The Nine Circles ov…80s Death Metal

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In any form of art, there’s something magical about the “early works,” those seminal points of origin that set the course for wider narrative. It’s like the moment when the archaeologist finds and examines the fossil that ties together the map of disparate species. Or like the literary researcher who finally reaches the shelf with all the old texts, dusts them off and sets to work. Early extreme metal is a lot like this. There’s that turn around 1985 when you hear bands start to pull away from classical heavy metal. The guitar and bass picking patterns change, the vocals begin to lose their pitch, and the double-bass drum steadily becomes more important. Certain records appear and you realize, “wait, this isn’t really thrash anymore is it?” Buckle up and ride with us through The Nine Circles ov…80s Death Metal. Continue reading

Unholy Divers: Atheist

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Welcome to the first edition of Unholy Divers, a new series here at Nine Circles where we immerse ourselves in the discographies of bands we should be more familiar with, but for whatever reasons, just aren’t.

Admit it: we’ve all had those conversations with other metalheads where we pretend to be experts on a band – you know, because metal cred, guys – but actually know next to nothing about them. (Okay, this isn’t just a metal-specific occurrence.) You know how it goes – lots of “oh, yeah,” and “definitely, dude,” but hardly any actual knowledge of the artist or their music. With the wealth of music available to us, it’s just bound to happen; nobody can possibly listen to everything. (Except maybe the human encyclopedias over at Last Rites.)

Unholy Divers is our attempt to close these knowledge gaps. Each time out, we’ll take a deep dive (ha-ha) into a different band’s catalogue – studio albums, EPs, singles, splits, you name it – and hopefully give ourselves a better sense of what exactly the cool kids have been talking about for all these years. And then, we’ll write about it.

So without any further ado, let’s jump into our first band…  Continue reading

Album Review: Polyptych – “Defying the Metastasis”

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It’s not even June yet, but let’s go ahead and call it in the air: For those of us into music of the heavy and angry sort, 2016 is death metal’s year. While 2015 offered some scattered gems, death metal of all sorts just came roaring out of the gate from the beginning of 2016. Chicago-based Polyptych add to its formidable ranks with their third independent album, Defying the Metastasis, which continues the year’s progression in technical, forward-thinking death metal that is not short on brutal riffs, unorthodox songwriting, and an inventiveness that establishes them as a distinct voice in a very crowded (but excellent) scene.   Continue reading

Album Review: Zealotry – “The Last Witness”

zealotry-thelastwitness-2100pxAfter 2013’s well-received debut effort The Charnel Expanse, Boston-based death metal outfit Zealotry return triumphantly with their sophomore effort The Last Witness. Steeped in the winding, progressive, and experimental side of the genre, The Last Witness is an absolute monster of a record. Equally utilizing the technical finesse of Gorguts and Atheist, the alien atmosphere of Demilich, and the dissonant, off-kilter guitar work of early Immolation, Zealotry have crafted an album that is just as immediately satisfying as it is intricate and, upon subsequent listens, reveals more of itself to listeners and proves to be far more than the sum of its parts.  Continue reading

Album Review: Nucleus – “Sentient”

nucleus coverFor all of the old-school death metal bands that seem to be coming out of the woodwork right now, it’s become clear that most of them veer toward one specific “school” of death metal: The angular, bizarrely dissonant strain of the Finns; the romping, darkly melodic buzzsaw tones of the Swedes; or the American school that is based more on its strong sense of rhythm with some technical finesse. Chicago-based Nucleus, though, seem to draw from every aspect of old death metal on their debut Sentient while never getting bogged down in useless nostalgia. It does have its faults, but overall, Sentient is a very interesting melting pot of influences with enough of an original (read: sci-fi!) twist to certainly distinguish Nucleus from similar outfits.  Continue reading