A note on the selection process: After spending a long time embedded in the MySpace era of the local scene, I’ve put a bit of distance between myself and Nashville, both literally and figuratively (Ed. note: Sullivan now lives in Anchorage, Ak., where he works for the Anchorage Daily News. He also sometimes refers to Cream editor D. Patrick Rodgers as "D-Pat"). So when D-Pat asked if I wanted to pick five songs for the series, I interpreted “best” to mean the songs from Nashville bands that I remember and still listen to on a regular basis. Disclaimer: My memory is terrible.
Inferi, “Sentence to Eternal Life”
The album cover is horrible and the production kinda irks me, but holy fuck this song shreds. It sits in that sweet spot between tech-y and melodic death metal. I think I only saw these guys twice, and the lineup was different each time. Metal-Archives says the band is still active, but I remember them putting this album out for free when they were calling it quits. It’s called The End of an Era, and it’s got several other rippers on it.
Asschapel, “Carcass, Bloody Carcass”
Asschapel has an album called Total Worship, which should top the list of Best Nashville Rock Band Name/Album Title Pairings. They mixed tough-guy hardcore, thrash metal and grind, and they probably have better songs than “Carcass, Bloody Carcass” (which is on Fire & Destruction, not Total Worship). I keep coming back to this one because there’s a live version on the third Doomed Nation DVD that rules everything else on that disc.
Loss, “Cut Up, Depressed and Alone”
I’ve lived in Alaska since 2009, and of the two metal bands from Nashville my handful of metal-nerd friends in Anchorage can name, one of them is Loss. As a city, you could do a lot worse, and I never actually heard them until after I moved. Loss deals in big, lumbering funeral doom, and even though the sheer weight of it all is typically the focus in this style, there’s movement and sneaky agility to what Loss does — never fast, but fluid. It’s like when an in-his-prime Shaquille O’Neal used to break dance — no 300-plus pound 7-footer should be able to move like that. Hopefully I’m the first person to compare a band with a song called “Cut Up, Depressed and Alone” to Shaquille O’Neal.
Today Is the Day, “The Man Who Loves To Hurt Himself”
Today Is the Day is the other Nashville band that Anchorage metal nerds can name. That said, Hot Topic-variety metalcore is pretty popular here, so maybe there are bands in the Rocketown and ex-Muse scene that mall metalheads here know about. Thankfully I’m oblivious to most of that stuff. Anyway, here’s a song from Temple of the Morning Star, which isn’t my favorite Today Is the Day album, but it has the first song I think of when I think of that band. Plus it opens with a “Good-Hearted Woman” sample, which is pretty Nashville-y.
Destroy Destroy Destroy, “Hellfire”
One time I was in Edmonton, Canada, wearing a Destroy Destroy Destroy shirt and a kid high-fived me and said they were one of his favorite bands. I told him he really needed to see them live so he could laugh at the big, stupid spectacle: a tiny front-dude in skimpy underwear with spikes and a battle ax, and for a five-piece band, the shirt total rarely exceeded two. I’m assuming that kid never got the chance, but he’ll always have the sweet solo around the 4:10 mark of “Hellfire” courtesy of former Keymaster guitarist Steven Webb. Another disclaimer: I used to play in The Protomen, and onetime Destroy Destroy Destroy/Inferi drummer Eric W. Brown did too for a little while. Conspiracy, I know.