The Most Anabolic Songs of 2024

Published: July 03, 2024

Knocked Loose released You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To in May and four of the album’s songs have already found their way onto the METAL GYM WORKOUT PLAYLIST on Spotify (which features a Chris Bumstead photo, of course). Others have infiltrated algorithmically-generated gym soundtracks, meaning there are thousands of people out there listening to the band while lifting weights. Millions more are dealing with similar ailments; tossing on whatever music is “heavy” enough to “make them want to lift heavy.” 

That’s largely a net positive. Anything that gets someone into the gym deserves praise. Not Knocked Loose though, at least not here, because they already got the METAL GYM WORKOUT PLAYLIST cosign. They’ll be alright. And, in all honesty, Knocked Loose isn’t what I want to hear at the gym, nor is slam or any other music that appears conventionally geared towards lifting weights. 

This is the best way to put it—I do not talk to others when I’m working out. I don’t want to, nor do I want to breathe or change my music. I don’t want to be anything other than a motor. So, I’m picky with what I listen to and actively avoid listening to some of my favorite musicians in the gym because their artistry isn’t conducive to hypertrophy. I want to be in a world of my own where all I can feel is the knurling in my hands. A world fueled only by adrenaline.

That being said, here are the five songs that have made my pants fit tighter and helped me justify my dependence on stimulants over the past few months. Also, this column has enough entries to form a complete gym playlist. Maybe by next year, Knocked Loose will ask to be on my METAL GYM WORKOUT PLAYLIST.

Tzompantli – “Tetzahuitl”

Beating the Drums of Ancestral Fire

Brian “Itztlakamayeh” Ortiz has been creating performance-enhancing drugs in the shape of music for years with Xibalba, so it’s to be expected that his side project Tzompantli would be just as stimulating. The difference is that Tzompantli leans more into their riffs and crushing tones than Xibalba ever did. While the project misses Xibalba’s hardcore DNA, and lord knows hardcore guys are in shape, it’s a fair trade for everything it supplies in return. 

“Tetzahuitl” begins with an Indigenous war cry. Then, its grooves will make you want to bite through a barbell. Its monochromatic palette works in the track’s favor by allowing the guitar solos to shine. They’re fighting for their lives in the mix. Superseding all this is that “Tetzahuitl” runs less than five minutes but plays like an entire workout, from warm-up (if you do warm-up) to top set, down to the back-off sets and accessory work. 

Stress Angel – “Monsignor’s Wish”

Punished by Nemesis

Long, atmospheric introductions and filler tracks should be outlawed at the gym. They halt the momentum gathered during a workout without accomplishing anything more. If you take upwards of a minute to lay down arpeggios or include a sample from a horror film over synths, you may as well start taking Athletic Greens because, clearly, you don’t care about getting big. Let it be known that some tracks on Stress Angel’s most recent album, Punished by Nemesis, feature those distractions. When the album is being played outside the gym, they strengthen it, though they’re unnecessary in the gym. “Monsignor’s Wish” was thus a godsend because it takes all of two seconds to get to a riff and drum beat that’s conducive to hypertrophy. It’s either heavy-ass thrash metal or early death metal; a liminal space you could live in forever so long as you’re sweating. The drums are so incessant that they force you to crank out another rep. They don’t quit, so why should you? 

Antichrist Siege Machine – “Piled Swine”

Vengeance of Eternal Fire

Selecting one song from Vengeance of Eternal Fire as the most anabolic is an exercise in hair-splitting, considering they all play like the reddish, bodily convulsions of a one-rep max deadlift attempt. It’s a matter of which one gets you in the mindset quickly; will you choose “Only Evil” for its opening drum pummels or the flash grenade that is “Sisera?” You’re picking your own poison, though “Piled Swine” barely edges out its ilk because it boasts everything you need. It’s furiously fast, loud, and distorted, leaving no room for subjectivity in your lift. Either you complete the rep or you don’t. “Piled Swine” also dives headfirst into lunacy after a brief wind-up, giving you just enough time to brace your core. And those last 40 seconds are pure auditory trenbolone. Put them in a syringe and jab them into your asscheek; you’ll feel your delts expand instantly. 

Glassing – “Defacer”

From the Other Side of the Mirror

Speaking with Glassing’s Dustin Coffman revealed how the group, as post-rock as it is black metal, doom metal, and post-hardcore, crafts such instantly satiating and invigorating music. Coffman insists on testing his audience while guitarist Cory Brim just wants to play good fucking riffs. That mechanical tension keeps “Defacer” balanced between being lightning-quick and crushingly methodical. It resides in the indescribable land of all Glassing songs, with as much of one of the aforementioned subgenres as any, using bits and pieces of them like blast beats, screamo vocals, and a beefy low-end as some form of Frankensupplement that burns fat, builds muscle, and provides all essential vitamins and minerals. Except, of course, “Defacer” actually works. Primarily, it’s because the opening riff is akin to jumping headfirst through a wooden table. It’s a force so strong it pulls all surrounding objects into it like a black hole. When you accumulate enough mass, you too will have your own gravitational pull, and “Defacer” will go from aspirational to relatable. 

Necrot – “Superior”

Lifeless Birth

Like all good Necrot songs (i.e., nearly all of them), “Superior” is devoted to the timeless qualities inherent to old-school death metal. Tasteful, slightly grainy production; unrelenting pace and presence, outside-the-box solos, gruff vocal delivery; they’re all on “Superior,” but they’re not what’ll help you put more weight on the bar. Those are Luca Indrio’s lyrics, which tap into class warfare with punk’s subtlety. It’s anything but poetic yet avoids death metal pitfalls of being too gory that it’s far-flung. Indrio isn’t revealing anything previously unknown, but that doesn’t matter; he’s convicted, and it’s infectious. His delivery fosters the sort of character-building and individual responsibility that going to the gym and picking up heavy circles also builds. No one else is going to squat 405 for you, after all. His best line, which has forced many a potentially unsafe rep to lockout, is “They look fake, they look rich, doesn’t look like they give a shit about us,” which is so blunt and loveless that it’s like a high school wrestling coach telling you that the best way not to get tired is to beat the other guy more quickly. It’s strength through strength; turning the cogs that smother us into plates on the side of a barbell and giving us an ounce of autonomy, even if just for a few fleeting minutes during the day. 

 

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