Nine Circles ov…What Didn’t Make My 2021 End of Year List…(But Could Have)

It starts like it does every other year, with me desperately trying to whittle down the list of incredible albums I listened to into a manageable number. Well, maybe not so manageable; I know I’m known around these parts as the guy whose lists are waaaaay too long. But there’s so much out there, so many albums that impact me in large and small ways. Maybe it’s a riff, or a chorus, or a certain vocal line. It doesn’t matter; I just know I want to acknowledge it in some way and pass it on. Maybe it will impact you, too.

You’d think a list of 40 albums – my “official” Top 25 ranked list and an Honorable Mention list of 15 other albums in alphabetical order would be enough (it is for Decibel). But it never is. So for the past few years I’ve tacked on an additional nine albums that may not have made my lists for various reasons, but I still love and want to put on your radar. It’s never too late too discover something. Time may move ever forward, but these great records will forever be here for you to discover. Forget labels. Forget hype and marketing. Take a look (better yet, take a listen) to this edition of Nine Circles ov… and see what didn’t make my list for 2021…but maybe should have.

Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Black Metal in 2021

Sometimes it takes a little distance to bring you back to something. I spent a lot of 2021 listening to music that brought me back to simpler, less depressing times. “Harsh” wasn’t something I craved as I struggled with mental and emotional health – something I’m sure many of you did as well. So black metal wasn’t on my radar as much; not a problem when you have so many other writers on staff that have the genre covered. Leave the discovery and call outs to others; I’ll be content sitting back and nursing the wounds of the world with lighter fare.

Continue reading

Nine (or so Heavily Qualified) Circles ov…2021: A Mid-Year Report

2021 mid-year report

Wait…so the guy who only wrote a total of 10 freakin’ reviews this year thinks he has any weight when it comes to a mid-year report? Well, uh…I guess that’s why I put the “heavily qualified” in the title of this post?

But seriously, I’ll be the first to admit that metal hasn’t really been my #1 go-to when it comes to music lately, but like everything else, what you see on the Internet never tells you the whole story. I haven’t been writing nearly as much about the genre lately, but I have been listening. Listening, and refining. Finding the things that really resonate despite the press and the push of PR, or what the pundits tell you on the 1,001 other sites out there scrambling for clicks. And what I’ve discovered is that more and more I’m coming to the sounds that drew me to the genre: thrash riffs, lots of melody, and tasty solos. So yeah: expect some old school bands putting out great records more than 30 years into their existence here. And maybe a few newer bands as well.

Is that qualified enough for ya? Then let’s dig in.

Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Recent Albums I Only Have Time to Review in One Sentence…Part III?

I mean…it may be Part III, but who’s keeping The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 178 (4.24.2021)Nine track? Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and the metals are flying fast and furious enough that there’s a veritable cornucopia of releases worth your time. I mean, not my time…I’ve been busy, you know? Work, um…more work… that one YouTube video I’ve benn playing on repeat forever (it’s this one, by the way).

Really there’s no excuse for not enlightening you, the honorable and erudite Nine Circles reader, on my pithy and concise views of what’s been popping’ on the metal threads the last few weeks or months that our staff haven’t already covered. So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… sit down and fasten those seatbelts as I once again provide one-sentence reviews of stuff that’s been floating my proverbial boat.

Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…What Didn’t Make My 2020 End of Year List…(But Could Have)

Next week I’ll be posting Part 1 of my annual glut of end of year posts, but there’s usually so much I enjoyed I like to spread the wealth a little bit and put some beloved but odd-man-out entries out there for you to consider.  In a dumpster fire of a year like 2020, putting anything out is kind of a miracle, but the amount of quality music – let alone metal – is kind of astounding. It served as a balm when I needed to calm down, as an ignition switch when I needed to get fired up, and as a wail of despair when I didn’t think I could take much more of what life was throwing at me.

So similar to years past, any one of these could have made my final list.  Maybe it was a lack of time, maybe it was something that stood as a taste instead of a meal…maybe it’s just that what I needed was served elsewhere.  Doesn’t make this list any less righteous.  So for this edition of Nine Circles ov…, let’s stop talking and get into the good stuff.
Continue reading