The Holy Triumvirate; or, How I Learned to Love the Self-T(r)itle
Try to keep up. This is trifling nonsense.
A triple double (no assist?). A hat-trick. Triple Play 97, the greatest baseball video game ever made. The Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The third Friday the 13th movie that had 3D effects like popping eyeballs and quivering arrows. LPs spinning at 33 1/3 RPMs. Richard III, King of England and Lord of Ireland, as well as William Shakespeare’s Richard III. Larry Legend; Kareem; The Answer; D Wade; Jordan’s multiple three-peats. Three-piece suits. Triptychs. Triads. Threesomes. Triangles. Tribunals. Trilogies. Trios. Triplets. Triominos. We love the number three, even if the third is neither worst nor best but the one with the hairy chest.
We, however, never talk about another crucial triplicity: the rarified Band Name “Song Name” Album Name triunity. It’s a magical and mystical trifecta, at once ostensibly thoughtless and stirringly profound in its trinitarianism.
Thus, we must talk about at least some—thirteen to be precise—of these nominal ternaries. And not only talk about them but inspect their qualities, their dedication to the form, their sheer tripartite audacity. If we’re lucky, through it all, we will find the Three of Cups: the truest and most triangulated Self-T(r)itling of triumvirates.
13. Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath” from Black Sabbath (1970)
Predictable, I know, but we have to start here, if only because Sabbath riffs are banned from Riff ov the Week. This song, with its “figure in black” and “big black shape with eyes of fire” is to metal what the Three Witches are to Macbeth: the beginning. Ozzy’s terrified pleading, Iommi’s trembling riffs, Butler’s gurgling bass, and Ward’s earth-shattering drumming conjure out of nothingness everything to which we here at the Toilet ov Hell dedicate our lives. Tragically, they never actually say, “Black Sabbath.”
Is it the end, my friend? Not even close!
12. UGK – “Underground Kingz” from Underground Kingz (2007)
If your skinny fists and antennae are being lifted to the sky in protest, I understand. Something is rotten in the state of Port Arthur. UGK certainly stands for “Underground Kingz,” but it also doesn’t. But, really, it does, even if no one would ever in a million years call the duo anything other than UGK. So does this count? Maybe. Bun B and Pimp C (R.I.P) certainly say “Underground Kingz” (really, Kangz) a bunch in this song that is the album’s titular track, but I’m worried we can’t say it’s truly trigonous.
Valuable points, though, needs be added when one considers that UGK waited five albums to self-title one. Daring. Bold. Unprecedented. Can you imagine if it had been their third album? Goodness. Incidentally, their third album, Ridin’ Dirty, is arguably the greatest hip-hop album to ever come out of Texas. THREE! THREE! THREE!
11. Electric Wizard – “Electric Wizard” from Electric Wizard (1994)
Somehow, Sleep never released a song called “Sleep” on an album named Sleep, so this Sleep-inspired jam from Electric Wizard is the closest we get. The biggest issue here? Jus Oborn sings and whispers “wizard” over and over (and over) yet never sings nor whispers “electric wizard.” Sure, “electric” is implied, but we can’t really know what kind of wizard we’ve got on our hands here, and that matters. Minor quibbles aside, this track will lead you to the selfselfself-titledtitledtitled-filled lands.
10. Turning Point – “Turning Point” from Turning Point (1988/1989)
Revelation Records is re-releasing piece by piece Turning Point’s legendary catalogue, and I, for one, am dangerously stoked about such dankness. Up first is the Turning Point demo from 1988 that features the classic blast “Turning Point.” Please feel to order me the light blue long-sleeve. Size M, thanks!
Turning Point’s “Turning Point” has everything you want in a 90-second Self-T(r)itled rager: the name/title/title gets repeated repeatedly so you will never forget who or what you’re currently moshing to. This, you daft punk, is Turning Point.
But not that Turning Point. Fuck Turning Point USA.
9. Deicide – “Deicide” from Deicide (1990)
This is the blueprint for every Deicide song to ever exist. “Deicide” invokes the three days of Christ’s Resurrection before Glen Benton announces, “I’m the Deicide…”—an announcement he has continued announcing for three decades. It should not be overlooked, of course, that Christ was 33 when he died for our sins, and on “Sacrificial Suicide,” Benton, then 23, said he would kill himself on his own 33rd birthday. Now that Benton is 53, are we ready to forgive Glen, just as Jesus would, for breaking such a promise?
8. Negative Approach – “Negative Approach” from the Negative Approach 7” (1982)
I’ve time-stamped the video at 8:10 mark since the video leaves “Negative Approach” un-stamped, but Negative Approach’s “Negative Approach” from Negative Approach is there, entirely approachable in all its negativity. While “Ready to Fight” is the most famous song from both Negative Approach and Negative Approach, the titular closer is just as timeless. John Brannon’s snarl is maybe never angrier than when he’s frothing, “’Cause you’re not ready for a NEGATIVE APPROACH NEGATIVE APPROACH NEGATIVE APPROACH NEGATIVE APPROACH.” As someone who delights in anti-relationality and negativity politics, I can tell you, John, nobody ever is.
Let’s get cheeky: Negative Approach took Minor Threat’s “Minor Threat” and made it a major threat.
Plus, that first Minor Threat record is called Filler, so “Minor Threat” doesn’t even count!
7. Run the Jewels – “Run the Jewels” from Run the Jewels (2013)
Before Run the Jewels became every white person’s favourite rap group since Outkast. Before Run the Jewels released three(!) subsequent albums that have failed to capture the power, hype, intensity, fun, and singularity of Run the Jewels. Before Killer Mike failed to publicly endorse or campaign for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams presumably because of her extremely sensible gun control platform. Before all that, “Run the Jewels” announced to everyone that both Run the Jewels and Run the Jewels had arrived.
For our purposes, it’s important that “Run the jewels… jewels… jewels… jewels…” is the hook of the track, but it’s even more important that Killer Mike makes “Run the Jewels” a meta reference in the song: “So when we say, ‘Run the jewels,’ / Just run ‘em, baby, / please, don’t delay me.” Rather than just saying “Run the jewels,” this is Killer Mike saying Run the Jewels will inevitably say “Run the jewels” to you. Wonderful.
For all that I’ve moaned about Run the Jewels post-Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels” remains as unique and thrilling as it did in 2013. El Producto style.
6. Metal Church – “Metal Church” from Metal Church (1984)
I need to be honest with everyone. I did not know until last year that Metal Church was awesome. I thought they were just one of those ’80s metal bands you found stuffing the used section at the local record shop for entirely obvious reasons.
I was wrong. Metal Church is awesome, Metal Church is awesome, and “Metal Church” is really awesome.
Metal Church’s “Metal Church” from Metal Church has everything you want out of a Self-T(r)itled track: the riffing is tastefully in-your-face, the soloing is facefully in-your-taste, the falsetto vocals are ear-bursting, and we get to hear the words “Metal Church” a whole bunch of times. Then, in a moment of picture-perfect Self-T(r)itling, Metal Church’s “Metal Church” culminates in an orgiastic belting out of “The Metalllllllllllllll Churrrrrrrrrrrrch.” Almost enough to merit a Top 5 ranking. Almost.
5. Pennywise – “Pennywise” from Pennywise (1991)
When I emailed out my Self Self Self Titled Titled Titled playlist to some of my BFFs, one of them responded with three texts: (1) “I dig your mix you sent.” (2) “Iron Maiden is not that cool.” (3) “But pennywise sure is.” So if you’re wondering why “Pennywise” by Pennywise from Pennywise is on this list and Iron Maiden’s “Iron Maiden” from Iron Maiden is not, that’s exactly why. Sorry not sorry, Bruce.
“Pennywise” is a strong Self-T(r)itling. It makes very clear, if you were unsure, that the Pennywise in question is Pennywise the Clown, as Pennywise narrates on “Pennywise” the murderous mayhem of Stephen King’s most infamous of villains. Yet, cleverly, the very line “Pennywise is here” serves both as a reference point to Pennywise of It as well as an introduction to the band itself. Well done, bro hymns!
4. Gorilla Biscuits – “Gorilla Biscuits” from the Gorilla Biscuits demo tape (1987)
Do I have to spell out for you what’s going on here? Civ certainly thought so back in 1987 when the Greatest Hardcore Band of All Time self-released their demo tape. Can you even call yourself a hardcore kid if you haven’t desperately tried—and failed—to spit out, “G-O-R-I-DOUBLE L-A BISCUITS!” along with the band on “Gorilla Biscuits”? I’ve been trying to enunciate that line flawlessly since middle school, and I still can’t get it quite right.
Though not originally on Gorilla Biscuits’ debut 1988 7” Gorilla Biscuits, “Gorilla Biscuits” would later appear as a bonus track on subsequent re-pressings of Gorilla Biscuits beginning in the ‘90s. (It also ends up as a bonus track on some re-pressings of Start Today, but that doesn’t matter right now.) “Gorilla Biscuits are in your fuckin’ head,” the Gorilla Biscuits insist repeatedly throughout the track, a classic and respected use of the Self-T(r)itled trope. That they literally spell it out for you is what makes “Gorilla Biscuits” such a sterling example of the Self-T(r)itle.
3. Angel Witch – “Angel Witch” from Angel Witch (1980)
Here we have “Angel Witch” by Angel Witch as found on their debut LP Angel Witch, not to be confused with Angel Witch’s “Angel Witch” from the 1980 7” Angel Witch. Perhaps the most unique entry in this list, the angel witch in question isn’t Angel Witch the band but rather some other angel witch. “In Angel Witch,” Angel Witch sings, “You’re an angel witch” thirty-two times, making very clear that someone out there is, in fact, an angel witch. Interestingly, the angel witch in question isn’t the angel witch, but rather an angel witch, a mere example of an angel witch.
Imagine: you’re enough of an angel witch to have Angel Witch remind you on the song “Angel Witch” thirty-two times that you are, in fact, an angel witch, yet you’re not enough of an angel witch to be the angel witch. It’s not even clear if you’re the angel witch that inspired the LP Angel Witch, the 7” Angel Witch, either version of the song “Angel Witch,” or the band name Angel Witch. You’re just a regular ol’ angel witch. Unbelievable.
2. S.L.A.B. – “Slow Loud and Bangin’ (SLAB-ed)” from Slow Loud and Bangin, Vol. 4 (2004)
I know UGK’s “Underground Kingz” got docked points for not adhering strictly to the principles of the Self-T(r)itle, but S.L.A.B. is different. How different, you ask? First, S.L.A.B. as the group’s name is not as ubiquitous as UGK’s, so it requires them to explain it to you and remind you. Second, a slab and S.L.A.B. are homophonous and clearly related but also not identical: one is tricked out car and one is a loose collection of Houston rappers. So, again, the definition is requisite. (There’s no other thing that is a UGK.) Third, you can’t UGK a song, but you can, in fact, SLAB a song. To SLAB a song is similar to Screwing and Chopping a song, but it involves S.L.A.B. Hell, S.L.A.B. will screw a song—just check The Anthem, where a song that is also titled “Slow Loud and Bangin” gets the Screw treatment but not the SLAB treatment.
Here, though, we have the SLAB-ed version of S.L.A.B’s “Slow Loud and Bangin’” from Slow Loud and Bangin. That’s so much SLAB, S.L.A.B., and Slow Loud and Bangin’ that I’m fairly sure that you slide into an alternate timeline when you even begin to consider such mind-slabbing multidimensionality. This isn’t just Slow Loud and Bangin’ introducing themselves; this is S.L.A.B. SLAB-in’ slowly, loudly, and bangingly down your city block in a candy painted slab.
Forget trying to follow. Just fill up your cup with barre and lean into it.
1. Righteous Jams – “Righteous Jams” from Righteous Jams (2003)
Here’s a list of things Righteous Jams will do or are already in the process of doing in the song “Righteous Jams” from Righteous Jams:
“Will make you move.”
“Have something to prove.”
“Will choose to fight.”
“Are in your face.”
“Are gonna rage.”
“Are bustin’ out.”
Be used as an aegis against the temptations of booze and dope.
“Don’t need that shit.”
“Are gonna bust.” (Again.)
“Righteous Jams” from Righteous Jams’s Righteous Jams is the purest form of Self-T(r)itling that exists. Dexterous and multi-faceted, these Righteous Jams are capable of so much more than just being jams that are pretty righteous.
But it doesn’t end there. On “Invasion,” the very next track on Righteous Jams, Righteous Jams tell us, “Invasion used to be this band, but now we’re playin’ Righteous Jams… now we’re playin’ Righteous Jams.” Yes, that’s right. If you didn’t get it the first time, you fucking idiot, this is Righteous Jams, they play righteous jams, and they’re a band that names their songs after their current band name and former band name in order to make you fully appreciate just how fucking righteous their jams are.
This is unprecedented levels of Self-T(r)itling. This is it. This is the Holy Grail of the Holy Triumvirate. Righteous Jams’s “Righteous Jams” from Righteous Jams is the Three of Cups upright and reversed. Lockin Out is, as we always already knew thanks to Crunch Time, the illest.
As your reward, here’s faux-hawked me in high school wearing a Righteous Jams shirt.