So Decibel assumes at this point you’ve got your dozen roses, the perfect card, maybe some wine. All these have been easily attainable and, really, almost unavoidable for the last four to six weeks.
Valentine’s Day mood music, on the other hand, has remained maddeningly elusive for those inclined towards the extremely extreme.
Without further ado, here is the Decibel staff Valentine’s Day playlist…
Type O Negative — “Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity.”
Sez me: “To each his own, but I’ve been a long time proponent of polyamorous and non-monogamous relationship styles as they seem more realistic and manageable than being inextricably tied down to one person and way of being. However, I understand that one-on-one partnerships are the accepted norm and when a big ol’ romantic softie like the late Pete Steele gets his heart ripped to shreds by the crumbling of a traditional relationship dyad, watch the fuck out! In the manner of a total artist and true gentleman, he poured his grief into song and out came one of the most baldly honest, heartbreak and revenge anthems of all time. ‘I know you’re fucking someone else! (He said he knows!)…'”
Andrew WK — “She Is Beautiful”
This song makes the heart in my boner swell. I’m not a romantic; I don’t want a dozen roses or a box of chocolates. I want a six-pack of good beer, a box of donuts, and this fucking song cranked to 11. If if your love for me doesn’t feel like this, it’s never gonna work out.
Pentagram –“Forever My Queen”
A charismatic-as-fuck song about fated, inescapable love that nonetheless sounds doomed (no pun intended) to flame out faster than Bobby Liebling can eat a Fig Newton.
UFO –“Love to Love”
My formative lady-wooing years were during the NWOBHM, which like pretty much all metal/extreme music, is well-known for sensitive lyrics and romantic sentiments such as “Slide it In,” “Red Light Fever” and “Sucking My Love.” Finding something that wasn’t patently degrading and/or offensive was a chore, never mind a tune that might melt her heart. Thank god for sensitive types like Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott and UFO’s Phil Mogg who weren’t afraid to actually use the word “love” in song that wasn’t about oral sodomy. (Nice one, Rob Halford.) So, here’s a softy from UFO, which has an incredible guitar solo at the end courtesy of Michael Schenker. Put this one on your VD mix tape and prepare to get laid.
My special lady and I recently celebrated our five year anniversary and because of its proximity to Valentine’s Day I’ve managed to avoid celebrating this Hallmark holiday entirely. She’s by no means a metalhead but has been agreeable enough to see Nashville Pussy, Vaporizer, Vektor, Pyrrhon, and others on 2/14 in past years. I would start a Valentine’s playlist with these:
Nashville Pussy “Before the Drugs Wear Off” – Off their newest LP Up the Dosage, this is a charming ditty about infidelity, substance abuse, and the almighty power of fast food as a hangover cure. Blaine Cartwright’s lyrics are sharp as ever and “my wife’s out of town ’cause her daddy just died/So I got a place if ya got a ride” perfectly captures his sneering scumbag brilliance. I love that my lady can laugh at this with me.
Pungent Stench “Splatterday Night Fever” – Maybe a stomach-churningly explicit account of venereal disease doesn’t shout happy V-Day to everyone, but I think Martin Schirenc was acting as a safe sex educator on Been Caught Buttering. This account of the perils of irresponsible lust and the saving grace of masturbation gives hope to those without Valentine’s dates as well.
Li’l Kim straddling a giant rooster is as subtle as this gets. But when the woody has rizzy-risen, there’s no time for foreplay.
Chuck Schuldiner starts off “Flesh and the Power It Holds” with a lyric so simple it sounds like Chuck Berry could have written it: “I told you once/But I will say it again.” He’s an annoyed mom, wagging his finger at her kid for not putting his dishes away. But before we can recover from the unexpected normalcy of that intro, Evil Chuck finishes off the couplet with something way more serious: “When you live the flesh/It’s the beginning of the end.” Now the annoyed mom has started drinking.
You could interpret “Flesh and the Power It Holds” as a meditation on the transience of mortality, or a slogan of the anti-zombie lobby. I’ve always considered the song an admonishment against lust. “Passion is a poison laced with pleasure bitter sweet,” screeches prophet Chuck. “When beauty shows its ugly face, just be prepared.” It’s a zealous warning against letting your dick be your guide. If Chuck weren’t so insistent that Death was an irreligious band, you could imagine the song’s implicit abstinence message as the high point of an evangelical Christian tent revival meeting.
Death metal tends to be visceral. Body-ish. This song is different. Like much of The Sound of Perseverance, the riffing on “Flesh and the Power It Holds” feels dry, aloof, disconnected. Heady, almost disembodied. There’s something really unsexy about the music in this song. And that’s not a bad thing. Death metal does not enshrine sex as a healthy, essential practice. So why should the music of one of death metal’s finest ever bands sound sexy?
Leviathan “I Miss Watching You Die” — Wrest is not generally considered a romantic. This is one of the standout songs from early in his career, because beneath his grim exterior lies a black heart, but a heart nonetheless. This song could be applied to someone you love or someone you hate — many Valentine’s songs won’t be that flexible. Also features one of the most hypnotic DSBM riffs put to tape. Find someone to die by, but keep in mind, Wrest is spoken for.
W.A.S.P. “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)” — This is Lust: The Song. No pretense or sensuality, just raw fucking. Blackie Lawless had two himbos — Randy Piper and Chris Holmes — at his command churning out riffs, cause you can’t overthink this shit. Lawless won’t perform “Animal” anymore because being born again turns you into a complete fucking idiot. Before the Lord neutered him, he did make a sequel called…”Manimal.” You don’t need to listen to it to know it’s not the classic “Animal” is.
Love be damned, you tell yourself. Valentine’s Day means red wine on a white couch and weird sex with a boring stranger while Arizmenda’s guitar leads scream like seagulls buffeting the spongy flesh of Venus’s corpse, washed ashore, bloated, blue-lipped and ensconced in bright red seaweed. In an attempt to escape yourself you enter the body of another. But we are each a dark and endless cave, haunted by echoing whispers, and ever-gaping for more.
Anathema — “Lovelorn Rhapsody”
That after-sex cigarette. The pounding in your chest from this rare smoke; the wobbliness in your knees from the exertion and the exorcism thereafter; the sinking feeling of regret. Or is it a rising? A flood and you just stand there and gulp. Little is said between you and the person with whom you’ve just got it on. You might as well be strangers at a bus stop. In the morning, you avoid using their name because you can’t remember it. You put brandy in your coffee. You tell yourself it’s just another Saturday.
Warning — “Footprints”
Against your better judgment, you get out Watching from a Distance, skip straight to “Footprints.” The opening DUN hits harder than your heart hit the floor all those years ago. Walker’s controlled quaver still brings that old tear to your eye. At 3:25, when he gasps after the line “That many before me have ever known,” you’re hurled back through time. You had begged. You had actually fucking begged. Why? Because you had submitted to love, and your reward was a pain like you’d never felt before. And would never feel again, you vowed that day.
Hat tip to Heather Buckley for the post picture idea.