I always have a tough time with these introduction things when it comes to End of Year lists. The temptation is to sum up the year with some anecdotes about what it meant to me and how the music I loved played into it. Yet what could I say about a year that was such a mixed bag for me? On a personal note, my mental health took an all-out nosedive last year that I’m still trying to claw my way out of, yet my partner and I got engaged and are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together (not that we weren’t already, but you get the point). The weight of the worst depression and anxiety I’ve ever faced affected my ability to connect to a lot of the music I heard last year, yet I started a column on here that lead me back to a genre of music I had not seriously kept up with for some time, and in doing so I found a little piece of myself again. Years are years are years, and life is cyclical and spiralic in nature. I won’t pretend there weren’t good things to come out of last year, just as I won’t pretend there won’t be hard times in the year ahead. But I will always have a carefully curated soundtrack to help me along the way, and below represents what helped me get through 2019. Continue reading →
By now, it has become customary for me to recall at the turn of the year how great the past 12 months were for metal and its myriad sub-genres and styles, and how difficult it has become to keep one’s head above the water in the face of the deluge of releases. I have been listening to metal for over 25 years but am still astonished and impressed on a daily basis by the boundless imagination on display, be it the ever-blossoming creativity of bands who have been operating for 20 years or the ravenous appetite of newcomers. Continue reading →
As I sit here writing out this 2019 list quite literally on New Year’s Eve (I swear I’m later and later with this post every year), I look back a bit and realize that 2019 was pretty much insane. Sure, we’re burning the Earth alive and democracy here is pretty much dead, but from a narrower lens, there were some positives. From a selfish standpoint, 2019 kicked ass. We should all look at the world with a greater perspective, and share in the trials and tribulations the world is going through and aspire for better… for everyone. But within all that, for the sake of sanity, it’s also healthy to look back on personal achievements and moments with some pride. And that’s where I’m at right now. Continue reading →
This is my fourth End of Year List for Nine Circles, and the more the music changes, the more the sentiment stays the same. With each new dance partner our hands clasp; our eyes lock and I see and hear and ask the same thing: What does this do for me? What does it mean? Why this, and not something else?
I tried to spend this year answering those questions, particularly the last one. In a year where I finally acknowledged that – while still important and cherished – metal was no longer the driving musical force in my life, I wanted to understand why the metal that I was drawn to impacted me. What was it about the way this riff, or that vocal line, or that lyric touched me in a way maybe some other song, track, or album didn’t? Continue reading →