Nine Circles ov…Transcending Records

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Transcending Records may be a jack-of-all-trades, acting as a record label, online shop, and distribution company out of the Chicago area, but all of that work is focused on one thing: bringing brutal metal to the masses.  And like many noble pursuits, it’s damn hard to make any money at it.  But a massive storm in October put an even larger dent in things, as a flood wiped out a significant portion of the business’s stock.  CDs, cassettes, clothing, even personal items were completely lost.  So they salvaged what they could and put together some cool packages, including a box of 15 CDs and a plethora of stickers for folks willing to help support them.

So for this edition of Nine Circles ov... not only am I asking you to help support Transcending Records in the best way possible: hit their site and check out what’s available (they have some GREAT releases coming soon, including the debut from Transylvania Slut and the latest from Monolith Cult) but I’ve assembled nine sick and twisted blasts of metal that came in the bundle I received as thanks for my support.  let’s dig in…  ___

Asgard – To A Golden Age

The French viking/death metal outfit only released one full-length in 1996, but it’s a grimy, blackened attack on the senses.  Atmospheric keyboards give a foreboding presence to the title track, but make no mistake: the emphasis here is on making sure your head never stops banging and the old school sound and rough production adds just the right amount of “TRVE” to make this a great dive into the field of battle.  (buy the CD here)

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Becoming Akh – Absolute Truth

Brutal one-man technical death metal.  The programmed drums get a little weak and trebly, but the music is razor sharp and imaginative.  The record acts as a sequel to debut EP Abolisher, telling the story of a mad king who uses a dead book to gain immortal power over the world, eventually being the only being left alive.  Folks digging crazed mythological world building might dig the hell out of this.  The CD comes with a bonus disc of instrumental versions of all the tracks.  (buy the CD here)

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Hadean – On Fading

Progressive doom noise jazz?  “Chamber” metal?  I don’t know and I don’t particularly care: Hadean’s second album is a challenging blend of styles that rewards concentrated listening.  Avant-garde seems silly when talking about something that has this much overt metal leanings, but listen to the percussion and found sounds that kick off “New Lows” and tell me what you’d call it. This was one of the highlights of the batch for me. (buy the CD here)

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The Maledict – Dread

DSBM without the BM?  The Maledict hail out of Australia and their brand of gothic, bleak metal has a great sense of structure and powerful songwriting.  Dread sounds like an eternal night of pain and loss, at least until the twisted riff halfway through a track like opener “tenebrae” reminds you of the evil lurking within the dread, waiting to rip your face off.  Seriously, this is filled with killer riffs left and right.  (buy the CD here)

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Monolith Cult – Gospel of Despair

Monolith Cult are carrying the traditional doom torch high, and their second album Gospel of Despair immediately sets the tone with powerful vocals and hooks that pierce your flesh.  Seeing more traditional metal being carried by the likes of Sorcerer, Spirit Adrift and Monolith Cult make my tired bones proud.  This one comes out November 17th, so don’t sleep on it.  (buy the CD here)

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Rotting Obscene – Depths of Decay

This is old school technical death metal done right.  Fast, brutal and catchy as hell, with a robust production that lets you hear every scream of anguish and feel every hit of the hammer.  When Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder takes the time to comment on Bandcamp about how this nails the feel of early Unique Leader like Severed Savior you better take note (brief aside: the new BDM is great).  But just get through the opening track “Audient Void” and you’ll see why it’s great. Transcending Records is set to release this beauty on vinyl November 17th.  (buy the CD here)

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Sleepwalkers – Hollowpath EP

They’re not kidding when they classify the sole release from Texas’s Sleepwalkers “melodic death/doom” – this has an early Katatonia/Daylight Dies feel to it, again with great production highlighting the care taken with establishing a somber mood.  The vocals are deep and clear, and the guitar work rings out in sullen sheets of melancholy.  The title track is a gem of a tune, and the remaining three songs more than equal it.  Great news, the band has not one but two albums coming in the near future.  Don’t sleep on this (sorry) – this is a killer record.  (buy the CD here)

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Soliloquium – Absence

More death doom of the My Dying Bride/early Anathema variety.  Absence actually is a great compilation comprising Soliloquium’s three EPs, and the music channels all the right things, not going so far into the soporific doom it can’t bust out some nuggets of pure death when it has to.  Inexplicably, the EPs are all $7 a pop, so picking this up on CD direct from Transcending Records is one of the smartest moves you can make all year.  (buy the CD here)

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When Blood Falls Down – Veneah EP

More brutal technical death metal, falling in the quality category below Rotting Obscene but above Becoming Akh if we were ranking these things.  Drum sound is always the make or break for these kind of albums and although the sound’s a bit thin the riffle more than makes up for it.  If there’s a parallel I can think of it’s to bands like Origin and later Unique Leader bands.  If I had to point to point to a highlight track check out “Imitator” that fires on all cylinders.  (buy the CD here)

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There’s too much great stuff here and at Transcending Records to pass up, so if you’re in the mood to explore and you also want to do your duty to support the metal community you can do a lot worse than stop by the site and check out the brutality on offer.  Tell them Nine Circles sent you…

-Chris


Everything listed here is available over at Transcending Records, as well as a lot more.  I didn’t even mention the awesome Bloodstrike record…

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