Nine Circles ov…Ian’s Mid-Year Favorites

I’ve really been itching to do a mid-year round-up for a while now, but I have a little bit of reservation about it.  Mostly, I don’t really want to spoil anything for the end of the year, because it’s usually around this time that I find the one or two albums that I KNOW are going to top my December list, and this year feels no different.  You gotta wait if you want the goods, but in the meantime, this edition of Nine Circles ov… is a list, in no particular order, of albums that I have been really enjoying this year.  Some are metal, some are non-metal, some may keep their position until the end of the year and some might end up as honorable mentions, but none of them are the absolute top.  Sorry, no spoilers, but these are still fantastic albums well worth the repeated listens I have given them.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Blood Incantation — “Timewave Zero”


Blood Incantation should need no introduction to readers of this column, being one of death metal’s most luminary forces in recent years, but astute followers of the Colorado four-piece have known that they have always been so much more than a mere death metal band. Timewave Zero lays bare the often occluded side of the band, stripping away all semblance of metal entirely to revel in cosmic, new age ambiance, creating a meditative soundscape that offers a perfect place to reflect, particularly for me on the nature of relationships and musical identity that become challenged when a band makes such a dramatic shift as this.

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Blood Incantation on new album “Timewave Zero,” presenting ambient music as a band effort, the Colorado scene, and much more!

blood incantation band 2022
Photo by Alvino Sacedo

What can you say that hasn’t already been said about the guys in Blood Incantation? Whether it’s their incredibly deep and sprawling slabs of death metal like Starspawn or Hidden Histories of the Human Race or their other musical endeavors that read like a primer of the best extreme metal of the last 10 years (Spectral Voice, Stormkeep, Wayfarer)…it seems no matter what they put their hands in, it comes out righteous and heavy. So it’s no surprise that their latest left turn, the ambient experiment Timewave Zero manages to retain the signature sound of the band even as it stretches into the furthest reaches of space without the raging riffs of down-tuned guitars to power it. We sat down with 3/4 of the band (Isaac, Paul and Morris) to discuss how the collaborative process works when you’re creating an ambient record, the close-knit nature of the Colorado scene, keeping riffs fresh and alive in a world where almost everything has already been done, and so much more (just wait until the episode shifts to the majesty of Gorguts).

This is a killer conversation that just reinforces how vital and essential Blood Incantation is to the extreme metal scene, so put down that fidget spinner, grab your beverage of choice and settle in for a wicked edition of the Nine Circles Audio Thing.

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Initial Descent: February 20 – 26, 2022


Did you catch the latest chapter in the annals of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre universe last Friday? No? Well, I’m not spoiling it for anyone that hasn’t so don’t ask. Here’s a couple more recommendations: Antlers and Titane. Do it. Moving on, new releases abound across the frozen metal tundra and this week’s list kicks off with Corpsegrinder’s solo effort of blood dripping, meat and potatoes death metal that literally is music to my ears, some pretty damn epic death / doom from Soliloquium, Blood Incantation go space truckin’ (cosmic ambient in case you missed the clue), Allegaeon test the boundaries of their own brand of tech death, and a TON more in the list below. I could’ve easily went ten deep at the top this week, lots of quality here so definitely go chuck some cash out at these artists. Happy hunting.

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CANTO: Blood Incantation, Helloween, Behemoth, and More

And on this day, we drink bourbon.

“Ein Bier… bitte.”