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

Best of 2016: Corey’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

You don’t hear from me much these days because I decided the internet is more of a hindrance to my life than an enhancement. I also think opinions, including my own, are pointless. Regardless, I still like metal. So here is 2016 metal I really like just in case one or two of you out there were curious. Top nine and then nine honorable mentions because I like being thematically consistent. Continue reading

Album Review: Imperium Dekadenz – “Dis Manibvs”

imperium dekadenz-dis manibvs

One of the elements missing from a lot of the writing on black metal is an acknowledgement of the nostalgia that underpins much of the genre. Whether it’s a yearning for a lost golden age of one’s culture, a disgust with modern conventions, or an invocation of a more primal, naturalistic state, black metal sets its gaze towards the past. Perhaps no culture has a greater understanding of the psychological complexities of nostalgia than the Germans. Their language contains words untranslatable into English, like weltschmerz (an emotional exhaustion brought on by knowing that the world can never live up to the promise of the imagination) and sehnsucht (impossible yearning for something achingly familiar that may not actually exist). With this in mind, it makes sense that German black metal amplifies the genre’s already-present nostalgic quality, creating a uniquely identifiable sound that’s both mournful and epic. Continue reading

Initial Descent: August 26, 2016

subrosa band photo
Salt Lake City doom crew SubRosa release their fourth album, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages, via Profound Lore on August 26. (Image courtesy of the band)

Another Friday is upon us, and that means another slew of albums for y’all to digest. Leading the way is Salt Lake City’s SubRosa, who return with their fourth full-length, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages. (I just got my copy through #MetalBandcampGiftClub yesterday and am beyond psyched to dive in.)

We’ve also got a new album from Inquisition that contains a lot of words in its title (even more than SubRosa), as well as stuff from German legends Running Wild, other German legends Sodom and German not-quite-legends-but-still-pretty-damn-goods Imperium Dekadenz. (It’s a big week to be either verbose or German, what can we say?) We’ve got all that and more listed out below, so click that “Read More” link and get to it. Here’s what’s on tap for this week:
Continue reading