Nine Circles ov…Albums I Missed While on Vacation

Can’t a guy take a few weeks off with dozens upon dozens of new albums being scattered into the winds? Thank the heavens for Ian and Angela, who covered (and covered me) with reviews of Ithaca, Imperial Triumphant, and Wailin Storms so I was able to read up and listen while burning to a crisp in Mexico. But – like every week – that was just the tip of the iceberg for heavy music, so for this edition of Nine Circles ov… let’s play a quick game of catch-up with a bunch of releases from the past two weeks we didn’t cover on the site.

I have coffee and copious amounts of aloe vera applied to various appendages. Let’s do this.

My mother always said the key to a great thrash/death album is in the drumming. So it certainly doesn’t hurt that Cavernous Depths, the second full length from Battlegrave features none other than Samus Paulicelli behind the kit. The core duo of Clint Patzel and Rohan Buntine keep the music tight and aggressive, at times channeling Slayer as much as more extreme bands like Misery Index. The move to Bitter Loss Records beefs up the production in every way, making this a welcome addition to fast, heavy, and groovy.

behold the monolith - from the fathomless deep

Need some deep, crushing, fathomless metal to pull you under the waves? Well then Behold! The Monolith with their aptly named From the Fathomless Deep. This technically came out right as I was leaving for vacation (thanks Buke for turning me onto it!), but I only caught up with it now and have been hooked (sorry (not sorry) for all the fishing/water puns) by how dark and dank these riffs are. If you put a little Lovecraftian horror in your music I’m already halfway there, but coupling it with some mean and punishing doom that truly evokes that slammin’ album cover really makes this one to check out if you haven’t already – everything is right there in opening track “Crown/The Immeasurable Void.”

Chat Pile - Gods Country

Upon hearing God’s Country, the debut full length from Oklahoma’s Chat Pile my friends and I quickly went into comparison mode. My first thought was the noise rock quartet were perfectly channeling heavy 90s noise and metal like a more serious and brutal King Missile, but my buddy Erik nailed it when he brought up pre-Jesus Lizard band Scratch Acid. This thing is a monster: jarring, explosive, and oddly beautiful as it rails against the condition of our planet as only the truly passionate can. Every track’s a winner here, but the closing nine minutes of “grimace_smoking_weed.jpeg” turned this into an EOY contender for me.

critical defiance - no life forms

I love the choice of calling the album No Life Forms as opposed to No Lifeforms, really hammering home the desolation of a metal setting: it’s not that there are no lifeforms here, it’s that the place is so desolate that no…life…FORMS! Anyway, it’s an open secret that I love thrash, and Critical Defiance are incredibly obliging on that front, whipping through dozens of laser-focused riffs and solos and chugging that brings 1987 straight into my ears, albeit with a modern production that makes tracks like “Dying Breath” and the odd funk, DBC influenced “Kill Them With Kindness” breath with a life all their own.

Grima - Frostbitten

I wrote about Grima last year in my black metal roundup and was impressed with the way the Finnish duo were able to conjure atmospheric black metal that preserved the beauty of the environment while maintaining the raw power of the genre. Well, everything good about last year’s Rotting Garden is great on latest album Frostbitten. The production is amped up considerably, giving a wider sound stage and grandeur to the tracks, and the icy riffs are just as mesmerizing. The dynamics at play on a song like “Giant’s Eternal Sleep” show just how far the duo have come in a short time. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re talking about Frostbitten again come end of year.

I don’t know that anything will get me to actually like the classic Onward to Golgotha, but over the years and especially with the last few years I’ve come to really appreciate what Incantation bring to the table. Tricennial of Blasphemy celebrates 30 years of the band’s existence with three discs of rare and unreleased music, and if “Pest Savagery” and “Ordained By Night’s Will” are any indication, the stuff Incantation isn’t putting out is better than 90% of what death metal is doing these days. This is skull-smashing, pitchfork-piercing death metal at its most crunchy and black, and it’s probably going to make me go back to their earlier catalog again.

Krisiun - Mortem Solis

I’m here to make a confession and rectify a grievous mistake: I haven’t really listened to Krisiun since 2008’s Southern Storm. Within the first 15 seconds of “Sworn Enemies,” the first track on Mortem Solis I realized the errors of my ways. If anything the band has become more extreme: the fast parts faster, the arrangements even tighter. The core trio has been in place for over 30 years, and damn if songs like “Serpent Messiah” and “War Blood Hammer” aren’t as ferocious as anything they’ve put out in that time. Just goes to show you how the old dogs have more than enough tricks to keep the youngsters in awe.

nebula - transmission from mothership earth

We’re seven albums into this post and I haven’t covered a single stoner metal album…it must be the heat stroke. Allow me to remedy that with Transmission From Mothership Earth, the latest slab of fuzzy psychedelic metal from California’s Nebula. The bass sound on this thing will kill your lawn and strip the paint off your fence. I was familiar with the band’s early output back in the Sub Pop days, but it never sounded so gnarly and twisted as it does on “Highwired” or the title track. Massive amounts of groove and rhythm with enough panned effects to complement your drug of choice, friends. Play this on a good set of headphones, turn it up, and lay back and simply drift…

secret creation - deathkommando cottontail

A lot of folks around the 9C offices are huge fans of Damian Master, the force behind A Pregnant Light and Colloquial Sound Recordings, among many other things. Including this insane offering under his Secret Creation name. Dethkommando Cottontail is raw, brutal black metal that just aches and tears in the best possible way. Recorded inside a tin can with the souls of the rabbit from Watership Down as guitar strings, this is a riot in the best possible way, forcing me to buy a cassette even though I don’t actually have a cassette player. Despite the concept and track titles like “kissing ur tiny cute nose” there is no real joke here – the metaphor for what happens to fragile beauty is all too real, and anyone who might have chanced upon Masters’ first run with Secret Creation – the chilling 2-track Bar Bye Bunny from 2016 – knows the jokey veneer is simply that. I’ve always enjoyed the more “produced” efforts Masters puts out, but there’s something about his work here that gets me at a primitive level.

Until next time, keep it heavy. Keep it safe.

– Chris

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