I always appreciate these quarterly recaps that we do here at Nine Circles. With all the new music flying around week after week, month after month, it’s always good to take a minute to reflect on some of the better work we’ve been exposed to. The last few months have delivered a number of memorable albums from bigger names like Lamb of God and Amorphis, but at the same time a number of more obscure bands have forced their way into the periphery of many. My list has a bit of all that, so let’s take a look.
Please keep in mind that I touched down in Boston about an hour ago after a few days in Las Vegas, so I’m a little out there mentally. Now that I’ve introduced my main excuse for this post, let me refresh your memory on how I do these things. There are three albums (in order) that I picked out that stand out from the rest of the pack. Supplementing this ‘Top Three,’ there are six honorable mentions (in no particular order) to round off the nine best albums I’ve heard from the past quarter. Get it? Good. Let’s roll.
Top Three From Q3
1. Mgła – Exercises in Futility
Absolutely no doubt about this one. The Polish black metallers have released one of the best albums to come out in 2015 across genres. While not pushing the envelope in any real direction, they simply know how to right black metal and do so with absolute perfection from start to finish. If you haven’t heard Exercises in Futility yet, you should be ashamed.
I actually reviewed this one in an earlier episode of “Drinking with Satan” and have continuously gone back to it. It’s some of the darkest black metal I’ve heard in awhile. Deliberate and heavy, it contains all the aggression we appreciate while adding atmosphere through varying vocal styles and tempos. Dynamic yet cohesive, it is impressive throughout.
3. Barshasketh – Ophidian Henosis
Originating in New Zealand and relocating to the United Kingdom, Barshasketh’s third album is defined by it’s introspective atmosphere. Experimenting with an impressive display of differing melodies and speeds, Ophidian Henosis has done a lot of good for black metal in 2015. As a result, it is unquestionably one of the more definitive albums of the year.
Six Honorable Mentions from Q3
“Skraeckoedlan have created an other-worldly environment and politely invited us to join them in absolutely blissful exploration. In both familiarity and uniqueness, their sound is brilliantly communicated and will inevitably leave a lasting impression on anyone that takes the time to study it.”
Majestic Downfall – …When Dead
“Each track highlights a very specific form of suffering — from insanity, to fear, to loss — cleverly forming the depiction of this album. This may make it seem like …When Dead lacks a defined persona, but that ends up working in the album’s favor. It’s a sound that becomes far more complex and personal, making it an addictive listen despite its unquestionable darkness.”
Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud
“From musical style to song structure, it’s everything we’ve ever appreciated about Amorphis with an appropriate amount of experimentation to impressively advance their sound to new heights. And it’s come at just the right time. It’s Amorphis in their purest form, but delivered with more creativity than anything we’ve heard in years.”
Shrine of Insanabilis – Disciples of the Void
“From the power, to the darkened emotions, to the musical creativity, it’s an album that will surely keep an audience intensely focused on the sounds filling the air around them. Furthermore, with so much mystery shrouding the individuals behind the sound, we are left with a definitive curiosity once the final note has drawn to a close.”
“Nightfell transcend any sort of labeling by way of genre. Darkness Evermore is as beautiful as it is evil. It’s a work that reveals influences of black metal, doom and death metal. But it is, in the end, a work that feels apocalyptic. Music created specifically for end times.”
Cruciamentum – Charnel Passages
“Cruciamentum has grown up, matured and come into their own. And what is Cruciamentum? Brilliant, brutal and exciting death metal. Charnel Passages is a must for any metal fan.”
Another quarter down, one quarter to go. And let me assure you, Q4 is going to prove to be something worth waiting for.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”
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