Best of 2017 (mid-year report): Zyklonius’ list

I'd Buy That for a Dollar

Thanks to the demands, deadlines and drudgery of my day job, this stocktaking listicle was delayed two weeks past its intended publication date at the half-way point of the year. In the intervening time, additional waves of releases were unleashed, a reminder of the golden era of quantity and quality we are currently living in. It has become increasingly challenging to stay on top of must-hear releases, even with obsessive research and vigilance, but the untold satisfaction of unearthing new records that hit you like a brick in the face, make being a metalhead in this day and age such a thrilling glory ride.

I had a difficult time narrowing the following list (in alphabetical order) down to only ten releases (ultimately, the aforementioned day job dictated its final length) that have made a lasting impact in my heart of hearts during the first six months of this year, thanks to their creativity, vision, emotion, pummeling ferocity, gripping melody, riff mastery, headbangability, confident musicianship and that certain je ne sais quoi that elevates some albums and the whole genre to dizzying artistic heights. Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Self Definition Through Music

self definition playlist

I may have said this before, but a large part of my life’s journey over the last 20 years has been analyzing what the media we consume says about us.  Each of us is obviously more than the sum of what they’ve read, watched, or listened to, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a hell of a lot of those films, books, and albums tied into the bundle of molecules that makes up who were are.  Whether it’s that record you heard at your first college party or the movie you remember watching over and over again with your father as a little kid, this seemingly disposable media is anything but…

Especially when you’re not in the most optimal mental or emotional state.  That’s when you turn to those things the resonate closest to you, that help you reinforce and re-align your identity with yourself.  For years I’ve kept an ever-expanding list of songs and albums under a playlist simply titled “Self Definition.”  It’s my lifeline for when the water gets too choppy, for when things seems to fall in on themselves in such a way you feel like you’re buried under a million things that won’t let you breathe, let you be heard.  And since the past few weeks have felt like to me, I wanted to take this edition of Nine Circles ov… to share some of those tracks that get me through the dark and remind me in a note or a chord or lyric of who I am.  Let’s dive in…   Continue reading

Unholy Divers: Atheist

unholy divers atheist band

Welcome to the first edition of Unholy Divers, a new series here at Nine Circles where we immerse ourselves in the discographies of bands we should be more familiar with, but for whatever reasons, just aren’t.

Admit it: we’ve all had those conversations with other metalheads where we pretend to be experts on a band – you know, because metal cred, guys – but actually know next to nothing about them. (Okay, this isn’t just a metal-specific occurrence.) You know how it goes – lots of “oh, yeah,” and “definitely, dude,” but hardly any actual knowledge of the artist or their music. With the wealth of music available to us, it’s just bound to happen; nobody can possibly listen to everything. (Except maybe the human encyclopedias over at Last Rites.)

Unholy Divers is our attempt to close these knowledge gaps. Each time out, we’ll take a deep dive (ha-ha) into a different band’s catalogue – studio albums, EPs, singles, splits, you name it – and hopefully give ourselves a better sense of what exactly the cool kids have been talking about for all these years. And then, we’ll write about it.

So without any further ado, let’s jump into our first band…  Continue reading

Rainbows in the Dark: Tanner Garza + Funeral Parlor – “Dark Days”

Tanner Garza Funeral Party Dark Days

Welcome to another edition of Rainbows in the Dark, the column where we talk about things that we love that don’t fall under the metal umbrella.  Rest assured that the album we will be exploring is still heavy, just a different kind of heavy.  Today brings us new sounds in the form of Dark Days, a collaboration between Texas based experimental musicians Tanner Garza and Funeral Parlor.   Continue reading

Initial Descent: July 9 – 15, 2017

Expulsion
Expulsion – pic courtesy of Jay Valena

Alright so, I hope you took my advice last week and really listened to something you found. And, I hope you’ll do the same this week as we have much more to get into here on Initial Descent. We all have to have an outlet — a way to just bang it out, you know? And a way to escape and have a little fun from time to time. Well, we’ve got just the thing in our lead off spot with the full length debut, Nightmare Future, from the mega-super-group Expulsion — a raucous good time with members of Repulsion, Exhumed, Phobia and more, get it. Moving on is the split 12″, Procession of the Equinox, from the absolute masterminds of current folk/atmospheric black metal, Twilight Fauna and Evergreen Refuge — a monster of an album that is a must own. Next up is NZ’s Vesicant with their bombastic blackened death metal debut Shadows of Cleansing Iron and closing out the opening spots is Boris with Dear, this amazing band triumphantly returns with their personal brand of rock, drone and experimental soundscapes and again, a must own. So, we are already loaded for bear but as usual this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg — keep reading and keep listening… Continue reading