Nine Circles ov…Some EOY Considerations (You May Have Forgotten About*)

Nine Circles ov end of year header

I get it – we’re all under the crunch here at Nine Circles getting our 2017 lists in order, and the last thing you need is to look at another list of albums you might want to consider before signing off on your own EOY list.  And hey – I’ll be the first to admit that in the interest of full disclosure I don’t think any of these are actually going to make my list…

But that doesn’t mean they don’t warrant some consideration.  So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… please think of this as some of my alternates – maybe they didn’t quite resonate enough with me to make my list, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them off yours!  ___

Abrams – Morning:  Abrams caters to that heavy/sweet stoner grunge spot occupied by bands like Baroness and Mastodon, but their third release, coming at the midpoint of the year stands out thanks to a level of aggression not seen by either of the previously mentioned bands in a while as well as a heaping dose of melody that works to strengthen the songs instead of overdosing them in saccharine.  To get a sense of what I mean, jump from opening track “Worlds Away” to “Rivers” for a taste of the variety on display.

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Bloody Hammers – The Horrific Case of Bloody Hammers:  A lot of bands jumped on the boogie-hard rock goth wagon this year, but few did it with the menace Bloody Hammers did on this concise EP.  No one can replace the brilliance of Type O Negative, but the organ on “Gates of Hell” and the seductive Marilyn Mason meets Gary Numan of “All the Colors of the Dark” is better than anything on Manson’s latest.

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Exhumed – Death Revenge:  A lot is going to be made this year of the return of some great death/thrash: Power Trip has already made some lists, and Municipal Waste was back in form this year with Slime and Punishment.  But for the, the little engine that kicked all their asses was Exhumed’s monster Death Revenge.  Soaking in gore and amazing riffs, the album is their best since coming back from the grave in 2010.

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Gjendød – Nedstigning:  Most of my black metal picks this year went off the beaten path to chart progressive, folk, and more modern territories.  But sometimes an album just sneaks up to remind you that doing it old school has a blasting passion all its own.  I haven’t seen too many people talk about how damn good the debut full length by Gjendød is, but hopefully that’ll change once you hear the evil embedded in the anguished croak on “Til Høsten” and th rampaging of “Kvalt av fornuft.”

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Hour of Penance – Cast the First Stone:  I remember being impressed with this Italian death metal group’s 2014 album Regicide, and everything impressive there returns with Cast the First Stone.  This is death metal comfort food: lightning fast, melodic, brutal and technical without going overboard.  The title track is an all out killer, and the beatdown doesn’t let up with later tracks like “horn of Flies” and “Shroud of Ashes.”  This is guaranteed to get your blood moving.

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Mothership – High Strangeness:  The name alone should tell you what you’re in for: classic 70s heavy psychedelic rock.  Synths swirl, the fuzz is on 10, and the drum holds a beat steadier than your heartbeat.  It’s easy to get tired of so many bands dipping their toes (or whole bodies) in this niche, but there’s an effortlessness to songs like “Ride the Sun” that make Mothership stand out from other, higher profile bands that sink into a haze of smoke, their riffs never to stand out.  Bonus points for the wicked cover.

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Narrow Lands – Everything’s Fine:  This was the year I got into the noise, and Narrow Land’s quickie (recorded in a weekend) second release after the excellent Popular Music That Will Live Forever is a claustrophobic buzz of hooks and screams that fail to mask the inherent tunefulness of something like “Bring Them All Here.”  Clocking in at a brisk 22 minutes, there’s not a lot to chew on, just raw garage rock of the best kind.  It’s also Name Your Price, so there’s no reason NOT to try it out…

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Venenum – Trance of Death:  Death metal made a real comeback in 2017 to my ears, with riches in the genre that took the straight ahead old school approach (Immolation) and reached further to paths not tread (John Froom).  Venenum definitely travels a less used road, blending dissonance and melody, jarring syncopation and keyboards more at home in black metal to create a vicious, engulfing noise on Trance of Death.  “Merging Nebular Drapes” is a good starting point if you want to get a feel for what this German collective is all about.

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Wode – Servants of the Countercosmos:  How crazy is it that an album as good as Wode’s Servants of the Countercosmos is here instead of my main list?  Who knows…that may change but what won’t change is how good the band made off the promise of their debut last year (which I also had on my honorable mention list).  Great melodies, brutal riffs, and a willingness to deviate from traditional black metal elements.  I have a feeing if this came lout later in the year we’d still be talking about it, so don’t make the mistake of missing out of this blast of pure energy and check it before finalizing your own list.

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Good luck with your list making.  Remember:  all is subjective, never use someone else list as a yardstick for how yours should be, and try not to be a dick.

It’s the end of the year, after all.  ‘Tis the season, and all that.

-Chris


*Or not, as the case may be.  Maybe you just didn’t like any of these.  Maybe you’ve already got your list shored up and DAMN YOU CHRIS I DON’T NEED TO HEAR ANOTHER PLEA FOR SUCH AND SUCH ASS BAND BECAUSE DAMMIT I HAD TO GO THROUGH LIKE 500 RECORDS THIS YEAR JUST TO COME UP WITH THE LIST I ALREADY YOU SONOFABI—

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