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.
Within the last two years or so, I’ve come to enjoy taking a long, hard look at my own biases when it comes to music I like and don’t like. I have a long-form rambling manifesto on the topic of progressive metal from a while back to that effect, but that is not where this self-interrogation begins or ends. I have been finding a lot of albums lately that I love despite their being played in a style of metal that I don’t generally gravitate towards, and this brings me another chance to shine a light into the cobweb-strewn corners of what’s left of my brain and grill myself about two albums that could each conceivably be called ‘blackened death metal’, although both choose to do something wildly different with that prompt. With that, I bring you something old, and something new…
On their debut Of Rot and Ruin, Hath stunned a crowded death metal landscape with their brutal Opethesque take on it. Now, three years and a pandemic later, All That Was Promised is even better with tighter songwriting, even more razor sharp riffs than before, and an incredibly apocalyptic atmosphere. In two albums, Hath has reached a level that most bands take years to develop. Just on the heels of the new album’s release, Buke had the chance to chat with vocalist and guitarist Frank Albanese about the new album and how the band dealt with the extremely high bar they set three years ago, how it’s been working with Willowtip Records and how that union came to be, Bandcamp and the Epic Games recent purchase of same, how Frank learned to play guitar, and some of Frank’s and the band’s history in the Jersey scene. They also cover one of Frank’s favorite albums of 2021, video games, album art, giving black metal artists free ideas, and a ton more.
This is an epic length conversation, so grab your beverage of choice and settle in for another edition of the Nine Circles Audio Thing.
I wish I could say that with the arrival of March, we are also welcoming renewed optimism that comes with the more pleasant weather of the turning seasons. Alas, as we pivot from one global disaster to the next, there really isn’t much time for that perspective. As Chris said last week, tyrants are gonna tyrant… and I’ll add on that oligarchs are gonna oligarch.
So on that note, we’ll usher in an absolutely stacked playlist this week to distract ourselves from the world around us, even if just for a moment. Major props to all our contributors this week, a list of wonderful folks that obviously doesn’t include me. Again. The lineup this week contains everything from Drab Majesty to Absent In Body (a project that I am incredibly excited about), with highlighted new material from Hath and Ithaca. I need to point out that I’m super stoked that Josh made the decision to include the “Screaming for Vengeance” cover from Two Minutes to Late Night, and that Buke rounded us out with one of my favorite Triptykon tracks ever. It’s an awesome list, is what I’m saying.
You know what to do at this point. Press play. Get loud. And please, be well to each other.
As the world keeps laying dull turds at our feet, the music just gets better and better. At least there’s that. For this week’s new release batch, we’ve got several examples of my previous statement and first up is everyone’s favorite demon rocker, Midnight, who are nothing if not incredibly reliable when it comes to needing something fast, dangerous, and wickedly good. Following that we’ve got sludge from the all time great riff lords Crowbar, death metal with a side of blackened char from Hath, a stunning return from Vio-Lence who prove they haven’t lost a thrashy step in all these years, and a bunch more worthy of your time in the list that follows. So, keep expecting those turds, but absolutely keep supporting great music. Seemingly, it only gets better from here.
Third week in a row where February continues to just pummel us with great music releases. The latest from Australia’s Neptune Power Federation brings the heavy rock and roll swagger my body craves, and then Immolation just wrecks with their signature menacing take on death metal. Good way to kick off the 219th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist, I’d say…
Elsewhere in the ether Vincent slays with some Madame Germen, Battle of Mice and Amenra. Josh shares my joy at the news of new Somali Yacht Club forthcoming, and bridges the old (Dangerous Toys) with the new (Undeath). Ian only has one thing on his mind, and that is the new single from Amon Amarth. Anton is all about Transcending Obscurity this week, bringing both Dischordia and Sisyphean into the playlist. Angela always plays the game hard, and this week is no exception with Health X, Nothing, and Cult of Luna while Buke is always reliable for a wide range of music: this week he throws in Hath, Nuclear Assault, Nails, and ends us with some classic epic prog courtesy of Yes, of all bands.