With the throes of winter usually comes a dearth of new releases. So after perusing the innumerable year-end lists, there's no better time to catch up on all of the records you missed, not to mention your back catalog. If you're in a band, it's also a good time to put out something new given that you'll have little to compete for attention against, which is exactly what Misery Index will do on February 19th with the limited edition Live In Munich LP. So for those of you choosing to spend the upcoming weeks in winter hibernation, MI's Jason Netherton was kind enough to put together a playlist that, along with his band's live album, should help you make it to Spring with your sanity intact. As the group's bassist/vocalist explains: The change of season can haunt the mind in peculiar ways. In winter, we are inside more often and for me that means more time around the stereo, combatting the darkness outside by feeding the record needle those essential tunes that set the mood for an overnight flight (supervised by a fine porter or stout—my preferred hibernation brews). That said, certain albums encapsulate winter without question, while some are subtle. Either way, in the dark days that we suffer awaiting the Spring defrost (and the inevitable Maryland Deathfest road trip), I like to crawl through with a mix of slumber and frostbitten emptiness, while going to the back of the rack in order to pull out the bleak tunes that recall those snowbound blizzards from yesteryear…
You can listen along to Jason's picks here and check out some live Misery Index footage from 2011 below.
Dissection's "Frozen" (from 1993's The Somberlain) This song just bleeds winter (much like all of their first two albums), dropping you smack in the middle of a raging blizzard, racing through the forest, being chased by Nazgûl, with the taste of bleeding, chapped lips and insurmountable fear being the last thing you remember…
Gordon Lightfoot's "Circle Of Steel" (from 1974's Sundown) The first album I remember hearing as a kid. My parents played it incessantly. The dark lyrics that describe a forgotten family's poverty and suffering during Xmas really sent a dissonant message to my seven year old brain. Joy to the world? Nope.
Agalloch's "Birch White" (from 2008's The White EP) You could really say this entire EP is winter-ready, as far as the mood it sets, which is very tied to the seasons. You hear samples from The Wicker Man throughout and paganistic atmosphere just drips from this recording, really immersing the listener in Summerisle's springtime "celebration"….you can almost smell Edward Woodward burning.
Basil Poledouris's "Riddle Of Steel/Riders Of Doom" (from 1982's Conan The Barbarian OST) EMPHASIS on 1982! The frozen northern wasteland of Cimmeria in the Hyborian Age just reeks throughout Poledouris's timeless soundtrack. These numbers played over the opening scene, as Thulsa Doom's raiders raced through the boreal forest to commence with slaughtering Conan's village. A "classical" soundtrack, beyond epic and instructs one just how to "crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."
Earth's "Omens And Portents I: The Driver" (from 2008's The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull) This album defines winter hibernation for me. Low lights, Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter in hand, some Vermont sharp white cheddar and (for those lucky enough) a significant other to tell stories to about how you used to fly across backcounty country farm roads with the headlights off, slamming away a case of Natural Light while blasting Obituary's Cause of Death (hey, that is what passed for fun in those days).
Fates Warning's "Prelude To Ruin" (from 1986's Awaken The Guardian) An all-time favorite, one of those "made me want to be metal forever" albums. John Arch in his prime (as well as the band, at least in this early incarnation), the (unacknowledged? Hall of Fame damnit!) lyrical and vocal genius carved out atmosphere and coldness complemented by riffs that were vomited from of the abominable snowman himself.
Amorphis's "Forgotten Sunrise" (from 1994's Tales From The Thousand Lakes) Never underestimate the power of an album's cover and layout to influence the feeling or "vibe" of the subsequent post-purchase listening session (perhaps an experience of a bygone era in the digital age?). Nevertheless, the coldness of this track and this album was like a snowflake-covered slab of rotting Finnish meat to my ears when it dropped. Primitive and Kalevala-riffic, this album crawled out of the primordial swamplands to define "winter" death metal to me to this day…
Black Mountain's "Tyrants" (from 2008's In The Future) I am in the future right now and this fantastic band from British Columbia should be more explosive across the underground consciousness. "Tyrants" is my go-to overnight staple for midwinter nights…by 4:18 you should be throwing another log on the fire and watching the hockey highlights, crushing a bottle of old Rasputin Imperial Stout, wondering why Decibel has yet to do an NHL preview…
Eloy's "Poseidon's Creation" (from 1977's Ocean) Obscure '70s German prog…who doesn't love it? These guys released tons of records in Europe, and were pretty much the German Pink Floyd of sorts back then and this album is thought by some to be the jewel in their Gilmour-worshipping crown. That aside, their catalog spurts up a spritzer full of '70s brilliance, and this is my perfect go-to album for spaced-out late-February 3 AM vinyl jam sessions, snowed in with special friends, soaking up the best German accent this side of Klaus Meine on World Wide Live (can you see zee microphones in zee air?!).
Leonard Cohen's "Waiting For The Miracle" (from 1992's The Future) Many might know this from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, but this track, and the album, were another step into "the future" for Cohen, as his poetry unfolds slowly over somber "end of the world" and end of life reflections...eerie and dreamlike in parts, it's the audio equivalent of that 5:30 AM drift, on the couch, under the blankets, eyes half-shut and consciousness slipping away as you stare into the fireplace…zzzz
*Pre-order your copy of Live In Munich here.
**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:
Ancient VVisdom Holy Grail Rotten Sound Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2) Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2) Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2) Early Graves All That Remains Bison B.C. A Life Once Lost Fight Amp Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander) Vision of Disorder Grave Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2) "Best of" Rush (Part 1) (Part 2) Dawnbringer Ufomammut Shadows Fall Horseback Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2) Torche "Best of" Meshuggah Astra Pallbearer Barren Earth Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)