Where were you when you first unlocked an unlisted track after a long period of dubious silence as a record played possum? Or when you noticed an album creeping up to track 69, where Tool’s “Disgustipated” lurked at the edge of Undertow? If you were born after ’95, maybe never. Sure, hidden tracks have been tucked away on double-grooved vinyl, and cassettes held unlisted songs as welcome surprises. But the rise of the compact disc allowed artists to tuck tracks into digital shadows, resulting in a covert music boom. Truth be told, an overwhelming majority of unlisted songs are flat-out garbage. Here are some hidden tracks excavated by the Decibel team that pass our smell test.
DEATH: There are a couple covers on this list, but none better than Chuck Schuldiner showing off his pipes while chasing Rob Halford’s voice like a heat-seeking missile on “Painkiller.” On The Sound of Perseverance, this unlisted Judas Priest cover closes out Death’s final studio album. The performances actually welcome sacrilege, begging closer examination when deciding which version’s superior.
GODFLESH: A minute after the completion of “Jesu” – which would appropriately be the name of Justin Broadrick’s next project – this gentle giant emerges from Hymns’ silence. Leading with clean guitar and an uncharacteristic soft croon, it was a disarming glimpse into Broadrick’s next chapter. This track was Godflesh’s wave farewell as they bid fans adieu for over a decade.
DYSTOPIA: You might have to drive through dilapidated cities and nuclear wastelands, but there’s a musical path between Rudimentary Peni’s anarcho-punk and Dystopia, the crusties who crafted the awesomely abrasive sludgehammer Human = Garbage. On Aftermath they take RP’s original song, dye it black with Nick Blinko’s illustration ink, then drag the bass through gutter muck. All in a single unlisted minute.
CLUTCH: The Elephant Riders actually had three different versions available in US stores, each with a different hidden track. While “David Rose” and “Gifted & Talented” both embody the album’s stoned groove and heavy funk, the head-bobbing push ‘n’ pull of “05” mixes in psychedelic grandeur for an inspired denouement.
AxCx: Lurking in the pregap before Morbid Florist’s first track, this inebriated demolishment of The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You” was Intended for a tribute album. The impish grinders numbingly pound drums and blast out unhinged distortion while Putnam’s disinterested mutters creep into screams and belches. It’s classic trolling from Anal Cunt that would make Jim Morrison turn in his bathtub.
MUNICIPAL WASTE: As Waste ‘Em All finishes, these party thrashers toss in a triumphant and unquestionably self-aware throwback anthem about the tr00est pursuit possible: Flying a kite with the intention of gliding that stringed fucker into the galaxies beyond. Their sense of jubilation and celebration of all things loud ‘n’ heavy makes this a single minute hit ‘n’ quit it necessity.
NIRVANA: Sure, Nevermind felt like a muzzled animal. But press play on this sonuvabitch and picture it shrieking from your speakers after ten minutes of silence. Krist Novoselic’s bass prowls behind unsettling stabs of guitar while Cobain displays absolute disdain for the notion of melodic pursuits. It’s a noisy return to Bleach’s wildest whims that rewards inquisitive die-hards.
EXODUS: Lunging at the chance for a little winking levity, Cali thrashers Exodus decided to pull on some blood-spattered denim overalls. “Bonded by Banjo” (also referred to as “Banjoed by Blood”) blindsided listeners at the end of The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A. No stranger to smirk-inducing covers – they covered “Low Rider” on Fabulous Disaster – this backwoods reimagining of their thrash anthem might be best enjoyed while smoking bluegrass.
Other extremely extreme bands have tucked surprises away on their albums with varying degrees of quality. To start, you can explore records by Behemoth, Black Sabbath, Blood Duster, Macabre, and Soilent Green. What songs have you dug up on your journeys?