Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kill 'Em All

Please note: this blog post has nothing to do with Metallica's first album. In fact, I've never even heard Metallica's first album. Is it good?

So I really like Game of Thrones, and one of the best things about watching it is trying to guess who will die next. Given the programme's 'anyone can die' reputation, relatively few major characters have been killed off so far (see the full list here), but my dad has read the books and he gleefully assures me that the worst is yet to come.

It's hard to create engaging, three-dimensional characters over the course of a song, and harder still to get your listeners so attached to those characters that they're upset when you kill them off. None of three albums listed below ever emulate Game's ability to make you go 'holy moly, I can't believed they did away with him', and frankly, none of them really endeavour to. You'd need a proper concept album with recurring characters to make that happen, and that's not what these LPs are about.

But just because each song has its own set of characters doesn't mean that the artists are any less excited at the prospect of giving those characters a grisly death. Without further ado, then, here are three albums with a body count that George R. R. Martin would be proud of:

Picaresque by The Decemberists
Colin Meloy and Co. have never shied away from a gruesome tale, and by my count, Picaresque is the most corpse-strewn of all their albums.

Final Body Count? At least five: the suicide lovers in We Both Go Down Together, the mother in The Mariner's Revenge Song, and Eli the Barrow Boy and his lady friend. Then we have the "fifteen celebrity minds" and the "sixteen military wives" who get served to the cannibal kings in Sixteen Military Wives; assuming they all get eaten, that brings our total to 36. It's probably a safe bet that both mariners in the Revenge Song cop it as well, given that we leave them inside a whale (not to mention the fact that one is about to be murdered by the other). That makes 38, and that's ignoring the countless unnamed seamen who were "chewed alive" by that whale.

Too Long In This Condition by Alasdair Roberts & Friends
A collection of traditional folk songs (always good for a grim demise or two) as interpreted by the Scottish singer and his pals. More or less every song features at least one kick of the bucket.

Final Body Count? I counted 14, but that figure doesn't include the people who presumably perish in The Burning of Auchindoun or the crew of the "Spanish galley" that is sunk by the boy from The Golden Vanity.

Murder Ballads by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
An obvious choice. At just under an hour long, this murderous little platter averages out to roughly one death per minute.

Final Body Count? A whopping 65, according to Wikipedia. It isn't clear whether or not that number includes the dog that gets "crucified" in The Curse of Millhaven.

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