On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Venom – Black Metal (1982)
We remain in the UK today, dear reader, and find ourselves heading north from Bath up towards Newcastle. Formed in 1978 Venom would be one of the groups to help revitalise heavy metal and even contributed to a subgenre of this type of music. In 1982 the group had one album behind them but a second record quickly followed in the shape of Black Metal and 1001 Songs have gone with the opening number which happens to also be the title track.
Black Metal taps into what Venom are very much about with references here to Satan though purely as a means of shocking the audience rather than an open declaration of Satanic worship tendencies. Colour me relieved. In the song, Venom depict themselves as Satan’s minions delivering the devil’s music to the unsuspecting masses. Satan’s style of music is, of course, heavy metal and Venom are only too happy to be the harbingers of the devil’s melody. The song evokes a love of pure hard rock while throwing in fiery images of hell to complement the music.
Opening with a scratching sound, Black Metal was designed to mess with audiences’ heads and ears, really pushing the boundaries. The album and song proved so influential that “black metal” is now a subgenre of heavy metal and involves shrieking vocals and thrashing guitar melodies. Venom themselves found major commercial success hard to come by but their influence on the likes of Metallica who would follow soon after is impossible to ignore. The group have remained relatively active, with some sporadic periods of hiatus and lineup changes but the devil will be pleased that Venom continues to share Satan’s heavy metal with the world.
Favourite songs so far:
The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964)
Simon & Garfunkel – The Sounds of Silence (1965)
The Doors – The End (1967)
The Beatles – A Day in the Life (1967)
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)
Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell (1977)
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now (1978)
The Police – Message in a Bottle (1979)
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
Ultravox – Vienna (1980)