I never need much reason to spin "The Usurper" by Celtic Frost, a throttling track from 1985's To Mega Therion that storms the fortress gates. But when Tom G. Warrior recently blasted Metallica's Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo for a live cover, there was no question about what would begin the Viking's Choice playlist this week.
"They butchered it, and it was humiliating," he told Rolling Stone. "Why don't they leave their millionaire fingers off it? They've long lost the ability to play true metal in my opinion. Maybe I should go onstage and do a really miserable version of [Metallica's] 'Hit the Lights' with, like, 200 mistakes to set the balance."
Folks, the cover is bad. But Viking's Choice, my friends, is not. This week's entirely new playlist features audio conquests from JPEGMAFIA's busted-yet-smooth vaporwave-adjacent rap "Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot," Car Bomb's liquid T-1000 metal and an organically glitchy groove from William Parker's long-running jazz quartet In Order to Survive. There's also a '70s throwback to The Farm Band, inspired by the Gravy podcast's excellent episode about the middle Tennessee hippie commune and its in-house (!) psych-rock group.
With the usurper's tears guiding my sword, to paraphrase Celtic Frost, I've crossed the deserts to find new jams on Bandamp. Ugh! (Note: Some of these tracks can only be found on Bandcamp.)
Itasca, "Bess's Dance"
Kayla Cohen's got a voice that glows like the sun at dusk, and plays acoustic guitar with a nimble yet intricate touch. When the strings come in, a faint mirage swelling with rolling piano, and she sings, "The background changed from soft-hued to red / and I had to walk in," I felt that.
Werner Durand with Amelia Cuni and Victor Meertens, "Caressing the Air"
Do you ever stick your hand out of a car driving down the highway and let the air guide you? Werner Durand's majestic drones — featuring Dhrupad singer Amelia Cuni, hammered guitar, homemade wind and reed instruments — capture an undulating wonder with enveloping somnolence.
Das Drip, "Caught Nobody"
Das Drip sprints with hypersonic hardcore-punk so frenetic, so wild that the Raleigh band is in a crazed and constant state of entropy.
Lightning Bolt, "Air Conditioning"
Has Lightning Bolt really been around for 25 years? The noise-rock duo still sounds louder than a monster truck strapped with explosives.
Sheer Mag, "The Killer"
I've said it before and I'll say it again: the best rock and roll being made in America right now is by a bunch of Philly punks. Sheer Mag can take a tried-and-true riff and light up the sky.
Regional Justice Center, "Dismantled"
In just 57 seconds, Ian Shelton's powerviolence project rams screeching feedback, alternates arm-swinging and knuckle-dragging riffs, and sneaks in a bit of rock swagger. Harrowing and bruising and over before the pit even catches a breath.