Second Circle: Hammers of Misfortune and Arrayan Path

In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.

If there’s a theme to this edition of Second Circle, it’s that I’m so bogged down trying to get my usual massive and way overdone end of year list(s) ready that I can’t find the time to do proper in-depth reviews for both of the albums featured today. Which happens to be the latest from Hammers of Misfortune and Arrayan Path.

So let’s do this.

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CANTO: Municipal Waste, Delain, Bury Tomorrow, and More


Boston day tomorrow, which means you’re rid of me until Thursday.

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
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Initial Descent: November 27 – December 3, 2022

Qrixkuor
Qrixkuor – images courtesy of Factotum Photography, Vika // Imago Mortis & Lukas Guidet

I’ll assume we all made it out of the holiday weekend with just a few pounds gained and no bodily harm due to drunken turkey frying or Black Friday. I did say assume, so there’s that. One month to go until we turn the page on 2022 and we’ve STILL got heaters landing; this week gives us frozen death from Qrixkuor, black metal of the avantgarde sort from Veilburner, thrash from Hammers of Misfortune, straightforward black metal from T.O.M.B., and more in the list that follows. So, go forth in your carb comas and pick up some of these. Happy hunting and see you here throughout the week.

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CANTO: Hammers of Misfortune, Black Anvil, Powerwolf, and More

There was significantly more going on today. Let’s take a look…

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
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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