Welcome back, dear readers, to the last Evcharist of 2016. I don’t know about many of you, but I am glad to be seeing the backside of this year. 2016 has been a hard pill for me to swallow, both in terms of my personal life and in the events of the world abroad. However, it bears to not dwell too long on these things. 2016 brought many good things into my life too: the wonderful friends I made on the internet through #metalbandcampgiftclub, a treasure trove of great music, my attendance at Migration Fest in August (which was hands down the best weekend of my life), and most importantly the ability to have a creative outlet here at Nine Circles. So with that said, let’s kick this year out the door with some gusto. The Metal: Kowloon Walled City’s Grievances. The Booze: Stone Brewing Company’s Xocoveza.
The Metal: Kowloon Walled City’s Grievances
Noise rock and metal have always been strange bedfellows. The line between being too heavy to be accessible and not heavy enough to be considered “cool” leaves many bands lurking on the fringes of a scene, yet no band make this sound come together for me more than the Bay Area’s Kowloon Walled City. Grievances is a perfect example of a “less is more” approach to songwriting. Growling bass and feedback drenched guitars lumber and wail along before giving way to moments of sprawling calm, filled with minimalist guitar work and sparse drum accents. This use of space serves only to make the songs feel more heavy and poignant. Every pause is filled with a weighty tension that eventually resolves itself back into the explosion of noise that keeps the album moving. Although this album came out last year, Grievances has been the soundtrack to most of my 2016; in particular, the opening track “Better Years” is a song I have been using to steel my resolve through hard times. I loved this album last year, but leaning on it so much lately has only made me love it more.
Yeah, we’ve had better years
But bad years look better when they’re gone
The Booze: Stone Brewing Company’s Xocoveza Stout
To pair with a dense and complex album is one of the most multifaceted beers I have ever had. Stone Brewing’s Xocoveza is a coffee stout brewed with the same spices one would find in Mexican hot chocolate. Many breweries that attempt to inject this many opposing flavors into their beverages fall short in the proportions, yet here, somehow Stone manages to bring all these flavors together in perfect harmony. Big dark coffee flavor hits immediately on the tongue, followed by a mild spice from chili peppers, not enough to be uncomfortable, but definitely enough for one to stand up and take notice. These bolder flavors melt away into a rich and soothing finish of cinnamon, chocolate, and vanilla. The thick body only serves to enhance the richness of the flavors. This is a perfect after dinner beer for a chilly night.
That wraps up this column and just about wraps up this year. Hopefully this has reminded you to look back on the things that made you happy this year, even if it was just an evening with a good album and a good drink. What has made this year for me is being able to express my thoughts to you. If you’ve been keeping up with this column or anything else I’ve written: thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Let’s find ways to make 2017 a better place for everyone.
Cheers, and be good to each other,