Column: The Path to Paradise Begins In Hell

The Path to Paradise Begins In Hell

Last month, I discussed my penchant for symphonic metal and how its fandom eventually led me to listen to it with a lot of caution. Now, the three albums I chose for that segment weren’t my first gateway albums, but are three that remain close to my heart and are underappreciated by a lot of listeners. Anyway, for this chapter of the column – and for the sake of a timeline – I decided to talk about a subgenre that has remained controversial despite the claims of apolitical affiliations and people making terrible decisions.

It’s time we talk about black metal. Continue reading

The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 5 (8.22.2017)

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Happy Tuesday, Metal Internet World. Yes, I realize this most recent edition of The Nine Circles Playlist is coming at you a day late and a dollar short, but there’s a very good reason for that. Well, actually, I guess not really. I was camping all weekend and Sunday night found me preparing for a 19 mile day of hiking and climbing in the White Mountains. So yeah, this fell down the pecking order. Regardless! We have 17 delicious tracks from all over the map for you to enjoy on this fine morning. If you want to check out our old playlists, I encourage you jump on our YouTube channel here. Otherwise, do that thing where you press play after the jump. Continue reading

The Nine Circles Playlist: Vol. 3 (8.7.2017)

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Happy Monday everyone. It’s currently Sunday afternoon here in sunny Portsmouth and Josh and I are starting to get ourselves together for the Neurosis/Converge/Amenra show down in Boston tonight. So, I’m going to make this pretty efficient for you today because 1. There’s shit we need to do in a little while and 2. I’m slightly hungover and don’t have a ton to say. A brand new edition of our playlist is available for your listening pleasure below. Miss a playlist from either of the past two weeks? Fret not, you can check out all the playlists on our YouTube channel. That’s it from me. Have a good week! Continue reading

Nine Circles ov… “Isolated Evolution” Influences

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So, besides championing the music I love to the masses here at Nine Circles, I also bash a bunch of instruments together under the perhaps ill-conceived name Necrolytic Goat Converter.  I mention this for two reasons: 1) so it doesn’t feel like it’s coming out of nowhere when I mention my new album Isolated Evolution comes out August 18 and you can pre-order it here, and 2) one of the things that often gets mentioned in both reviews and interviews for ANY band or album is influences.  Drawing comparisons and tracing lines to other music is par for the course when it comes to reviewing albums – heck, we do it ourselves here all the time.

So, since it’s been asked of me more than once and it gives me the chance to briefly wax poetic on some of the music I love, this edition of Nine Circles ov… highlights some of the specific songs and bands that served as a foundation upon which I constructed the album.  Which I will again gladly point out you can pre-order using the link above.  That being said, let’s dig in…   Continue reading

Best of 2016: Dan’s List

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So yeah, this year sure sucked in a lot of ways, didn’t it?

On a personal level…where to begin? My family said goodbye to our beloved dog, Bailey. I had a rough breakup at the end of April. I got into a deeper rut in my professional life than I’d ever experienced before, which culminated in me quitting my job and leaving New York. I also, briefly, quit Nine Circles. (You didn’t think I’d stay away for good though, did you?)

And that’s just my stuff! Beyond that…well, for starters, pretty much everyone died. Prince, Alan Rickman, Phife Dawg, Craig Sager…I mean, you kind of had to know 2016 was going to be shitty on that front after we lost David goddamn Bowie when the year was scarcely a week old. And that’s all to say nothing of the other shit: escalation of racial tensions across the country, continued apathy toward a changing climate, Christmas Eve / Day and New Year’s Eve / Day both falling on Saturdays and Sundays…it was a lot, man. Oh, and we also elected the personification of an Internet comment section to the presidency. That was neat.

In spite of all that, 2016 wound up being a goddamn banner year for metal. When I first started thinking about this list, I was envisioning maybe a Top 15 – but that quickly grew to a Top 25, and then to its current incarnation: a Top 50, with 20 “ranked” albums and 30 honorable mentions, not to mention EPs. It was just impossible to whittle it down any further; that’s how good metal was this year. Hell, I had a number of albums that featured in my mid-year list that didn’t even make it into the honorable mentions section of this one!

Make no mistake, this year would have felt exponentially shittier without all of those records. In times like these, cueing up a metal record that’s driving you bonkers, throwing your head back and howling at the moon kind of becomes essential to maintaining your sanity. And you know what? Sanity was maintained. (Well, mine at least…I dunno about America’s. All the more reason for America to start listening to more damn metal.)

This year may have thrown every possible pile of feces it could at us, but you know what? We made it through anyway. We’re still here and it’s not. And that’s nothing to turn our noses at. Here are the records that helped make that happen for me:  Continue reading