Album Review: Ex Eye – “Ex Eye”

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There’s a power to naming things.  Labeling, categorizing, putting things into some kind of identifiable framework helps us to make sense of our thoughts and feelings.  When something defies easy categorization it can challenge us to reconfigure that framework; putting the work in yields a greater pleasure than what came before.  Ex Eye, the new group put together and anchored by saxophonist Colin Stetson, seeks to challenge our perceptions of metal with their debut Ex Eye and succeeds in creating a enveloping, dense work of instrumental music that doesn’t sacrifice once facet of its sound for another.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…My Metal “Retreat”

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Man cannot live on metal alone.

“Blasphemy!” you may cry, but true…at least in this dude’s case.  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of stress and activity as I turned another year older, paid another bill, worked another late night, blah blah blah.  It gets to a point sometimes when you just need to clear your head and take a little time for yourself.  Not to mention that after a while when you’re digesting promo after promo you run the danger of not giving the music the attention it warrants.  And you start to look for shortcuts.  “Well,” you tell yourself, “I heard the first four songs, I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to really change my mind about this thing.” Or worse, you start just leaning more and more on the materials in the press release: “Oh! A cross of Joan Baez and Incantation?  But with drone elements?  I’ll say a mix of Joni Mitchell and Malevolent Creation with, uh….fuck it, drone elements.”

You know what I’m taking about.  For me, it’s a matter of disconnecting in order to reconnect.  And there’s been plenty of music I’ve been discovering over the past few months that have helped me to reconnect with what it is I love about loud noises.  So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… I want to share a few of the records that have been recharging the batteries and re-calibrating the heavy sensors.  Let’s dig in.   Continue reading

Album Review: Iced Earth – “Incorruptible”

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I take no small measure of comfort in knowing that someday, when the white belts and skinny jeans have faded from memory, when the fads and fashions of the day wither away like so much blackgaze on a hot afternoon, Jon Schaffer will still be making new Iced Earth music, and said music will fiercely stick to its guns, brandishing solid, chunky heavy metal with a level of sincerity and commitment that hasn’t wavered in over 25 years.  The sound is nigh incorruptible, and it just so happens so it the title.

Incorruptible, that is…   Continue reading

Album Review: Space Witch – “Arcanum”

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Ah, stoner/doom…how easy it is to fall under your numbing spell, how simple it is to get lost in your repetitive riffing, your lethargic tempos, your incantations of despair.  And yet…how difficult it is to stand out in an increasingly crowded pack of grunged out bearded weirdos intent on bludgeoning the music world with another riff on Sleep, or Electric Wizard, or Weedeater, or…well, take your pick.  By keeping one foot firmly planted in the more esoteric 70s astral prog sonics of bands like Hawkwind even as they lumber through the fuzzed out landscapes molded by Sleep and the other aforementioned bands, Space Witch manage to carve out their own identity with new album Arcanum, a spacey, tripped out sludge through a muddy galaxy of distortion and electronics.   Continue reading

Album Review: Anathema – “The Optimist”

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The coordinates tell you where you need to go, and what you need to know.  There’s an abandoned car at the beach, a radio tuned to 2001 and A Fine Day to Exit, the flag in the ground for where Anathema would begin their journey into the unknown world of dark, contemporary music: beholden to no-one but themselves and the vision for what the band could be.  Sixteen years and four albums later the Anathema show no signs of giving up the ghost, continuing to explore an emotional tapestry of life on their newest album The Optimist.  It’s a beautiful, focused effort that channels a darkness and ultimate catharsis through mood, melody, and a adept touch with with electronics.   Continue reading