise, certainly clever, unexpected and not only not-disappointing, but excitingly good.

While I most often make reference to Mr. Rundgren in association with our shared birthday (just over a week ago, as I write this), I make the reference because of the music he has made. I haven't devoured it quite so thoroughly as some other artists, but a number of his albums are in semi-regular rotation in my listening. Something/Anything? from which this song comes is always welcome, the 1972 double LP long enough to require two CDs as well, which had 3 sides worth of Rundgren. This  may seem obvious, but what I mean is the first three sides were, in their entirety, written, performed and produced by Rundgren. The above song is all him. And it's a pretty damn great song.

Sims - Burn It Down
One of only a handful I can link to a full-fledged music video, this is from Sims' last solo album outside the Doomtree collective. Go deep enough into the comments and you find this:
  • I think it's even kind of cyclical: use this "emulsion" of people *to* burn down this divisive and over-emotional existence together, then use the same "emulsion" to rebuild a world that is less incendiary and polarizing. Pretty clear when he gets to "burn it black, down to the ash, start from the scratch, build it on back..."
    Or at least that's what I hear.
  • bingo.
 Which, for those keeping score, is someone at DTR telling me I'd correctly interpreted all of the song, outside all the other "theories" floating through the comments. That group never ceases to amaze me with their willingness to interact.

Sims/Mike Mictlan - Slow Burn
On a similar note, the shared efforts of Sims with fellow DTR emcee Mike Mictlan create this crowd-favourite that originally appeared on the P.O.S. "Meat Tape" compilation, composed of side projects, covers, non-album tracks and some tracks by his DTR compatriots. It later made an appearance on 2007's 12th False Hopes, credited to the entirety of Doomtree for the first time.

Sparta - Light Burns Clear [No link available]
Trying to find a video of them performing this, I got distracted by a video of them performing "Assemble the Empire" at Big Day Out about ten years ago. Still, this is from their first full length, Wiretap Scars, which I own a promotional copy of by the most legitimate means possible: they sent it to me. I was in their street team in the early days, and that was that. Of course, even at 18, I decided to go out and buy a copy as well, which I did. That participation later made for an interesting moment.

Static-X - Burn to Burn
I have musical tastes to make me ashamed in almost any community! Well, if I agreed with those communities that I had any reason to, at least. Static-X were my "gateway drug" to metal. Frontman Wayne Static has always characterized their music as "evil disco," which isn't really unfair. This is from their second album, Machine, which lost their original guitarist, Koichi Fukuda. It lives up to its name, and has a chorus sung more by bassist Tony Campos than Wayne himself, so that sets it apart just a bit--but, to be honest, I listened to this album so much in high school that I couldn't pretend that any stands jump out at me any more than the others. I know all of them pretty well. This band was, in fact, responsible for my only ever mosh pit scars, even if it was from an attempt to change my mind about being in the pit in the first place.

Static-X with Fear Factory's Burton C. Bell - Burning Inside
Static-X had the honour of being one of the first bands I pursued stray tracks from, and that included this Ministry cover from the soundtrack to The Crow: Salvation. Interestingly, I had a ticket to see Fear Factory once, but they had Decapitated and Suffocation opening for them, and I didn't know any Fear Factory tracks, so I left after seeing the two bands I'd come in for.

Steel Train - S.O.G. Burning in Hell 
For reasons utterly unknown to me, the label rejected this album when Steel Train brought it to them. They proceeded to self-release it, and thank goodness they did. This album is pretty great. Again, no songs stand out simply because they all do. You can actually hear Maeby Fünke sing it, too.

Talking Heads - Burning Down the House
Obvious? Sure. Who cares? It was one of the other songs I could bring to mind readily. I had just watched Stop Making Sense, though, so that did help.

One of my favourite tracks from one of XTC's most beloved albums, Black Sea. Of course, I've been absolutely obvious about my love for XTC in general. Still, Andy pulls out one of my favourite things here, cramming way more syllables into a line than a person would immediately think belong there. And then a super catchy chorus over a bouncy beat and striking chords. What's to dislike?
No, no. Don't tell me. I'd have to murder you for trying to ruin this song.

I haven't spoken much on one of my favourite singer/songwriters in all the world, but let's just let it be known: I love Zevon. A lot. I have all of his albums on vinyl from Warren Zevon through Sentimental Hygiene, and literally all of them on CD, going back to Wanted Dead or Alive (released in '69 and preferred to be ignored by many, though not me) and forward to The Wind. This is the opener from his 2000 album Life'll Kill Ya, the first he recorded after definitively getting news about his higher elevation breathing troubles--cancer. Of course, he characterized this in another song on that album: "My Shit's Fucked Up," which, as written, has one of the most amusing doctor-patient exchanges around.

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