Looking Back on the Tracks: Revisiting Chris’s 2017 Anticipated Records

railways tracks

Looking backward, what’s interesting isn’t so much how the albums I selected back in January as part of Nine Circles’ 2017 Metal Forecast held up (or didn’t), but how what I was looking for in music at the beginning of 2017 changed and mutated as the year went from bad to worse, from televised and networked insanity to personal tragedy and a gaze into the abyss that was closer than I had ever anticipated at this point in my life.   Revisiting the three albums that actually came out in 2017 now it’s striking how different the things I first imagined would be the draw fell to the wayside as new priorities and impact points made themselves evident.

We look back, and never see what we expect to, I guess.   Continue reading

The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 20: EOY Edition (12.4.2017)

NINE-CIRCLES_LOGO-Light Background_SQUARE

Since we are closing in on the final few weeks of the year and ‘best of’ list season has begun, for this edition of the Nine Circles Playlist each of us picked a select few of our favorite songs from 2017. Some of these are from albums that didn’t quite hit the mark, as a whole, but had that one particular song or set of songs that warranted an extra high play count. And some of these have been included here even though you may see them again in list form — or maybe not, only time will tell. As usual, expect a wide variety of picks contained in this playlist so, grab a cup of coffee and journey through this collection with us. Oh and feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section to tell us why or why not these songs ruled or didn’t. Continue reading

Initial Descent: July 23 – 29, 2017

Couch Slut
Couch Slut – pic courtesy of Roger Hayn

It’s hot folks, summertime is definitely upon us. Which means it’s time to make shorts out of those raggedy jeans you’ve been hanging onto for no apparent reason. Or you could find some water, a cooler full of cold refreshments or sit in front of a fan. One thing’s for sure though: we have the soundtrack to however you plan to deal with that case of swamp-ass on this plentiful edition of Initial Descent. Starting things off with a nasty, noisy bang is the second full length, Contempt, from Couch Slut and if you’ve yet to hear it I honestly don’t know what you’re doing with your life — this thing rules in so many ways. Next up is Byzantine who quite literally show just how blistering modern heavy metal can be on The Cicada Tree. Moving along, Less Art gives us a bleak but extremely powerful post-hardcore debut on Strangled Light — an outstanding experience from start to finish that does exactly as its title implies. Closing out the top spots is the vicious second EP, Voima on Oikeutta, from Finland’s satanically inclined death/thrash phenoms Huoripukki. So, a fantastic week already but you have no idea how much more great metal is in store (seriously, this week is STACKED) — kick back, cool off, stay awhile and enjoy… Continue reading

Album Review: Byzantine – “The Cicada Tree”

Byzantine_-_The_Cicada_Tree

I understand the desire to label West Virginia’s Byzantine underdogs.  Rising up in the midsts of what I guess will be forever known as the New Wave of American Heavy Metal, they took flight alongside acts like Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and their local brothers Lamb of God with a trio of popular albums before somewhat imploding in 2008 thanks not only to the changing scene but strife within the industry and the band itself.  You can paint that picture, and talk about being overshadowed by larger acts, but let me tell you a different story, one that ends with how The Cicada Tree, the band’s latest and first for Metal Blade, is not only tied for the best album they’ve released to date, but is an adrenaline-fueled highlight of 2017.   Continue reading

The 2017 Metal Forecast – Chris’s List

Passed-Out New Year's Eve Reveler

I left the hulking beast that was 2016 quietly, careful not to disturb the now fallen giant lest I startle and incur its wrath in those final seconds. Best to be careful: it had been a while since I had a year where the chaos of the outside world match and stoke the rage, doubt, and pain in my insular little life. But for every terrible news item that stabbed into our collective cultural eye there seemed to be another great — no, fantastic — album waiting to echo, share, and ultimately help ease our pain. And I’m not even limiting that to metal: everywhere incredible music was being created and shared, as if somehow deep down we all knew we were going to need it.

All of which goes to say 2017 has a long road ahead of it if it hopes to match the staggering amount of quality releases the previous year offered up for the masses. In a year where seemingly every single one of my favorite bands released something I was initially worried I might not find a lot to look forward to this year. After 10 minutes I had at least two dozen upcoming releases I couldn’t wait to get my hands on (not even including the latest from Black Anvil, which I happily address here). And while I won’t touch on everything, I’ll point out a few albums I’m hoping will stave off the bats and wolves looking for blood in the Year of Our Metal Lord, 2017. Continue reading