Any catchy tune can get stuck in your head but only great songs haunt. In covering the songs which make up 2010's Big Four (see earlier post), we will encounter many tunes which haunt. 'Wreckers', the opener of Dethonator's self-titled début disc, is a prime example. Songs which haunt are songs which conjure with sound. Separated from any lyrics which may join them in their finished form, they bring to mind distinct images. Listeners visions may differ - when I first heard a music-only version of what was to become 'Wreckers', I titled it 'The Wailing Desert'.
The wailing is rather of unfortunate souls lured to the rocks by the wreckers of the title: devious devils who stand upon clifftops wielding lanterns, luring ships to their doom. Never mind that this probably never happened, cannot be historically verified: the image is too brilliant to discard on such grounds. Lyrically, 'Wreckers' is fantasy in the broad sense; the sense in which Stevenson's 'Treasure Island' is a fantasy, the way in which the pithy horror trips in 1950s Tales From the Crypt comics are 'mere fantasy'.
Haunting songs needn't have particular kinds of lyrics or even even lyrics at all. As such, it naturally follows that a 'haunter', so to speak, could convey profound truth or knit one a sweater of pure fantasy. 'Wreckers' does the latter absolutely beautifully. Know your heavy metal architecture as Dethonator do and it is possible to construct a haunter whose sounds and words resonate together: a few simple chords and a crash of percussion become waves on which the lyrics 'Haun-ting... the-e.. shore' ride through your head; a run of notes feels like rain in your brain; you can see that lantern swinging, its fell yellow glow lighting up the craggy face of its bearer, his grin speaking of horrors visited and horrors to come.
Best you just listen to 'Wreckers' and learn for yourself what a haunter feels like. As was mentioned, they don't have to have lyrics, but if they do, simple and ballsy can works wonders. Behold!
On the sands
The bodies lie
And left to die
On Bodmin Moor
Is left on the shore
Monkeying with the verse structure as I have done above was merely a way to get these simple, effective words to work their magic out of context. The line about Bodmin Moor is particularly perfect. It is so refreshing to find a band who don't fear a cliche, who don't avoid the obvious because it is obvious, who have the balls to decide what they think will work and just do it. It's awesome when it also pays off. We shall see many examples of this as we make our way, track by track, through the Big Four of 2010.
[This is part 1 in an ongoing series which will go through the Big Four of 2010, considering one individual track in each post. We won't be following the tracklistings of the albums in question (that would be tiresome) but eventually all of the tracks concerned will have a post devoted to them - yes, even the ones that aren't really all that]