Looking Back on the Tracks: Revisiting Chris’s 2017 Anticipated Records

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Looking backward, what’s interesting isn’t so much how the albums I selected back in January as part of Nine Circles’ 2017 Metal Forecast held up (or didn’t), but how what I was looking for in music at the beginning of 2017 changed and mutated as the year went from bad to worse, from televised and networked insanity to personal tragedy and a gaze into the abyss that was closer than I had ever anticipated at this point in my life.   Revisiting the three albums that actually came out in 2017 now it’s striking how different the things I first imagined would be the draw fell to the wayside as new priorities and impact points made themselves evident.

We look back, and never see what we expect to, I guess.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Power Metal That Eased Me Into Liking Power Metal (Again)

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I find it fascinating that power metal still doesn’t get the fair shake it deserves from the metal community.  The same folks who mock and ridicule bands for dressing up like superheroes in their videos or writing about dragons or Lord of the Rings are the same folks who worship bands who revel in dressing up and running around in the forest in wizard hats or, come to think of it, also write about the Lord of the Rings (or at least derive their name from it). Yet, despite these similar touch points in silliness power metal still has a stigma attached to it, one I admit to having for a time as I became engrossed in the more extreme aspects of metal.

What’s the point, besides my linking to that awesomely ridiculous Immortal video?  It’s that there’s plenty to love in power metal, and the claims of cheese and pomp are no more valid than they are in any other genre in the scene.  For this edition of Nine Circles ov… I wanted to take a look at a few of the bands and albums that brought me back into the fold – many of them introduced to me by former 9C scribe and power metal champion Frank.  So think of these as gateway bands: we’re not going full-on Gloryhammer yet (although Gloryhammer is awesome); the emphasis is on heaviness, aggression and, ultimately, power ¹.   Continue reading

The 2017 Metal Forecast – Chris’s List

Passed-Out New Year's Eve Reveler

I left the hulking beast that was 2016 quietly, careful not to disturb the now fallen giant lest I startle and incur its wrath in those final seconds. Best to be careful: it had been a while since I had a year where the chaos of the outside world match and stoke the rage, doubt, and pain in my insular little life. But for every terrible news item that stabbed into our collective cultural eye there seemed to be another great — no, fantastic — album waiting to echo, share, and ultimately help ease our pain. And I’m not even limiting that to metal: everywhere incredible music was being created and shared, as if somehow deep down we all knew we were going to need it.

All of which goes to say 2017 has a long road ahead of it if it hopes to match the staggering amount of quality releases the previous year offered up for the masses. In a year where seemingly every single one of my favorite bands released something I was initially worried I might not find a lot to look forward to this year. After 10 minutes I had at least two dozen upcoming releases I couldn’t wait to get my hands on (not even including the latest from Black Anvil, which I happily address here). And while I won’t touch on everything, I’ll point out a few albums I’m hoping will stave off the bats and wolves looking for blood in the Year of Our Metal Lord, 2017. Continue reading