Bands with multiple songwriters inevitably face creative tensions – after all, an album only contains a limited number of tracks. But the upside is musical freedom: with so many influences swirling around, it’s easier to avoid the pitfalls of predictability.
Genesis has carried this strength throughout its career – from its classic prog tracks led by Peter Gabriel to its sleeker singles with Phil Collins up front. Few bands could pair 23-minute epics (“Supper’s Ready”) with syrupy pop ballads (“In Too Deep”) in a set list, which makes it all cohesive. But Genesis has plenty of underrated qualities, including a flair for heaviness – whether through distorted guitar riffs or heartbreaking vocals.
Below, we look back at 10 times the band kept it black with Genesis’ 10 Heaviest Songs.
ten. “…In This Quiet Land”
No one will raise their horns at this fusion-y instrumental, a post-simmer eruption of “Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers…” But it’s still heavy in two distinct ways. The intense first half is carried by a windswept guitar melody by Steve Hackett, with Collins mercilessly pounding his kit. The second settles in a jerky hard-rock riff, à la “Squonk”, with the dissonant synths of Tony Banks which wind around this frame.
9. “The Music Box”
Yes, a song called “The Musical Box” – one including an electric guitar part that sounds remarkably like a real music box – is heavy enough to make this list. The real rock stuff kicks in around 3:38 when power chords and Hammond organ lay the groundwork for an abrasive Hackett solo. Then there’s the infamous grand finale, in which Gabriel repeatedly and fiercely barks the word “now.”
8.”Back in New York”
Gabriel may be a progfather (progfather?), but he never shunned his punk side – just look at his early solo gigs. He only kept a few Genesis songs in his live arsenal at that time, but “Back in NYC” suited his louder stage aesthetic perfectly, with the singer snarling every line with extra grit. The original version is, of course, much more interesting, with tight ensemble playing that accentuates the muscle of the band. Collins’ drumming lands somewhere between hard rock and jazz-fusion, each massive tom flourishing and riding a cymbal hit worth a rewind.
7. “The return of the giant hogweed”
Gabriel wrote a lot of crazy lyrics, there’s no doubt about that. (Who else in rock history has sung about a crow stealing a man’s castrated penis in a tube?)preparing for an assault, threatening the human raceThe band’s venomous attack is the perfect springboard – every riff seems to be distorted, naturally or artificially, from Banks’ Hammond organ to Hackett’s finger-tapping guitar triplets.
6. “The Waiting Room (Evil Jam)” (live)
You can not do not mention “The Waiting Room”, an instrumental improvisation that emerged from a deliberately scary location. “We just sat there and tried to scare each other!” Banks once noted, detailing the track’s plonky haunted house textures. Even when the mood improves halfway through, a real heaviness lingers – and it’s even more pronounced on the live version of their 1998 box set, Genesis Archives 1967–75with Collins drumming maniacally around the stabbing guitars.
5.”Supper is ready”
This Genesis epic covers a lot of ground in 23 minutes; not everything is particularly heavy. (The piano stretch titled “Willow Farm” might be the funniest, goofiest moment in their catalog.) an instrumental and vocal section that opens with Gabriel intoning “666!” Whenever you refer to the Antichrist, you are sure to make a list of this ilk.
Fearsome creatures of the forest woods, with some desert and mountain beasts would have been an amazing 70s prog album title. Instead, a 1910 folklore book with that name indirectly inspired a classic heavy prog song. The Squonk, according to legend, roams the hemlock forests of Pennsylvania, weeping in shame at its grotesque appearance – and “Squonk” recounts this legend, with a hunter catching the creature in a bag only to realize that its prize dissolved into a “pool of tears.” If that all sounds a bit too fancy, Collins’ swaggering drum pattern and Mike Rutherford’s huge bass pedals balance the whimsy with a bit of bite.
3.”Down and Out”
When Hackett left Genesis in 1977, it was natural to assume that the band would soften a bit. (Anyone who heard “Follow You Follow Me” would probably call it a wise prediction.) But the remaining trio launched their next LP, … And then there were three … , featuring one of their heaviest cuts: “Down and Out,” a gnarly powerhouse that sounds almost defiant. Rutherford’s guitars rip like jigsaws and Collins attacks his snare drum with rare menace.
2. “The Knife” (live)
Armando Gallo, a journalist and photographer who has covered Genesis extensively over the years, was not a fan of the band’s more folksy second album, from the 1970s. Intrusion — and he didn’t convert until he saw the band turn “The Knife” into a live powerhouse. “I was into heavier stuff, probably, King Crimson and so on,” he said in 2006. “But when I saw them [in January 1971]especially when Peter Gabriel… almost jumped into the crowd during ‘The Knife’, I really fell in love with the band. and Hackett matching the intensity of Gabriel’s anti-war lyrics. The 1973 version Live makes the original sound like a demo.
1.”Fly on a windshield”
Originally titled “Pharaohs”, this disturbing piece developed by linking two interludes: a calm and a strong. (They wanted to ward off, as Banks noted on The Lamb Lays Down on Broadway DVD reissue, “the Egyptian army traversing the landscape”.) The opening section is deceptive, its jerky electric strums and choral mellotron creating a kind of wooziness that only resolves at 1:17 with an intense passage at heaviness. Gabriel’s reverberant vocals dissolve into the shadows of Collins’ Bonham-like drumming and Hackett’s violent, spasmodic guitar – a musical payoff Banks described as “probably Genesis’ finest moment”.
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