The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 284 (5.20.2023)

Another Saturday, another playlist. The difference this time is the sheer amount of killer releases that came out Friday, from the covers EP by Ghost to the new blast of OSDM from Frozen Soul, to the welcome return of Yakuza and the fuzzed out mayhem of Gozu. The 284th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist is a good one, so strap yourselves in and let’s do this.

What else do your ears (and eyes for those who actually watch the videos) have in store with this week’s playlist? Well, we’ve got a bunch of surprises but how about new music from Mutoid Man, Lucifer, Blackbraid, the return of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard making metal and the Cavalera brothers reliving the early days of their former band? All that and more await just a click away.

Get listening. Stay safe. See you next week…

Chris

Retrospective: Enslaved — “Below the Lights”

When recollecting the histories of some of the greatest metal bands there’s often a sink or swim moment following lackluster albums or a musical dead end, where it was a necessity to reinvent themselves in some way (or quite simply release an incredible comeback album) — Metallica went more commercial with The Black Album after the excesses of …and Justice for All, Judas Priest made their glorious return with Painkiller, and Megadeth’s opus Rust in Peace simply blew the rest of their material out of the water. Even if it’s easily the most red-headed stepchild of metal genres in terms of general musical approach (and non-musical controversy), black metal has a number of artists that followed a similar trajectory. Bathory took things in a mythological and epic direction with Hammerheart and beyond, Darkthrone has been inspired by heavy metal and crust punk for nearly two decades now, and Ulver abandoned the genre once they had nothing more to offer it.

This leads us to Enslaved in 2003. After releasing classic albums of black metal’s second wave with Vikingligr veldi and Frost, they began incorporating more and more progressive elements beginning with Mardraum and Monumension; increasingly dynamic song structures and technical playing as well as largely abandoning the relentless blast beats and trem-picking that characterized the early material. However, some of the experimentation on Monumension fell flat in several ways, thus deeming it necessary for the band to take a big next step. After abandoning unnecessary baggage in their lineup Enslaved crafted Below the Lights, an atmospheric, technical, yet beautifully dark and heavy album that defined progressive black metal and paved the way for what might be the most consistent string of releases in extreme metal history. Today is the 20th anniversary of its release, so let’s revisit what makes this monumental album so special.

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The Nine Circles Audio Thing: Enslaved was March 2023’s Album of the Month!

There’s no doubt as to whether or not Enslaved are household names at this point in their career, and have been for quite some time. With the release of Heimdal our back office halls went nuts so it was the obvious choice for the March Album of the Month pick. Well… maybe not obvious as in landslide but close. The rest of that story will surface during this discussion as Buke once again captions the episode alongside several of our usual suspects as they cover this album, catch-up discussions since last time, an enormous section on everything else that tripped their triggers across March, and the usual banter back and forth on literally anything and everything. Pro tip: pack a lunch and a case of beer, this one’s lengthy.

In other words, just another Album of the Month episode of the Nine Circles Audio Thing.

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The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 274 (3.11.2023)

It was one of those weeks, folks. I’ve been heading back to the office more and more, and while the morning commute music starts light and lively at the beginning of the week, but the end I was blasting old school death metal just to fight the madness of the 45 minutes to traverse 6.7 miles and the anticipation of idiots and blow hards for another 10 hours. Man, I forgot how ferocious and full of ideas the old guard was, so we’re opening up the 274th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist with a trifecta of classics from Suffocation, Pestilence, and Nocturnus. Hope it gets your weekend off to a great start.

What’s the rest of the staff listening to? Well, there’s the triumphant return of Yakuza which instantly made my list of most anticipated albums, plus cuts from JAAW, Aphotic, Ihsahn and Ritual Mortis, more old school live from the likes of Kalmah, Sacramentum, and Soilwork, not to mention cuts from Barren Heir, Pharmakon, Gridlink, and Liturgy. More surprises lurk within (like holy shit maybe I’m crazy but this new Winger song ain’t half bad…), but we’re ending with a double-shot of classic Lynyrd Skynyrd. Rest in Peace, Gary Rossington…those early albums will shine forever.

Get listening. Stay safe. See you next week…

Chris

The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 273 (3.4.2023)

We’re creeping ever so close to the release of 72 Seasons, so why not launch this, the 273rd edition of the Nine Circles Playlist, with the latest from Metallica. “If Darkness Had a Son” continues the streak of heavy, catchy as hell songs, and I for one can’t wait for the full album. I’ve been thinking a lot a lately about what we like, and how our tastes are informed by so many things, and I’m slowly getting to the point (or age, most likely) where I don’t give a flying f-ck about what’s cool or hip in a “scene” predicated on gatekeeping in both directions – it’s a drag and bores me to tears. How about this? I’ll like the underground indie band pumping out new and interesting tunes just as much as I dig the major label big boys still keeping things interesting decades later. Deal?

What’s the rest of the staff listening to? Lots of new music from the likes of Aara, Legion of the Damned, Out of the Mouths of Graves, Enslaved, Dawn Ray’d, Henget, Isolant, and Liturgy, not to mention a lot more both new and old, metal, and well…not so metal.

Get listening. Stay safe. See you next week…

Chris