Enslaved’s Below the Lights and Primordial’s The Gathering Wilderness are two of the absolute finest metal albums of this decade we’ve just watched fade into steam as our future-bound train pulls out of the station (shades of Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler…). Very different albums, of course, but one striking similarity is the way that each album’s opening song sets the perfect tone for the remainder of the album.
Beyond that, the opening couplets of each song actually put me in a similar head-space:
“I close my eyes / As fire swept clean the earth.”
“One day, I stood / With my back to the wind / And the rain fell down.”
The sole, perhaps somewhat Nietzschean individual witnessing some great naturalistic cataclysm, right? Anyway, all of this mystic bullshit is beside the point. All I’m really trying to get at is, these songs are, on their face, almost entirely dissimilar. Both spring from the loins of bands with black metal roots, but which, by this point in each band’s career, have been largely shaken off in favor of finer genre accoutrements. So, answer me this question: Which song is the better opening track? Keep in mind, of course, that this is an entirely separate question from which song is better.
Enslaved, “As Fire Swept Clean The Earth” (2003):
Primordial, “The Golden Spiral” (2005)
The danger of these songs is that they may just force one to spend a few hours listening to the entire albums for which they serve as midwives. Still: Which is the better album opener? What’s your favorite album opener?