Viking's Choice: Dead To A Dying World, 'The Hunt Eternal'
We're all gonna die...someday. And if there's mass extinction, what's left of humanity will face nature's wrath, stored in centuries of environmental abuse and neglect. With its second album Litany, Dead to a Dying World plays the soothsayer of the agricultural apocalypse, reaped in a searing and gorgeous vision of crust-punk, doom- and black-metal, with a viola's sorrowful folk melodies stringing it all together.
"The Hunt Eternal" only offers 30 seconds of droning strings before it blows Litany wide open. In the course of 17 minutes, the Dallas seven-piece alternates between blast-beaten violence and majestic ruin. Of the band's two vocalists, Heidi Moore's relentlessly seething scream bears the brunt of some gnarly couplets that depict a desperate world without resources: "In skin of ash and stone / Gaunt shade compelled to roam." And it's with such desperation in mind that the track's first guest vocalist, Brett Campbell, the stately voice behind Pallbearer, gives us a bleak prophecy over funeral-paced riffs:
As days turned we abandoned our gods
Our mouths rotten with the flavor or our own
Gnashed and bled only a searing blade
May halt our grim endeavor
Sabbath Assembly's Jamie Myers-Waits, ever a voice of angelic calm in metallic waters, answers Campbell with something of a prayer. It's delivered in the midst of rolling drums, scraping viola, and urgent guitar picking:
Let these fires rend my heart
Till arrows fear to nest
Pray no blade should cut my flesh
And to the ground come to rest
As Myers-Waits delivers the final line, the band swarms and embraces all at once, recalling some of Swans' most sublime passages on The Seer; meanwhile, Moore and Mike Yeager engage in a vicious call and response that celebrates the spoils of the hunt. Violence shouldn't be this vibrant and vivid, and it's not a function of cheap thrills, it's in line with the stark reality of naturalism, and of imagining a hopeless world.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.