Rainbows in the Dark: Ian’s Best of 2020 List for Nonmetal

Best of 2020

This past year has seen some of the most exhilarating and emotionally deep metal that I’ve seen in a while, but what about the non-metal side of things?  Well, fortunately we’ve had just as many pleasant surprises on that front, and just as much music that will ultimately be talked about for years to come.  It bears repeating that I am humbled that I am in the position to be able to talk at length about all of this, and boy there sure is a lot to talk about.  From deep, brooding atmosphere to technical wizardry to lo-fi indie glory, polished folk and everything in between, there’s a lot to get into, so strap in as we bring you the very best of all things non-metal and metal adjacent.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Mizmor and Andrew Black — “Dialetheia”

mizmor andrew black dialetheia

“Unprecedented times.”  The phrase we’ve all seen more than we care to in the last nine months.  From email greetings to official press briefings, there is ample reminder at every turn that what we as a collective are going through right now is something many people never even imagined.  The loss of tangible connections to the communities we had built for ourselves, especially in times that are already turbulent enough on their own, is perhaps the most devastating aspect of having to shelter in place in the middle of a pandemic, and musicians, for whom community is both their raison d’etre and their livelihoods, have been feeling this loss harder than many other people have.  Yet in our strange age where physical presence is a danger, we are more connected to each other than ever before through our technology, allowing many to find the kinship they seek and a shared purpose to keep their artistic visions alive.  Thus, did A.L.N. and Andrew Black, founder and live bassist for Portland, OR’s Mizmor respectively, share a vision for an album created by and for our unprecedented times, a colossal ambient work called Dialetheia.  

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Best of 2019: Vincent’s List

Best of 2019

I always have a tough time with these introduction things when it comes to End of Year lists.  The temptation is to sum up the year with some anecdotes about what it meant to me and how the music I loved played into it.  Yet what could I say about a year that was such a mixed bag for me?  On a personal note, my mental health took an all-out nosedive last year that I’m still trying to claw my way out of, yet my partner and I got engaged and are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together (not that we weren’t already, but you get the point).  The weight of the worst depression and anxiety I’ve ever faced affected my ability to connect to a lot of the music I heard last year, yet I started a column on here that lead me back to a genre of music I had not seriously kept up with for some time, and in doing so I found a little piece of myself again.  Years are years are years, and life is cyclical and spiralic in nature.  I won’t pretend there weren’t good things to come out of last year, just as I won’t pretend there won’t be hard times in the year ahead.  But I will always have a carefully curated soundtrack to help me along the way, and below represents what helped me get through 2019.   Continue reading

Best of 2019: Dan still likes metal, but maybe not writing?

Best of 2019

Oh look, it’s been over a month since my last post.

Related: I don’t really know if I like blog writing anymore?

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Best of 2019: Angela’s List

Best of 2019

Most of us are eager to dart into 2020 and leave 2019 in our wakes.  While I’m ready for a fresh start and a new year, I want to linger in 2019 a little longer to savor the musical releases.  Many wonderful albums were released this year which made narrowing down and ranking my top picks a challenge.  The albums that ended up on this list are albums that resonated with me—albums that I kept revisiting, I kept blasting through headphones, and kept giving me goosebumps.

I decided to pick 9 albums in honor of Nine Circles and this wonderful community that welcomed me in this year.  Let’s dive in! Continue reading