I most certainly do not need to go into detail about all the chaos and confusion that has existed in the world over the past three years. 2022 has been especially filled with new challenges and uncertainties, to the point where now I just throw my hands in the air and laugh as it all keeps piling up. Chaos. And confusion. But those that know me, know that I have few specific pursuits each day that help me keep at least some order in all of this. One of those, of course, is this blog. And a second one is running. Which is what brings us here today.
Over the last several years I have challenged myself to train for and complete a marathon each calendar year, an endeavor that has allowed me to push my limits while offering some pretty cool travel experiences. Boston 2014 to 2016. 2018 was Detroit. 2019 Syracuse. 2020… the world ended. And 2021 was Lake Placid. And now, this coming Sunday, September 25th, 2022, will be Berlin. The event I’ve had my eye on since I started running at 14, and participation that’s been confirmed, yet pending, since 2020. Needless to say, I’m filled with nervous energy and won’t be able to process the fact that any of this is happening until I’m standing under the Brandenburg Gate. But enough about me and my questionable pursuits. This is a music blog. And we at Nine Circles have been desperate for content. So, here we are. Obviously, I run with music. And I spend more time than I’m willing to admit in curating playlists for such events. What else is going to help me get through 26.2 miles? My own thoughts? YIKES. Considering this is my first return to Germany since 2014, I’ve built a special playlist just for the occasion, and I thought I’d take a little time to share a handful of tracks from that collection.
Alternate title for this post: “Nine Circles ov…Random Songs by German Bands that Corey Likes”.
The Ocean – “Jurassic | Cretaceous” (from Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic)
Of course, I need to lead things off with my favorite band. And considering they’re Berlin-based, well, it all works out too nicely. I struggled a bit to settle on a track, but ultimately opted for their most recent material. The immensity of this track, especially the pummeling passages at the beginning, coupled with the definitive changes of direction this track takes over the extensive runtime, is perfect for the opening miles of an endurance event. The intensity will help get the blood pumping early on, while the more melodic and meandering segments offer something to focus on while settling into a rhythm for the long haul.
The Ruins Of Beverast – “Anchoress In Furs” (from The Thule Grimoires)
For those that need a reminder, The Thule Grimoires was one of my favorite albums from last year. It’s dark and menacing, yet has this cosmic quality that makes it truly captivating. “Anchoress In Furs” is a perfect example of those qualities, and provides the perfect energy for where we are (or where I hope to be). It’s important to settle into a consistent, comfortable cadence in the early miles, and tapering the adrenaline by getting mentally and emotionally sucked into these entrancing minutes feels right. And for what it’s worth, the vocals and lyrics on this track still chill me to my core. Incredible stuff.
Horn – “Satt scheint der Sud der Tat” (from Mohngang)
A third of the way through, and it’s about time we introduce some black metal to get the energy back up a bit. For those unaware, Horn rules, and has for a long time. But Mohngang might be the best of the bunch and it starts off with a bang. Not a ton much to say beyond that. These four minutes are a ton of fun, and officially has me salivating over the thought of my first post-marathon beer. EIN BIER BITTE.
Obscura – “Incarnated” (from Cosmogensis)
Approaching the halfway point, the goal now is to keep the playlist moving along with some quick-hitters to both help keep the energy up and provide a distraction during a grueling stretch. “Incarnated” was my entry to the Obscura world, and I haven’t looked back since. Super catchy, blisteringly fast, and no doubt a healthy caffeine dose. Oh, and the bass work in this track? Phenomenal.
Blind Guardian – “The Ninth Wave” (from Beyond the Red Mirror)
Halfway home, and it’s time to refocus. Yes, I am aware that Blind Guardian just released a new album, and yes I am aware that I’m way behind in listening to it. But for this purpose, we’re calling back to their previous effort. My feelings toward Beyond the Red Mirror were mostly mixed, but that opening track sure is something. Just when the hour and the miles call for something inspiring, or reinvigorating, I don’t think I could choose better. Let’s fucking go.
Equilibrium – “Blut Im Auge” (from Sagas)
Sagas is an absolute treasure. Yes, I know my sign-off is pulled from “Wirtshaus Gaudi”, but I’ve got a few more miles to go before I can get on that level. So, we call back to this classic. And to be honest, I don’t even know what Equilibrium are up to these days, but this track, and this album, will always find a home in my collection. For me, they really hit that sweet spot between black and folk metal, without going completely over the top. Here, the speed and aggression are very much appreciated.
Heaven Shall Burn – “The Weapon They Fear” (from Antigone)
Ok, in full disclosure I’ve never really been a HSB fan. Even after catching their awesome performance at Wacken in 2014, it just never stuck. But for whatever reason, this track has been in my brain ever since I heard it for the first time in… I don’t remember the year. Awhile ago. It’s fucking fire. It’s vicious, unrelenting, and super catchy. And at this point, I’m hating my life choices as much as I ever have, so the angst and aggression feels just about right.
Der Weg einer Freiheit – “Letzte Sonne” (from Stellar)
Down to the last 10K or so is where the mental struggle really sets in. It’s the final wall to break through (pun intended), but it’s impossible to focus on that in the moment. Having covered 20 miles, you feel like you should be just about there… until you realize there are another six to go. It’s a dark place to be, knowing everything you’ve spent months working for is still that far away. Sounds like a good place to slide in some more depressive atmospheric black metal, in the form of Der Weg einer Freiheit. The work on Stellar won’t ease the suffering, but rather the darkness of the album aligns with it. It’s actually comforting, almost a forced acknowledgement of how much things suck. But we’re getting there…
Rammstein – “Deutschland” (from Rammstein)
I mean, fucking… DUH. The Brandenburg Gate, and the finish line, looms near. How else should we conclude this journey than with the most epic track from, I would argue, Rammstein’s greatest album? There isn’t a damn thing I need to say beyond that. If “Deutschland” is playing as I cross the Berlin Marathon finish line, that would be too perfect. Mein Herz in Flammen.
And there you have it. Well, not really. The actual playlist will be like 75 tracks, but whatever. You get the idea. I’m excited, and nervous, about this coming weekend. It feels surreal, and it will continue to feel surreal until the time comes to pound some Berlin pavement.
Oh, and after all this we’re going to Oktoberfest. I’ll let you know if I make it home in one piece.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”