Thursday, January 15, 2009

The greatest werewolves in metal

The Dillinger Escape Plan, "Sunshine the Werewolf" (from Miss Machine)

On his first album with DEP, Greg Puciato screamed his lungs out, fighting every fractured time signature to be as dangerously noisy as possible. Yet his versatility helped the band slide into surprisingly melodic territory, completing a werewolf-like transformation into something a little more "sunshine." If the first part doesn't scare you away, there are some tuneful interludes that accentuate the rest of the song's combativeness (and vice versa.)

High On Fire, "Speedwolf" (from Surrounded by Thieves)

Before signing with Relapse and working with Steve Albini, Matt Pike was the guy from Sleep who had a louder and faster new band. "Speedwolf" marked the moment that High on Fire became Pike's definitive project. Surrounded by Thieves sounds like it was recorded in Cerberus' doghouse, but that's never enough to extinguish the hooks and drum rolls that spill out of songs like this one.

Mastodon, "The Wolf is Loose" (from Blood Mountain)

Mastodon obliterated notions that they'd water down their prog-thrash fury for Warner Bros, kicking off their major label debut with a bloodthirsty hymn to a rampant shapeshifter. Like it's protagonist, the song mutates several times at a frantic pace before returning to its original form. "The Wolf is Loose" also introduced listeners to a theme that Mastodon would expand on further down the album.

Metallica, "Of Wolf and Man" (from "The Black Album")

Metal's greatest lyricist voices a night-prowler who evolves into his surroundings ("We shift/Pulsing with the earth.") Evoking his predatory instincts, James Hetfield becomes increasingly feral in the verses after howling out each call-and-response chorus. "The hair stands on the back of my neck," he intones in the bridge, but it's a few more measures before you realize what really just happened to him.

Ozzy Osbourne, "Bark at the Moon" (from Bark at the Moon)

It's no surprise that Ozzy would relate to the Wolfman. Whether exposing his private life on a TV show, giving cordial, myth-crushing interviews or recording relentlessly sappy ballads throughout his solo career, Ozzy has been trying to convince us of his harmlessness for almost as long as he's been famous. But somehow, ant-snorting, bat-devouring, Alamo-desecrating Ozzy keeps breaking out of John Michael Osbourne...

Queens Of The Stone Age, "Someone's in the Wolf" (from Lullabies to Paralyze)

Josh Homme answered critics who thought his band couldn't be as creepy without Nick Oliveri by plunging into the darkest corners of his already pitch black being. On "Someone's in the Wolf," Homme unearthed the riff that Tony Iommi's been searching for since Mob Rules, applied a hypnotic chorus and invented stoner metal video game music. Easily the Queens' most underrated song.

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