Happy Walpurgisnacht. That’s a thing with the metal community, right? I can’t keep up with your predilections. I think I hit the wall a few days ago listening to new music, stuff bouncing off me with little to no connection. Does everyone go through this? I’m sure it will come back, but for now I think I’m going to leave the 229th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist to the staff who have been going slow, hard, and deep into the metals for your weekly listening pleasure.
Vincent takes the lead this morning with some new Terzij de Horde and a little nugget from the last Deafheaven album. Then a surprise appearance from our Literati Overlord who has been over the moon with the new single from Saor. He also throws in some Nite, Dark Funeral, and a cut from site fave King Dude. Have you ever known Josh not to bring the ridiculously heavy? This week he comes in hot with Scepticflesh, Black Void, Unholy Pestilence, and Kanine. Anton can always be relied on to present new music, and he doesn’t disappoint with tracks from Spook the Horses, Final Light and Path of Might. Angela looks to challenge Josh for heaviest music with something from the new Mizmor/Thou collaboration, some Primitive Man (making its second appearance in two weeks), and a buzzing dose of punk and hardcore from the great Fucked Up before wrapping with some Astronoid. Finally Buke takes us home with a bevy of songs, including Iron Maiden, Pharmacist, Power Trip, Tom Waits, UFO, and some new Rammstein to close it up.
2021 was…. a bit much. We will take each day at a time cautiously in 2022 and try not to spook it. While 2021 brought a hefty amount of unpredictability and chaos, some wonderful things were forged in the turmoil. This was a really great year for music, and I have many albums that I want to shout about from the rooftop, but I am keeping it concise and calling out my Nine Circles nine (we love a good theme). Once again, I am one of the last of the bunch of wonderful writers here to post my year end list as my indecisiveness and overthinking ruined the party again. However, I did participate in the group list (though my albums have shifted a bit…) and also the Best of 2021 Audio Thing (which was a blast).
Here are my top nine personal favorites as well as a list of honorable mentions and non-metal albums that brought me some joy this past year.
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?
You know I had to do it, so here it is. As I’ve already said, this year was a year that was cram-packed with excellent releases, and the world of non-metal and metal adjacent was no exception, so much so that I almost considered doing another, separate honorable mentions list just for non-metal. The only reason I didn’t is because free time and sanity are at something of an all-time-low, so you’ll forgive me if anything feels like it got left off, because, well, it did. Still, there are plenty of worthy releases here, and if that stirs up your appetite for more, there is plenty else to be found out there. Now, without further ado, here are my favorites, in almost no particular order.