Nine Circles ov…Vince’s Mid-Year Favorites

Hello. Been a while, hasn’t it? Every year feels like it’s passing us by faster and faster, but the overwhelming amount of things to process this year has already made it impossible to fathom that 2022 is halfway over. If you are curious as to what music has been keeping me grounded for the last six months, now is as good a time as any to check in and see what the standout albums of the year are, as far as one humble author is concerned. Down to business then…

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Second Circle: Nechochwen and Predatory Light

Second Circle

In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.

Black metal continues, as it has from the first time I got my ears around it, to be my favorite genre of metal. For all the trappings and headaches it can offer, there is truly nothing like black metal when it is at its best, so I’m always happy to talk it up when I find stuff that speaks to me, and today we’re having yet another two-for-one sale on this here website. Nechochwen‘s Kanawha Black and Predatory Light‘s Death and the Twilight Hours are very unlike each other in style and ethos, but bound together under the sign of the black mark.

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Album Review: Pyrithe — “Monuments to Impermanence”

‘Sludge metal’ is perhaps the most underexplained genre descriptor that metal has going for it. Ask five different people what they think sludge metal is and I’m willing to bet real world money you’d get about five different answers. Yet this lack of orthodoxy is also perhaps the microgenre’s biggest strength: calling something sludge metal, particularly the more modern kinds of metal that get labeled as such, is usually a sign you’re going to get something unexpected within your listening experience. Pyrithe‘s Monuments to Impermanence is a prime example of the kinds of weird and exciting places that sludge can lead someone.

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Second Circle: Hath and Egregore

Second Circle

In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.

Within the last two years or so, I’ve come to enjoy taking a long, hard look at my own biases when it comes to music I like and don’t like. I have a long-form rambling manifesto on the topic of progressive metal from a while back to that effect, but that is not where this self-interrogation begins or ends. I have been finding a lot of albums lately that I love despite their being played in a style of metal that I don’t generally gravitate towards, and this brings me another chance to shine a light into the cobweb-strewn corners of what’s left of my brain and grill myself about two albums that could each conceivably be called ‘blackened death metal’, although both choose to do something wildly different with that prompt. With that, I bring you something old, and something new…

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Rainbows in the Dark: Blood Incantation — “Timewave Zero”

BLOOD INCANTATION - Timewave Zero

Blood Incantation should need no introduction to readers of this column, being one of death metal’s most luminary forces in recent years, but astute followers of the Colorado four-piece have known that they have always been so much more than a mere death metal band. Timewave Zero lays bare the often occluded side of the band, stripping away all semblance of metal entirely to revel in cosmic, new age ambiance, creating a meditative soundscape that offers a perfect place to reflect, particularly for me on the nature of relationships and musical identity that become challenged when a band makes such a dramatic shift as this.

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