Nine Circles ov…FRANCE

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Intentionally terrible Photoshop job courtesy of yours, truly.

By now, most of y’all are probably aware that the 2018 World Cup has concluded. On Sunday afternoon, France capped off a dominant tournament run by beating Croatia, 4-2, in the final. And while we’re not still dopey enough to commemorate the occasion with something like the “World Cup of Metal,” (Remember that? Gross.) we also weren’t going to let it go completely unnoticed. Hence, here we are with The Nine Circles ov France!

Side note before we begin: as much as I wanted Croatia to win it all, I also know exactly one Croatian metal band. (This one.) So, having preemptively claimed this post before the game, I’m low-key THRILLED that France and its comparably enormous metal scene ended up victorious. Okay, I’ll shut up now. Here we go… Continue reading

Best of 2016: Dan’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

So yeah, this year sure sucked in a lot of ways, didn’t it?

On a personal level…where to begin? My family said goodbye to our beloved dog, Bailey. I had a rough breakup at the end of April. I got into a deeper rut in my professional life than I’d ever experienced before, which culminated in me quitting my job and leaving New York. I also, briefly, quit Nine Circles. (You didn’t think I’d stay away for good though, did you?)

And that’s just my stuff! Beyond that…well, for starters, pretty much everyone died. Prince, Alan Rickman, Phife Dawg, Craig Sager…I mean, you kind of had to know 2016 was going to be shitty on that front after we lost David goddamn Bowie when the year was scarcely a week old. And that’s all to say nothing of the other shit: escalation of racial tensions across the country, continued apathy toward a changing climate, Christmas Eve / Day and New Year’s Eve / Day both falling on Saturdays and Sundays…it was a lot, man. Oh, and we also elected the personification of an Internet comment section to the presidency. That was neat.

In spite of all that, 2016 wound up being a goddamn banner year for metal. When I first started thinking about this list, I was envisioning maybe a Top 15 – but that quickly grew to a Top 25, and then to its current incarnation: a Top 50, with 20 “ranked” albums and 30 honorable mentions, not to mention EPs. It was just impossible to whittle it down any further; that’s how good metal was this year. Hell, I had a number of albums that featured in my mid-year list that didn’t even make it into the honorable mentions section of this one!

Make no mistake, this year would have felt exponentially shittier without all of those records. In times like these, cueing up a metal record that’s driving you bonkers, throwing your head back and howling at the moon kind of becomes essential to maintaining your sanity. And you know what? Sanity was maintained. (Well, mine at least…I dunno about America’s. All the more reason for America to start listening to more damn metal.)

This year may have thrown every possible pile of feces it could at us, but you know what? We made it through anyway. We’re still here and it’s not. And that’s nothing to turn our noses at. Here are the records that helped make that happen for me:  Continue reading

Initial Descent: October 30 – November 5, 2016

Dark Tranquility
Dark Tranquillity

Well, it’s November all of a sudden and we are hours away from the dreaded time change, aka HELL. But also, mere days away from the election and hopefully all of the bitterness and vitriol will subside once this is over, maybe? Or maybe not? Anyway, on to the matter at hand, new metal to be exact. And — as usual — we have you covered here on Initial Descent. Melodic death metal veterans Dark Tranquillity return with their triumphant eleventh full length Atoma, Cóndor evokes classic heavy metal on Sangreal, on Utter the Tongue of the Dead, Void Meditation Cult scare the hell out of everyone with their extremely blackened death metal (yes, this tag is actually warranted for once), Vader keep the flame of death metal burning on The Empire, HammerFall continue their tradition of glorious power metal on Built To Last, and Deathspell Omega thankfully jumped the gun with the digital release of their glorious black metal EP, The Synarchy of Molten Bones. All that and much more to come, after the jump. Continue reading

Manny’s Magical Genre Guide: Black Metal

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Iconic photo from the basement of Euronymous’s record shop Helvete located in Norway. The basement housed his independent record label “Deathlike Silence Productions”

Directly from the depths of hellish, white teen angst was born the fiery brand of metal known simply as “black metal.” Exactly who coined the term first and which band used it properly is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is how pervasive the genre has been in extreme metal since the early 1980s. While developing mostly in Scandinavia the movement has eventually spread into Europe proper, Asia, the Balkans and the Americas—becoming a global phenomenon. Associated with black metal are plenty of non-musical elements including the legendary use of corpse paint, stage names and extreme secrecy as well as some illegal activities such as church burning, violent assault and murder. It should be noted that while plenty of black metal has been heavily criticized for its white power, Nazi-like lyrics and penchant for hate (more on that later) that doesn’t define the genre nor limit the thematic leanings. Continue reading

Sepulchral Saturday: Imperial Triumphant – “Abyssal Gods”

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People like to ask where you were when something monumental happens, like when some national event occurred or you found out that you are about to have a baby with your significant other. I am sure that I was linked to Imperial Triumphant‘s newest album, Abyssal Gods, by one of the many, many metal bloggers that I follow. I cannot remember what I was doing or who alerted me to them, as that mundane information was immediately overshadowed by the music. I knew nothing about this band when I first clicked play, but as soon as I did, I knew within seconds that I was listening to one of my favorite releases of the year.  Continue reading