* 8/29 mea culpa: After some robust discussion online I’ve added a new paragraph addressing in part the thorny issue of including “problematic bands” in a list such as this. Providing proper context is always important, and I failed to do that. The fault is mine, and I hope the added commentary helps clarify the choices made.
Ah, social media…where would we complain and spit our vitriol over “Best Of” lists if we didn’t have you? Last week’s ire in a buttercup came from Metal Hammer‘s list of “The 40 Best Black Metal Albums Ever” — a post that at its heart really just outlined 40 really good to great albums influential to the genre over the course of three decades. Compiled and with commentary by Dayal Patterson, a man that knows a thing or two about black metal, the article (I’m guessing titled by parent company Louder/Future Pic to generate more clicks — successfully) instead served as fodder for other sites to call out and complain over as well as get the always sensible metal community to froth at the mouth over what was and wasn’t on a list that in all reality serves as a pretty nice introduction to the early evolution of a now expansive and diverse genre.
Well, for this edition of Nine Circles ov…. we show that we’re not above our own cheap commentary, even if it’s at our own expense… Continue reading
The metal scenes in Europe and the United States have always had a symbiotic relationship. When one scene moves in a particular direction, the other one begins by emulating and then transcending that direction. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was a profound influence on the American thrash metal scene, a scene which would greatly influence musicians all over Europe (e.g. Swedish death metal), and so on. To make a (very) broad generalization: Europe tends to bring the mythology and romantic mystique; America tends to bring a more self-oriented, personal touch.
This is true of the American black metal scene as well. A good introduction to United States Black Metal (USBM) requires an appreciation for the bands that began by directly emulating the stylistic giants of Scandinavia, Switzerland and elsewhere. True, the American scene has gone in all sorts of directions since its development in the mid-to-late 1990s. But listeners should have a sense of context before moving into the specialized realms occupied by death-laden heroes like Goatwhore and Hod, along with the indie/alternative influenced sounds made famous by Wolves in the Throne Room. So with that in mind, enter the Nine Circles ov USBM. Continue reading
You are a whore. You. Reading this. You are a whore. You get nothing in return. I hope you realize that. For all your gluttony and shame you receiv absolutely nothing of positive gain. Your life, at least the real one post-mortem, will be filled with violent treatment and absolute agony. So continue to do what you do. Continue to lead an absolutely laughable existence. You will eventually end up in my lair where there are zero laws. Zero people to protect you. That is when you shall feel the absolute wrath of pain. Continue reading
Almost everything has been said about it that can be said, but I’m saying it again – Mastodon‘s very esteemed, very popular, 2004 album Leviathan catapulted them into the limelight, even more so than their debut Remission. While this may border on hyperbole, Leviathan is the millennial generation’s own Master of Puppets or Screaming for Vengeance. It ushered a new era for Mastodon, but more than that, it brought their proggy brand of sludge-soaked supremacy to a massive audience and embodies the term “modern classic.” Continue reading
It’s hard to say how I will look back on 2015. On a personal level, the last twelve months have been significant. Thanks to the efforts of our Nine Circles team, I have been given the opportunity to explore deeper into the metal universe, uncovering more obscure bands that have significantly impacted my musical life for the better. My position within metal’s audience has undeniably reached a new level, and I have no reason to not be excited about what’s to come. So from that standpoint, 2015 has been a phenomenal year.
That said, looking at metal from a higher perspective, when you compare the last couple of years, it would be difficult to say that 2015 was especially exceptional. The peaks of this past year just don’t quite measure up to those of the preceding year in my opinion. But still, a number of great albums surfaced that I have enjoyed immensely. Overall, this past year has been solid across all genres of metal. So, without further delay, here are my personal favorites from 2015.