Best of 2021: Chris’s List

Best of 2021

The beginning is the end. Literally, in this case. I started this post with the entries for my list a few weeks ago, wrote my 1,000 word review (sorry) on my Album of the Year and concluding paragraph right before Christmas, and now here I am in the vaporous ether before the new year pondering the introduction.

And there are no words left.

I’ve wrangled with the why, trying to make sense of the music I consume and what it says, and I hit a point where trying to find an answer was…pointless. Not because it’s unimportant to know, but in the last two years the rest of the world became so much harder to deal with, life became so much harder to deal with, something in my brain went into emergency mode and just shut down the logic circuits, sending one single message over and over again:

“Stop thinking, stupid. It’s just music.”

Continue reading

Nine (or so Heavily Qualified) Circles ov…2021: A Mid-Year Report

2021 mid-year report

Wait…so the guy who only wrote a total of 10 freakin’ reviews this year thinks he has any weight when it comes to a mid-year report? Well, uh…I guess that’s why I put the “heavily qualified” in the title of this post?

But seriously, I’ll be the first to admit that metal hasn’t really been my #1 go-to when it comes to music lately, but like everything else, what you see on the Internet never tells you the whole story. I haven’t been writing nearly as much about the genre lately, but I have been listening. Listening, and refining. Finding the things that really resonate despite the press and the push of PR, or what the pundits tell you on the 1,001 other sites out there scrambling for clicks. And what I’ve discovered is that more and more I’m coming to the sounds that drew me to the genre: thrash riffs, lots of melody, and tasty solos. So yeah: expect some old school bands putting out great records more than 30 years into their existence here. And maybe a few newer bands as well.

Is that qualified enough for ya? Then let’s dig in.

Continue reading

Second Circle: Bloody Hammers and Miserable

In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.

Happy 2021! Everything is fine! I swear! At least in terms of music everything seems to be fine. Right when I was thinking there wouldn’t be anything of note to grab my ears in January (sorry, but Tribulation still fails to do anything for me, so we’ll let others on the site rave) up pops two bands that trade in the kind of music that instantly strikes a chord in my metal heart. So let’s use this edition of Second Circle to the sinister pomp of Bloody Hammers and the killer old school thrash of Miserable

Continue reading

Best of 2016: Paul Ravenwood from Twilight Fauna

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

Today we have the pleasure of featuring a Best of 2016 list from Twilight Fauna‘s mastermind Paul Ravenwood. These lists are always fun but having the opportunity to see what an artist of Paul’s caliber has been listening to and subsequently loved enough to do this is a treat for us and will be for you as well. You know how these things work so read on — after the jump — to find out what he has in store. Continue reading

Rainbows in the Dark: Miserable – “Uncontrollable”

Kristina Esfandiari is not only the voice behind the lovely and forlorn King Woman (and a one-time member of Whirr). She also has been working hard on her solo project, Miserable. Her voice is effortless, airy and full of depressive beauty. Her work with Miserable is not merely, as the name suggests, mono-dimensional sadness. Rather, Miserable creates a depressive and emotional landscape using minimalist instrumentation, layered vocals, plenty of reverb and Kristina Esfandiari’s best weapon: her incomparable voice. And the debut LP, Uncontrollable is a majestic undertaking of emotional depth and fortitude. Continue reading