Nine Circles Ov…Liturgy


In a 2009 essay titled Transcendental Black Metal, Liturgy frontwoman Haela Hunt-Hendrix details her philosophy on black metal. For her the goal of black metal is to move past what she’s calls the Hyperborean black metal of Norway to her brand of “transcendental black metal”. The body of the essay discusses the genre in connections to her own religious philosophies. For Hunt-Hendrix, black metal isn’t a genre to follow but a medium to express their uniquely personal Christian ideology. It’s an attitude and philosophy that has led to Liturgy having polarized reputation with metal fans. 

That friction between the expectation of what black metal, a genre with origins in paganism, is like and what Liturgy create is precisely what makes them exciting. The Brooklyn based band still utilizes the traditional high pitched guitar shredding, blast beats, and howling one expects of black metal. Yet on a given album you might also hear bells, flutes, harps, electronic breaks, and chamber orchestras. That willingness to go out on a limb may not be endearing but it makes them exciting. With the release of 96396 imminent, now seems like a good time to reassess Liturgy’s discography as a whole for new fans and people who previously wrote them off. It’s a recognition that a band can start out as one thing and transform into something else.

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Nine Circles ov… Dååth

They’re back! After a 12-plus year hiatus, Dååth have returned to the scene. With a fresh new deal inked with Metal Blade, a revamped lineup, and the recent release of “No Rest No End”, the progressive death metal crew seem poised for a big 2023. And I, for one, couldn’t be more excited for their return. So, with all of that said, this seemed like an appropriate time to revisit their catalog. Considering their previous three albums, The Hinderers, The Concealers, and 2010’s final, self-titled effort are all free over on their Bandcamp page, we’ll focus on those collections. The Hinderers specifically, released back in 2007, had a major impact on the trajectory of my music taste going forward, and it has been a serious treat revisiting some of those classics. So, without further delay, let’s dive right into nine of my favorite Dååth tracks. Some are obvious, some hopefully are a little less so…

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Nine Circles ov… Enslaved Deep Cuts

If there’s one thing to know about my musical taste, it’s that Enslaved is my all-time favorite band. If Enslaved has one fan then I’m that one, if Enslaved has no fans I am dead, you get the idea. From the early days of lightning fast riffs and blast beats galore to the masterful blending of black and prog metal that has defined (but not constrained) them for over 20 years, and the multilayered ways in which Norse mythology and mysticism present themselves in their lyrics and album concepts, Enslaved encapsulate everything I love about heavy music. Ivar Bjørnson and Grutle Kjellson prove time and again that the band they founded as teens in 1991 will never compromise or tread the same paths twice, yet always remain consistent. With the release of their sixteenth full-length album Heimdal almost upon us, there’s no better time to revisit nine realms of the Enslaved saga.

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All In: Nine Circles ov 2022 — The Staff’s Combined List

Best of 2022

Greetings! Just when you thought it was finally over, we have one last piece of 2022 content to share with the masses. I’m sure you’ve already gotten a sense of this across our individual lists, but 2022 was a really, REALLY strong year. In nearly every corner of every metal subgenre one quality release emerged after another. Personally, I can’t remember having a harder time picking the best of the best. And spoiler alert: our team stats at the end of this list reflect that. So while the doomsday clock keeps ticking forward, and the world gets increasingly uglier, we can rest assured that metal as an outlet is as strong as ever. So, once again, we’ve rounded up our favorite albums as a writing team and nailed down the top nine albums between all of us. Here’s how it all works…

Like last year (and previous years), each member of the Nine Circles staff (well, most of them), chose their nine favorite albums (inclusive of EPs), listed in order, and up to nine honorable mentions. Obviously, branding counts. A scoring system was applied to the rankings. For example, one person’s first place album received 10 points, the second received 9, and so on and so forth… and all honorable mentions received 1 point. Then, combining the scores across everyone’s lists, we have ourselves a Nine Circles ov 2022, brought to you by, well, everyone. Almost everyone.

Immediately after the break, you’ll find the top albums of 2022 as chosen by the Nine Circles staff, starting with number 9 and working down to number 1 at the end. And again, we also tracked the labels that produced these albums, allowing us to crown a label of the year, using the same scoring process as above. This is clearly the highest honor in the industry, so I’m sure the anticipation couldn’t be higher. Who claimed this title for 2022? You’ll have to wait until the very end to find out.

Simple enough, right? Right. Enough reading, let’s get into it…

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Nine Circles ov…What Didn’t Make My 2022 End of Year List…(But Could Have)

We’re back, exactly 365 days from the last time I kicked off my run of End of Year tomfoolery. And I’m not gonna lie: this year the wear of listening to and giving time, consideration, and word to so many albums is taking more than a little toll. At 40 years and counting of being obsessed with music I can still feel the flush of discovering something new, but I think I’m quicker to make the call on whether I’ll continue to listen to something or not. And I admit the pull of the nostalgic, the familiar, the comfort is stronger than it’s ever been.

That hasn’t stopped me from finding joy from a lot of records: You’re still getting altogether a list of 40 albums – my “official” Top 25 ranked list and an Honorable Mention list of 15 other albums in alphabetical order (if Decibel can list 40 than so can I). And just like in years past I’ve tacked on an additional nine albums that didn’t make my lists for various reasons, but I still love and want to put on your radar. The reasons why are fickle and unique, and time being the great equalizer means these omissions may come back to haunt me…lord knows they have in the past. That’s the great thing about lists – they’re snapshots of a moment and never written in stone. Well, maybe one list was, but these are far from commandments. They’re just more great albums to get excited about.

Once more into the breach. 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 2022…but could have.

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