Hello and welcome to another definitely on time edition of the Nine Circles Playlist in which I did not drop the ball and forget about this write-up. This week, we have an excellent new single from Stone Healer, some classic Bolt Thrower, and…Europe? Like “The Final Countdown” Europe? Yes, the very same. We can’t help that we contain multitudes.
We have to kick things off with the Roadburn Redux announcement. Roadburn 2021 will take place virtually, with all performances broadcast live from Tilburg. Some big names announced already, and all available on a ‘pay what you like platform’, which is unreal. Check out the site to get the whole scoop.
Clock on the wall says 1am and unsurprisingly cracking a bottle of Henry McKenna 10yr bourbon just feels right as I sample the picks we’ve assembled for this week’s playlist. Don’t judge me, no work tomorrow and after 40+ years of practice my eyes will open no later than 5am so put that in your pipe and smoke it. Anyway, we’ve got a stacked mixtape for this glorious Saturday and I’ve confirmed it’s, as they say, a banger. I bring some new Bloody Hammers and The Crown, Vince brings The Ruins of Beverast and Havukruunu, Didrik lays down a killer Woods of Ypres pick along with new Soen, Ian offers up a Møl cut and an Aara track, and Angela keeps the livestream Goatwhore feels alive as well as a selection from Divide and Dissolve. All that and a ton more awaits behind the play button below, so get after it.
Of Mice & Men have signed on with Sharptone Records, and are preparing the release of a new EP on February 26th titled Timeless. If this is something that intrigues you, check out the new animated video for “Obsolete”.
Spanish doom metallers Golgotha dropped a new video today, and that sounds like a fun note to end on. And by fun, I mean the opposite of that. “Don’t Waste Your Life” is taken from Remembering the Past – Writing the Future, an EP set for a March 2nd release date through Xtreem Music.
At this point, what more is there to say about what happened in 2020? I could echo the sentiments of so many others, on this blog and otherwise, but I think we get the idea. I could take this time to lament about the struggles around us, our unsustainable societal structure and all that, but that rant should probably be for another time and place. For now, I’ll just say that my hope is that we can all reflect on the events of 2020 and recalibrate what we prioritize as a society… but I’m not optimistic that will happen. And to all the calendar watchers out there, 2021 won’t magically be better just because it happens to not be 2020. Want things to be better? Make change. That applies to all of us. Status quo sucks anyway.
Enough of that, let’s spin the narrative a bit. As the world continues to burn around us (literally and figuratively), I need to express unrelenting gratitude to all the artists and musicians that continued to perfect their craft over the past several months. Without concerts, and as album sales continue to serve as minimal revenue at best, pausing these pursuits in search of other enterprises would have been understandable. In a year with so much negativity, and so much time away from friends and family, the music I absorbed in 2020 resonated on a deeper level than it has in years. So, thank you, for offering an escape from the daily chaos. A (completely self-induced) pressure to absorb more and more music had taken over in recent years, and as a result my connection to individual records was hindered. A basic quantity over quality concept in listening experience, I suppose. This past year, however, that wasn’t the case. I still consumed an aggressive amount of new music, but the exploration was more curious, and more genuine, than in years past. The result? A stronger attachment to the 2020 releases… which I’m certain will resonate long after we start our 2021 discussions. If there is a bright side to 2020, it’s the realigning, or rediscovering, of our passions and finding new ways to pursue them in the day-to-day. And that’s a mentality I hope to take into the new year.
So let’s dive into my 2020 picks. As always, nine favorites and nine honorable mentions. Side note: I can’t remember a year in which it was this hard to separate a few albums from the greater pack, and that’s probably the result of offering myself the opportunity to truly embed myself in these albums. There was just so much quality presented this year, and delivered over such an expansive spectrum. Just another part of the ridiculous journey that was 2020, I suppose. Anyway…