We’re back, and it feels like Spring is really starting to take a hold. I’ve been re-organizing my vinyl collection the past few days, figuring out just where the hell everything is going to fit and how I’m going to explain to my wife why I need to take over another room before the next stack arrives. First world problems to be sure, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it to kick off the 225th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist, you know?
We’re gonna kick things off with some of the surprises I’ve discovered the last week, starting with new music from Michael Romeo, who brings the heavy prog I crave from Symphony X on his new solo joint. Anton ups the tech factor with some ripping new Inanimate Existence and follows it up with Luminous Vault and Lustmord collaborating with The Ocean. Josh digs into the dank earth of death metal to give light to Analepsy, Visceral Explosion, and Flesh Configuration before shaking things up a bit with Downcross and Real Steel. Vincent goes wide as usual with the newest single from Devil Master, Tzompantli, Falls of Rauros and deep cut from the Pieces of April soundtrack by Stephin Merrit. Hera returns to the playlist and brings Ibaraki, Ghost, Terzij de Horde, Playgrounded, Sadist, and something I’m assuming is called You May Kiss the Bride? I don’t know..it’s heavy though! Next up is Angela bringing some long awaited new music from Meshuggah as well as Frayle, Amenra, and Bhleg. Once again bringing up rear guard is Buke, and he’s chock full of great stuff, from the new Haunt single to some real old classic Opeth, Morbid Angel, Ripping Corpse, Autopsy, and finally some truly classic prog in the way of the might Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Not going to lie, there’s some cool stuff out there today.
Like Misery Index, who announced May 13th as the release date for their next album, Complete Control. That will be out through Century Media, with the first single being unveiled in the coming weeks. They’re also on tour with Origin and Wolf Kingthis coming May, so busy times are ahead.
Sundowning, the German post-metal collective, have announced their first album in a decade. In the Light of Defeat, I Cease to Exist will drop on March 25th through Isolation Records. For a glimpse of what’s to come, check out “A Prison, A Cage”, right now.
Tool, a band I shockingly haven’t mentioned in awhile, are releasing Opiate2 to mark its 30th anniversary. That will be out through RCA Records on March 1st, and a short film will follow on the 18th. Pre-order that here.
Twin Temple entertained us today with the new video for “Let’s Have A Satanic Orgy”. They’re currently on tour with Ghost and Volbeat, if you weren’t aware.
And we’ll close with the new track from Absent In Body, titled “Sarin”. The debut album from the project featuring members of Amenra, Neurosis, and Sepultura is set for a March 25th release through Relapse Records. And no, I cannot wait.
Third week in a row where February continues to just pummel us with great music releases. The latest from Australia’s Neptune Power Federation brings the heavy rock and roll swagger my body craves, and then Immolation just wrecks with their signature menacing take on death metal. Good way to kick off the 219th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist, I’d say…
Elsewhere in the ether Vincent slays with some Madame Germen, Battle of Mice and Amenra. Josh shares my joy at the news of new Somali Yacht Club forthcoming, and bridges the old (Dangerous Toys) with the new (Undeath). Ian only has one thing on his mind, and that is the new single from Amon Amarth. Anton is all about Transcending Obscurity this week, bringing both Dischordia and Sisyphean into the playlist. Angela always plays the game hard, and this week is no exception with Health X, Nothing, and Cult of Luna while Buke is always reliable for a wide range of music: this week he throws in Hath, Nuclear Assault, Nails, and ends us with some classic epic prog courtesy of Yes, of all bands.
Is that it? Am I the last one? Dang. Again. Wait, maybe one more to come… Anyway, I guess I’ll start this off on my soapbox as always, by noting that I truly cannot comprehend where we are as a society. Well, I suppose I can, which is even more frustrating. If 2020 wasn’t a brutal enough year (not in a good way), 2021 seemed to serve as an appropriate encore. Seemingly everything we experience in life has been weaponized for political gain in one way or another, a global pandemic has been widely accepted as an endemic thanks, in part, to widespread misinformation, and, just as bluntly, climate disasters resulting from human activity are on the brink of running rampant for the duration of humanity’s remaining existence… however brief that may be. And those are just my three favorite, non-personal, items to discuss in our corner of the universe. It sucks, and I’m burnt out. Optimism has completely faded at this point, and I’m ready to run screaming into the woods. But hey, cheers to 2020, right?!
Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.
2021 did force me to put my writing here on pause for a while. Between the very good and the very bad it was a wild pendulum of a year, and at some point I found myself unable to keep up with all of it. I took time away, as I have been want to do lately. And for the first time in a long time, I feel like that time away really did me some good. I’m not just back here writing a year-end list because I feel like I have to in order to earn my keep, I’m doing it because I feel like I have things to say about the music I loved this year. Because there was a lot to love, and because I managed, somewhere along the way, to find that love again after feeling like it had been fading for the last few years. Between long train rides with old favorites and early mornings with coffee and brand new discoveries, I felt that connection between me and the music I love slowly flowing back. I feel hopeful that that connection will allow me to be able to share more with you all about what it is that makes me light up.
But then, I suppose I should talk about what made that happen for me in 2021, right?