This is my first year writing up an honorable mentions list. I really struggled narrowing things down this year (well, I struggle every year) and thought instead of cutting out albums that deserve praise, I would make an additional list. This list is not ranked and because it contains artists that I admire, I also wrote up many of the full-length reviews for these. I have included albums that may not be 100% metal but contain metal elements and are on the heavier side. I also wanted to bring some attention to albums that my lovely colleagues here may not be writing about so we continue our diverse listings. I love that the 9C fam has varying musical tastes and we respect everyone’s opinions. EOY time is our favorite and the lists keep rolling out. Check them out here. This list is very much an Angela list (spoiler alert – a lot of doom and a lot of femme power) and I hope others also enjoy and check out these wonderful artists.
Look, you know me and my old-school love by now. Would anything other than the new Metallica going to kick off this, the 260th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist? “Lux Æterna” sounds like a band enjoying themselves, playing a lost cover from the past as part of their Garage Days series and I for one am here for it. Plus hot off the presses another killer track from the forthcoming Katatonia? 2023 can’t get here fast enough.
Elsewhere the 9C gang brought it home with some truly neck-breaking metal, including Meristem, Confined and Ultimatum from Josh as well as Panopticon, Pianos Become the Teeth, Pyrithe and – breaking the “P” streak – City of Caterpillar from Vincent. New Guy™ Colin brings the heavy with Moribund Dawn, Anaal Nathrakh, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in firm metal mode, while Slightly Older New Guy™ Dan hits us with Heads for the Dead, Boris, Chrome, and Black Dresses. Angela invites you to get dark with Gavran, Chelsea Wolfe and The New Values while in a twist, Anton brings up the rear guard with a pair of killers: Turbid North and Ketha.
Bringing vast, passionate, doom-filled angst, Dutch doom/sludge trio Gavran has emerged with their sophomore album Indistinct Beacon. Fairly new to the metal scene, the band’s debut LP was released in 2020 and their momentum has not ceased. Continuing to develop a listenership, this release is sure to bring many new fans as these five immersive tracks are expertly crafted and executed. With a vocal variety including raspy screams, haunting clean singing, as well as spoken word, the poetic nature of Gavran’s lyrics are beautifully displayed. Doom riffs, palpitating drums with a bassline to match, and screams pack a punch while quieter moments contain echoing vocals and pensive melodies. Each track expands and contracts with the weight of the music and the journey of Indistinct Beacon is something to experience and enjoy.