Nine Circles ov…Recent Albums I Only Have Time to Review in One Sentence…Part III?

I mean…it may be Part III, but who’s keeping track? Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and the metals are flying fast and furious enough that there’s a veritable cornucopia of releases worth your time. I mean, not my time…I’ve been busy, you know? Work, um…more work… that one YouTube video I’ve benn playing on repeat forever (it’s this one, by the way).

Really there’s no excuse for not enlightening you, the honorable and erudite Nine Circles reader, on my pithy and concise views of what’s been popping’ on the metal threads the last few weeks or months that our staff haven’t already covered. So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… sit down and fasten those seatbelts as I once again provide one-sentence reviews of stuff that’s been floating my proverbial boat.

Vital is both the album name and feeling from Montreal’s Big|Brave, another mammoth slice of post drone sludge that balances the emotional heft of previous outing A Gaze Among Them with more fragile beauty and a powerhouse performance from vocalist Robin Wattie on tracks like the pulsating “Half Breed” and the washed out bliss of the closing title track.

Man, just when I thought I was over Haunt for if nothing else the sheer volume of output along comes Beautiful Distraction to remind me that when Trevor William Church is firing on all cylinders there’s no one better at putting out ridiculous retro rockers like “In Our Dreams” or the title track that feel like 1,001 of the best choruses from the 80s have been mainlined into your spine.

howling giant - alteration

I’ll take anything I can get from Howling Giant, so the news of a fresh EP in the form of Alteration just means more of everything I love about this band: epic melodic riffs, big rock production, subtle spaced out background elements and a majesty to each of these stoner instrumental jams that will more than hold me over until the next proper full length storms the gates and takes residence inside my head.

It may have taken five years for Iotunn to fulfill the promise of their excellent debut EP, but Access All Worlds is here to show the wait was worth it, blending power metal and thrash with a sharp progressive edge on sprawling tracks like “Waves Below” and the massive closer “Safe Across the Endless Night” not to mention that killer title track, all of which break the 10-minute mark ensuring maximum rockage is in place.

paladine - entering the abyss

Paladine were one of the bands I happened upon when I started getting back into the waters of power metal, and their new album Entering the Abyss continues the trend of strong anthemic power metal that relies heavily on the sonic power of vocalist Nick ‘The Metalizer’ Protonotarios who brings the epic with flair on “War of the Lance” and “Hourglass in the Sky,” not to mention nine other odes to glory.

Sleepwalker - Noc Na Krayu Sveta

Every time 夢遊病者 (Sleepwalker) come out with new music it’s a cause for celebration, and the maelstrom of styles that make up the two tracks on latest release Noč Na Krayu Sveta are no different: expect to be immersed in some serious extremity that partakes of, but does not get mired in, avant-garde black metal, classical, jazz, and a myriad of other genres that coagulate into something that can only fall under the 夢遊病者 umbrella.

I admit it’s been a while since I thought of Wode, but man what a change they bring to their new album Burn in Many Mirrors which now might be my favorite thing they’ve done, as the modern black metal is turned down in favor of some serious metal riffing on opener “Lunar Madness” and some ripping death that transforms into epic trad on “Serpent’s Coil.”

zao - the crimson corridor

I fully admit I’m not a particular fan of the metalcore fury Zao bring to the game, but there’s something gripping about opener “Into the Jaws of Dread” and how it sharply segues into “Ship of Theseus” on the band’s latest The Crimson Corridor that enthralled me, and surprisingly (to me, anyway) the rest of the album remained pretty strong so if you’ve been kept at arm’s length from the band’s output before maybe this is the one to draw you in…

zaratus - in the days of whore

It might be enough for me to tell you that Zaratus is some serious Greek black metal featuring members from Varathron and Soulskinner, but what if I also told you the opening track to In the Days of Whore features saxophone and carnival rhythms, and it was STILL worth your time?

Tune in next time when I’m sure Haunt will have another three releases prepped and ready to go, as well as some more great rockin’ tunes that will hold you over as we look to maybe…just maybe…keeping our heads on straight enough to get through this pandemic and thrash and mosh in the streets with abandon.


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