The Nine Circles ov…Integrity

Integrity was always more than just a hardcore band. Not that anyone from the late-80s/early 90s scene was “just a hardcore band” Sick of it All, Gorilla Biscuits, Strife, Bold, Judge and In My Eyes all had their own sound. But Integrity set themselves apart from the entire landscape with their sound AND their lyrics. Sure, for many years they were on Victory Records and part of the wave of bands that injected more metal into second-wave hardcore, which eventually birthed the sound we think of today.

But again, Integrity was different. Continue reading

The Nine Circles ov…Cradle of Filth

I first discovered Cradle of Filth via the temporary resurrection of Headbanger’s Ball in 2003, when their video for “Mannequin” was in heavy rotation. This catchy yet creepy song stuck with me and helped me remember the band when I started getting more into black metal the following year, picking up the Lovecraft and Witch Hearts compilation and getting thoroughly hooked. “But they’re not really black metal, what are you talking about?!” Ah yes, I understood early on how controversial the band was within black metal circles. They, along with Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon, had achieved some crossover mainstream success in the mid-2000s. And thus this leads us into my Nine Circles ov…Cradle of Filth. Continue reading

The Nine Circles Ov… USBM

USBM

The metal scenes in Europe and the United States have always had a symbiotic relationship. When one scene moves in a particular direction, the other one begins by emulating and then transcending that direction. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was a profound influence on the American thrash metal scene, a scene which would greatly influence musicians all over Europe (e.g. Swedish death metal), and so on. To make a (very) broad generalization: Europe tends to bring the mythology and romantic mystique; America tends to bring a more self-oriented, personal touch.

This is true of the American black metal scene as well. A good introduction to United States Black Metal (USBM) requires an appreciation for the bands that began by directly emulating the stylistic giants of Scandinavia, Switzerland and elsewhere. True, the American scene has gone in all sorts of directions since its development in the mid-to-late 1990s. But listeners should have a sense of context before moving into the specialized realms occupied by death-laden heroes like Goatwhore and Hod, along with the indie/alternative influenced sounds made famous by Wolves in the Throne Room. So with that in mind, enter the Nine Circles ov USBM. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Grave – “You’ll Never See”

Grave_-_You'll_Never_See..When it comes to classic Swedish death metal (aka, the “Sunlight” sound), everyone talks about Entombed, Dismember and Carnage. And rightly so, these bands and their classic albums are foundational to the development of the death metal genre. But more people need to recognize Grave. Additionally, more people need to recognize 1992’s You’ll Never See as a classic death metal album. Continue reading

Throwback Thursday: Suffocation – “Pierced From Within”

SUFFOCATION-Pierced-from-Within-LP-BLACKPierced from Within is a continuation of Suffocation’s streak of death metal classics, but was also a huge leap forward for the band. From a creative and influential standpoint, the band had long since made its mark with 1991’s Effigy of the Forgotten, and if they broke up after this they would still have the legacy of a foundational death metal act (after all, Carnage only released one album and are rightly hailed as important as well). But this record, released in 1995, saw the band achieve an even higher level of greatness in terms of songwriting and production. Continue reading