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: Zyklonius’ List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

I am writing this intro blurb on Christmas eve, on Lemmy’s birthday and almost exactly a year after his death. Today, the largest newspaper in Finland published a fascinating article discussing Lemmy’s life (unfortunately in Finnish). The article’s lead paragraph notes the failure of humanity to carry on without Lemmy and the shockwave his death created, paving the way for 2016 in all its depressing grimness. Continue reading

Best of 2016: Vincent Martinek’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

Hey all. This has been a great year for music, made better because I got to share so much of my thoughts about what I was hearing with you, alongside the rest of the Nine Circles crew. It’s been a pleasure to work with some of the most talented people I’ve had the honor to know. Thanks to Dan and Corey for getting me started, to Josh Stewart for being a phenomenal editor, and to all the amazing people I do this with whose writing inspired me to better my own. Here’s to many more. And now that the sap is out of the way, on to the tunes.

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Album Review: Mare Cognitum – “Luminiferous Aether”

marecognitum

Mankind’s fascination with space has been well documented across various forms of art for as long as art has been documented, and heavy metal music is no exception. The immense beauty and terrifying scope of the universe beyond our atmosphere has drawn the attention of artists across the extreme music spectrum, from black metal institutions like Darkspace to death metal’s newest (and arguably brightest) stars Blood Incantation. Since 2011, Lake Forest, CA’s Mare Cognitum has been making his mark on the world of black metal using these same cosmic mysteries as a thematic approach, and his new offering, Luminiferous Aether is not only his best work yet, but a serious contender for album of the year. Continue reading

Initial Descent: September 11 – 17, 2016

High Spirits
High Spirits
Welcome to another Initial Descent and yet another stacked batch of releases. Hopefully you spent yesterday getting a head start because there’s enough on tap here to keep most anyone busy. We all could use some happiness so do yourself, and those around you, a favor and check out High Spirit‘s latest full length Motivator. On the opposite spectrum, if you just recovered from Subrosa’s latest dive into Light Falls from Wrekmeister Harmonies and keep that heavy yet somber feeling alive. Blister your eardrums with Cara Neir and Wildspeaker‘s latest Split on Broken Limbs Recordings, who actually have several out this week that warrant your time. Sumerlands debut Sumerlands deeply satisfies the traditional heavy metal craving and Mare Cognitum returns with their hypnotizing take on atmospheric black metal with Luminiferous Aether. All that and much more so click that “continue reading” link. Continue reading