Circle Pit: Albums We Missed, Q1 2017

purgatory

And like that, a quarter of the year has gone…

I swear it feels like the amount of music released increases exponentially year to year. What’s even more surprising is how much of it is actually pretty damn good. Metal had a great showing in 2016 and judging by the first few months it looks like 2017 has the potential to be even bigger. I’m sure it’s obvious, but as much as we want to cover everything in a timely fashion… well, we are but a few humble writers in a veritable ocean of albums, and the waves are only getting bigger. You can see the quandary, no?

NO? WHADDYA MEAN, NO?!

Well, for the sake of our sanity humor me, please. The Nine Circles staff are scaling Mount Purgatory in this new take on a circle pit to bring you a few albums we missed in the hopes you don’t do the same. There’s something here for everyone so tag along as we begin our ascent. Breathe the rarified air, take it all in, it’s worth it.

Trust us.

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How do you like your black metal?  Cirith Gorgor hopes you like it black indeed, because Bi Den Dode Hant (Dutch for “By the Dead Hand” maybe?) is a vicious swirling mass of unreleased tracks from last year’s excellent Visions of Exalted Lucifer. The Dutch black metal merchants have been going strong since their Mystic Legends demo in 1997, but the last two records have really upped the ante on majestic and technical black metal in the vein of bands like Naglfar and modern Gorgoroth. “Proclamation of Destruction” comes full bore out of the gate to level its evil on your soul, while “The Luciferian Principle” has a deceptive rock beginning before drilling a hole into your psyche. You also get the title from the last album, which seems odd since it was also on the last album and doesn’t seem different. Doesn’t matter, more Cirith Gorgor is always welcome, especially when the the leavings from Visions are this good.

-Chris


Bi Den Dode Hant is available now on Hammerheart Records.  For more information on Cirith Gorgor check out their Facebook page.


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It feels like fewer bands in the traditional metal genre are hitting that melodic, doom-laden sweet spot mastered by bands like Candlemass and, more recently, Atlantean Kodex. Lunar Shadow aim to correct that, and their debut LP Far From Light accentuates the galloping riffs, harmonized guitars and clean soaring vocals while keeping the lightness to a minimum. There’s a majesty to tracks like “They That Walk the Night” and “The Hour of Dying”  that invite a raised fist as the rock rises over the roll, so to speak. Epic in both its sincerity and its passion to a style of rock sadly lacking right now, Far From Light shines a solitary torch in the night, beckoning you to follow its winding path.

-Chris


Far From Light is available now on Cruz Del Sur Music.  For more information on Lunar Shadow check out their Facebook page.


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Does anyone know if it’s okay to like post-metal again?  Because to be honest I never stopped digging it. Give me slow, undulating riffs punctuated with guitar lines steeped in delay and reverb, howling emotional vocals and spacious passages any day — just don’t label it “Neur-ISIS” and I’ll be happy. Thera Roya do a great job of putting their own feeling into the music rather than imitating or simulating anyone else, and on tracks like the languorous “Egypts Light” and the more epic “Solitude” there’s a push and pull in the passages that make their debut LP Stone & Skin sound like the work of a band pushing the envelope in their sound rather than following in the footsteps of others. Grab your headphones, lay back and fall…

– Chris  


Stone & Skin is available now on self released on their Bandcamp page.  For more information on Tera Roya check out their Facebook page.


Henry Kane – Den Förstörda Människans Rike

Jonny Pettersson (Ashcloud, Just Before Dawn, Wombbath, etc) goes solo under the alias of Henry Kane to deliver a serving of sonic lycanthropy in the form of Den Förstörda Människans Rike. A murky amalgamation of the morbid grunt of death metal, the filthy and infectious melodies of crust, and bursts of fervent grind aggression, Henry Kane sandblasts faces with a wall of sound summoned with buzzsaw guitars turned up to a level that would make Nigel Tufnel headbang in approval. DFMR is a curb stomp that pulverizes the listener into microns. Consume to whip up a rabid bloodlust.

-Zyklonius


Den Förstörda Människans Rike is available now on Transcending Obscurity. For more information on Henry Kane visit their Facebook page.


Umbra - Aries

Those impressed by the latest releases from Cult of Luna and Julie Christmas and the Moth Gatherer will rejoice upon hearing Umbra’s massive and mesmerizing debut full-length Aries that delivers pulsating post-metal and atmospheric sludge which resonates across cosmic seas.

What separates Umbra from the usual trappings of these genres is the determined forward momentum, often employing an electrifying drive and atypically high tempos that ensure songs remain thrilling and propulsive throughout rather than slowly crescendo towards climax. Case in point: on “Cetus”, the riffs are colossal and bellows monstrous, while guitar leads dance and synth waves expand and envelope to the pummeling cadence of rapid-fire drumming, like dying stars raging against entropy.

-Zyklonius


Aries is available now on Bandcamp. For more information on Umbra visit their Bandcamp page.


In the Company of Serpents - Ain-Soph Aur

If you’ve been following along with Denver, Colorado’s In the Company of Serpents since their inception in 2011 then you already know how ridiculously heavy their brand of doom metal is. On third full length Ain-Soph Aur they’ve completely blown the doors off of their last two full lengths with a head first dive into spaghetti western themes amidst the kind of transcendent doom of stalwarts such as YOB and Neurosis. It’s akin to listening to some of the heaviest and most satisfying passages you’ve ever heard while simultaneously watching A Fistful of Dollars. Honestly any band that can not only successfully capture this vibe but do it as well as this band does sits high atop my list. “Crucible” is a slow build barnburner opening with acoustic guitar and feather stroke drums then finishes off with a roaring display of power. “Nothingness” is an acoustic guitar high noon showdown complete with tumbleweeds and an empty street while closer “Limitless Light” is hands down the heaviest thing the band has done to date. This track… no… this album has catapulted In the Company of Serpents into the stratosphere of doom metal and shows that the genre — when in the right hands — truly has no bounds.

Josh


Ain-Soph Aur is available now on Bandcamp. For more information on In the Company of Serpents visit their Facebook page.


Weeping Sores - Weeping Sores

Put members of Pyrrhon, Seputus, and Hell in the same room to make an album and the outcome could be as varied as your wildest imagination… but there would be little doubt as to whether it would absolutely rule. With that said this DIY project titled Weeping Sores does indeed rule on their, seemingly, out of nowhere debut Weeping Sores. It’s four tracks — three originals and a cover — of syrupy doom alongside thickened death metal riffs and the ever nasty vocals from Doug Moore. But an unexpected surprise here is the inclusion of violin from Gina Hendrika Eygenhuysen… yes you read that right, violin. It may not sound like it works on paper but it does and beautifully so, particularly on “Womb of Sand” where the drawing of the bow plays perfect counterpoint to the twisted and distorted guitar work. And to top it off, the album features some downright disgusting (I mean that in the best of ways) artwork from Caroline Harrison. This debut works extremely well on so many levels: from the heavy yet entrancing music, the fitting artwork and the muddy production, this is definitely one you’ll want to have close by all times. The only downside? It’s over too soon.

-Josh


Weeping Sores is available now on Bandcamp and a digipack version will be available April 10 via Dullest Records. For more information on Weeping Sores visit their Facebook page.


 immolation-atonement

Man, what a treat this one’s been. Since Atonement dropped, not a single week’s gone by where I haven’t felt more like listening to it than tackling an ever-refreshing crop of new releases. Naturally, some songs work a bit better than others –– the sheer beating that is “Destructive Currents” grabs you a bit more easily than, say, the eerie drone of “Fostering the Divide” –– but frankly, even the weakest tracks among these are still terrific. As a whole, it’s a challenging and devastating listen that demands your undivided attention –– and with as long as Bob and Ross have been in the game, that’s something to cherish. For me, Atonement is the album to beat so far this year, and Immolation’s best in at least 15.

-Dan


Atonement is available now on Nuclear Blast. For more information on Immolation visit their official website.


Obituary - Obituary

Speaking of bands that have been around almost 30 years, Obituary can’t help but feel like the opposite side of the coin Immolation’s been flipping. Look, I get it: keeping the creative juices flowing after that long can be a tall order. At the same time, how many dime-a-dozen chugged riffs can we be expected to put up with? How many false song endings do the Tardy brothers need to throw onto an album before they start to get bored of the schtick? (Answer: at least 7) Throw in muddy production that detracts from even the few half-decent moments (“Brave”, “Sentence Day”) and you wind up with an album that feels not only phoned in, but then also communicated entirely with generic “metalhead” emojis. For a band of Obituary’s pedigree, that doesn’t nearly cut it.

-Dan


Obituary is available now on Relapse Records. For more information on Obituary visit their official website.


 Fen - Winter

I’ve been following Fen closely since they released Dustwalker in 2012. It’s not really hard to see why… the fusion of black metal and post-rock they have created and polished over the years is among the best out there. While 2014’s Carrion Skies was a darker, more refined version of the sound Fen created on their earliest albums, the recently released Winter is proof that there is no creative boundary for this British collective. For a band known for lengthy, progressive albums usually covering over an hour of music, Winter takes things a step further. This is an ambitiously expansive album that covers over 75 minutes, broken into six parts. Each track seems to tell it’s own story and cover it’s own musical ground, which is one of the best aspects of this album’s personality. We get a healthy dose of the ambiance we experienced on the highlights from Dustwalker complemented impressively with the heavier, doomier, and sharper black metal influences from Carrion Skies. And it’s all done with a production and sound that continues to progress and improve with each album. There is no limit to what this album covers stylistically, and it does so more fluidly and intellectually than any album before it. While it takes some focus and patience to work through, Winter is Fen’s most impressive work to date… on a number of fronts.

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
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Winter is out now on Code666 Records. For more information on Fen, be sure to check out their official Facebook page.


And that’s all we have. We have nothing less to offer you. For now. We’ll be back with another team effort either in a few weeks or a few months. We don’t exactly know. So until then… Cheers!

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