Nine Circles ov…Power Metal That Eased Me Into Liking Power Metal (Again)

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I find it fascinating that power metal still doesn’t get the fair shake it deserves from the metal community.  The same folks who mock and ridicule bands for dressing up like superheroes in their videos or writing about dragons or Lord of the Rings are the same folks who worship bands who revel in dressing up and running around in the forest in wizard hats or, come to think of it, also write about the Lord of the Rings (or at least derive their name from it). Yet, despite these similar touch points in silliness power metal still has a stigma attached to it, one I admit to having for a time as I became engrossed in the more extreme aspects of metal.

What’s the point, besides my linking to that awesomely ridiculous Immortal video?  It’s that there’s plenty to love in power metal, and the claims of cheese and pomp are no more valid than they are in any other genre in the scene.  For this edition of Nine Circles ov… I wanted to take a look at a few of the bands and albums that brought me back into the fold – many of them introduced to me by former 9C scribe and power metal champion Frank.  So think of these as gateway bands: we’re not going full-on Gloryhammer yet (although Gloryhammer is awesome); the emphasis is on heaviness, aggression and, ultimately, power ¹.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Vintersorg

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Andreas Hedlund, aka Vintersorg, aka Mr. V (if you believe his Wikipedia page) was a prime component of my re-entry into extreme metal.  After falling in with Opeth’s Morningrise I wasn’t sure where to head next, so I went to the record store and maxed out my credit card randomly picking up a bunch of CDs I thought looked cool.  The first one I listened to was Empiricism by Borknagar, and while my response to the music was lukewarm (more an issue with the production than the actual songwriting) the vocals hooked me immediately.  As fate would have it one of the other CDs I picked up was Vintersorg’s Cosmic Genesis, and listening to that I began to get the sense of just how much versatility and talent this guy had.

So much versatility and talent it’s taken at least seven different bands to contain him so for this week’s Nine Circles ov… let’s dive into some of the music created by, driven buy, or enhanced by the man some (I don’t know who) know as Mr. V.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…MANOWAR!

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Everyone who knows me, or knows of me, is well aware of my insane love for Manowar. For over twenty years the self-described “Kings of Metal” have made me raise my fist in the air and sing every word of their glorious tunes. They were my introduction to heavy metal. No matter how I’m feeling on a certain day, I can put on one of their many releases and it puts an instant smile on my face. To me, Manowar IS metal. Whether it’s loincloths, ass-less chaps, or tight leather, the look and attitude of this iconic band will always be my go-to in the world of loud tuneage.

Throughout the years I’ve made countless lists of my favorite songs, albums, solos, etc. So when I was asked to contribute a list for Nine Circles I immediately said yes. How could I not? It’s Manowar! Instead of just a random nine songs I wanted to choose ones that have influenced my life. There is a reason why the warrior on the album covers has no face. It is the face of us all, a mirror to reflect each human being battling the war of every day life. So without further delay, I am honored to present this Nine Circles ov… covering nine Manowar songs that have helped me fight through life’s constant battles.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…80s Glam/Hair “Metal” Albums That Rock

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Look, let’s cut to the chase: if you grew up in a certain time period, it was impossible to get away from the spandex, the hairspray, the fishnet and the misogynistic lyrics. Glam and hair “metal” ruled MTV, ruled rock radio, and ruled the fashions of teenagers everywhere. It also served as a gateway for thousands of kids that would later move into deeper and darker waters. So congratulations if you only listened to “cool” music as a kid – you were either born much later than I was (early 70s), or you were one of the burnouts behind the gym smoking and listening to Slayer. In both cases congratulations: you’ll probably live longer than me in the one instance, and in the other know I secretly coveted your cool shirts and was enthralled by the music, though it’d be a few years before I bought it.

For this edition of Nine Circles ov… I tried to stay away from obvious answers and obvious classics. So you won’t see Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love or Twisted Sister’s Under the Blade (feel free to fight me on those). You won’t see glammed up 80s entries from bands who rocked hard in the 70s like Scorpions and Kiss. And you certainly won’t see all the great speed and thrash bands that still kill to this day. I went under the bed and pulled out the shoebox of cassettes, dusted them off with my tiger striped bandanna and found a few gems that resonate with me 30 years later. So raise a lighter and let’s have some fun.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…My (unlistened to) Bandcamp Collection

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Hello. My name is Chris, and I have a problem.

I started using Bandcamp about 2 years ago. At first it was innocent: maybe an album here or there I read about in Decibel but couldn’t find on a streaming service. Occasioanlly a compilation or anthology I heard about from Henry Rollins’s amazing weekly radio show on KCRW. It was fun, it was innocent, and most importantly, no one was getting hurt. And then, in January of 2016, someone had the bright idea to start this #metalbandcampgiftclub thing and everything just kind of went out the window. At first it was just giving, you know? What’s wrong with giving? But then I started getting, too. And it got harder to just give, right? Because maybe you wanted that album too, you see? And it just spiraled and skyrocketed and every other terrible metaphor you can think of to say things, well…got out of hand.

Seriously, Bandcamp is a great service for both fans and artists. And when I sat down to think about what to write for this week’s Nine Circles ov… I realized I had all this great music I hadn’t listened to yet, so why not pick a few highlights and share ’em here with the fine Nine Circles readership. I’ll try to remember the whys and wherefores, you just check out some great metal.   Continue reading