Embracing the Descent: April 7 – 13, 2019

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Welcome back to another edition of Embracing the Descent and another opportunity to catch some molten nuggets from this week’s incoming metal. If it’s your first visit, we briefly discuss a handful of the current week’s new releases that stood out for whatever reason and maybe, from time to time, a week behind but who’s counting. We won’t be hitting everything because no one wants to read a 40 – 60 entry piece and who’s got that kind of time anyway. Don’t forget to check out the full listing from Monday’s Initial Descent. Before you go, leave us a comment if you have thoughts or gripes or something we should be listening to.  Continue reading

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 So Far: Dan’s List

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It’s been a busy half-year. After promising myself in January that I’d take it easy in 2016 and be more selective with the music I listened to, I proceeded to listen to roughly 125 albums in the first six months of the year. (You know, after listening to 170 all of 2015 and thinking that was too much.)

At any rate, I’ve done enough of these over the years for you to know the drill. I’m doing a Top 10, followed by 10 honorable mentions. A full sixth of my album listening in one post? So be it. As always, I’ll keep the blurbs for each album brief so as not to become tedious. Yada yada yada. Now let’s jump into the list…

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Best of 2016, Q1: Literati Overlord’s List

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I can’t really decide how I feel about 2016 in terms of new metal just yet. The albums that have impressed me — and I mean really impressed me — are among some of the best works I’ve heard in years. But then on the other hand, those were rather limited in number and much of the rest was ‘good-not-great’. Regardless, quarterly recap time is always a blast, so I’m excited about the end of Q1 either way.

The one thing I will note before getting into my list is the diversity in quality metal from the past few months. While 2015 saw black metal rise to the top for the majority of the year, I have already been more impressed by various death, doom, and folk metal outfits, making 2016’s Q1 list far more diverse than last year’s. And that’s just good fun for everyone. Anyway, I don’t want to ramble anymore than I already have. Let’s get on with it. Continue reading

The Nine Circles ov… January 2016

Photo courtesy of our Dæmoness of Design, Jaci Raia.
Photo courtesy of our Dæmoness of Design, Jaci Raia. For more of her beautiful work follow her on Instagram.

January saw a TON of killer releases. In fact, early 2016 has me believing that this year might be the best overall year for metal releases that we have seen in some time. So today I decided to take a look back at January and mention nine releases that you may have missed but should absolutely take the time to get to know better. This should be a monthly piece moving forward. Each month I will recap nine releases from the prior month that were well wroth checking out. Obviously this list isn’t conclusive and it might not always just be THE BEST music. If it was merely the best music released Chthe’ilist’s debut Le Dernier Crépuscule would be above and away the #1. The idea is to present music that flew somewhat under the radar in relation to how simply great it is.  Continue reading