Misadventures in Heavy Metalling

A Metalhead’s Guide to the Academy of Country Music Awards

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Artwork by Matt Smith

Since 1966 the Academy of Country Music has inexplicably been giving awards to musicians and songs that suck. And as anyone with a TV, radio, internet connection, or just general awareness of nation-wide advertising probably realizes, this Sunday marks the 53rd annual anniversary of the atrocity. In a feeble effort to help set the ACM down a path of redemption, here are some extreme Scandinavian metal suggestions that it should consider for its 2018 Song of the Year Award.

“Baklengs Mot Intet”

Helheim, LandawarijaR (Dark Essence)

2017’s rawest statement on the downward trajectory of emotional despair, Helheim’s “Baklengs Mot Intet” (English: “Backwards Towards Nothingness”) is a sonic journey through the vast hopelessness that results when crippling depression derails life and overwhelms the senses. Nothing says it’s all over now with no hope of ever getting back together again like a despondent Norwegian shrieking incoherently about the eternal meaninglessness of life in a language spoken by less than 0.1% of the world’s population.

“The Eagle Flies Alone”

Arch Enemy, Will To Power (Century Media)

A fist-pumping anthem to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Arch Enemy’s epic single takes listeners on an anti-social aural experience through one of country music’s most traditional homefronts: mistrusting the government. Featuring the lightning quick guitarwork of Michael Amott and Jeff Loomis, this one speaks directly to the country soul by maintaining its strict anti-government stance while simultaneously praising individual freedom and the occasional need to take up arms. Plus, Alissa White-Gluz shows off a vocal range that would make Reba blush.

“The Flood”

Wolfheart Tyhjyys (Spinefarm Records)

Perhaps the most deeply personal and introspective entry among the extreme Scandinavian metal nominees for ACM Song of the Year, Wolfheart’s “The Flood” delves into the troubled psychosis and challenges presented by re-entering civilian life after being discharged from the military. The confusion inherent to rebuilding and starting life anew is perfectly conveyed by Tuomas Saukkonen’s intensely easy-listening riffs and fiercely patriotic death growls.

“Serpent of the Ocean”

Firespawn, The Reprobate (Century Media)

The ultimate ode to unbridled horsepower and legendary durability, the subject of this song’s infectious foot-tapping melody puts the hauling power of any Ford or Chevy truck to shame. When the serpent is revved and its torque is tested, not even a Dodge Ram equipped with a top-of-the-line 5.7L hemi v8 can compare, because once its ignition is lit, the serpent externally combusts the entire goddamned planet.

“Storm Son”

Enslaved, E (Nuclear Blast)

Praising the lord never goes out of fashion in country music, so it’s a special twist on an old, familiar theme when the lord in question is actually the lord of the gallows. Odin slid a noose around his neck and hung himself from the world tree for nine whole days to learn the secret of the runes and provide the good ole boys of Enslaved with the inspiration for this twangy meditation on the importance of heathenistic rituals for finding god-fearing fulfillment in the foggy ether between life and death.

“Ulvinde”

Myrkur, Mareidt (Relapse)

No list of nominees for the ACM Song of the Year Award would be complete without at least one entry which stirs that deep, inner longing to get away from it all and live off the land. Myrkur’s “Ulvinde” (English: “She-Wolf”) does just that, and is also perfect for that special moment when the lights go dim and all the rousing dosey doe-ing at the local square dance joint stops as the tempo decreases for the slow song and dance to the grave, which, as Myrkur makes perfectly clear in the song’s refrain, should be in Norway! Norway! Norway! (As though there were ever any doubt).

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