Nine Circles ov…Neil Peart

neil peart - rush

It was always hard to communicate how large Rush loomed in the schema of my musical worldview.  Maybe that was because despite their retirement in 2015, there was a sense they would always be there: three goofy Canadians with a terrific sense of humor that also happened to write some of the best, forward thinking rock music of all time.  Always exploring, always looking ahead, the “Three Gods of Maple Leaf Prog Rock” as Dan called them felt immortal.

And then Friday we got the news: Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for the band, passed away January 7th from brain cancer.  It still hurts to write and see those words, because the thing I’ve slowly been coming to learn about my love for Rush, the things that keeps repeating in my head aren’t the riffs but the words.  That’s where I fell in love with the band.  The amazing riffs and absolutely exquisite drumming came later.  The outpouring of love for Neil and the band and the music and the words…it’s incredible to read, providing a chance to dive back in and listen with fresh ears, ears sadly made fresh with the loss.  And so for this edition of Nine Circles ov… I wanted to add my voice to the chorus, and take a moment to set down the music and words that resonate with me, to remember and celebrate a life that impacted me more than I realized.

Which is always the way, isn’t it? Continue reading

Nine* Circles ov…What “Didn’t” Make My 2019 End of Year List (But Should Have)

Best of 2019

* Hey it’s Thursday!  And it’s more than 9!  What else is new?  I hereby fully (don’t) apologize for the late entry that clearly doesn’t at all conform to the format.  Suck it….

I tried to keep my 2019 End of Year list(s) brief…I really did.  But like last year simply too much happens in the span of 365 days to limit advocating and championing the things one comes to love.  And I’m not talking about the release of records.  I’m speaking to the way we change and grow and mutate with every experience, the way what we hold dear or take comfort in stands as a totem or ward against the hate and pain of a world gone mad, a world that grinds away at our compassion, our love, and our fortitude to stand against it while maintaining the core of who we are.  Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Prog Rock in 2019

rick wakeman

Sometimes you want those blast beats and cavernous riffs to pound your skull from the inside…and sometimes you just want to float away on layers of keyboards, odd time signatures, and a plethora of instruments you’ve never heard of.  ‘Round these extreme parts we tend to only look at progressive music when it’s attached to the word “metal” but there’s been some excellent releases this year where the “prog” takes command of the music and allows its freak flag to shine.

Sometimes they’re not even Opeth.

So for this edition of Nine Circles ov…. I wanted to take a look at 9 prog releases from the Year of Our (Dark) Lord 2019 that have kept me moving in strange waters when I tired of the bludgeon of more extreme music. Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…Metal on My Horror Break

Nine Cirlces ov.... October 2019

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve been on here talking about metal.  That’s because I’ve been knee-deep in Blood Red, our annual horror series where I watch a crap-ton of movies and write them up for the Letterboxd Hooptober Marathon.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening to metal – I’ve been trying to keep up with the veritable glut of heavy offerings bestowed upon us so far this Autumn season.  So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… I thought I’d jump in and share nine recent(-ish) releases that have been keeping the blood pumping…as it spurts out a major artery.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.  Continue reading

The Nine Circles ov…Ghost

If you think about it, Ghost has covered a buttload of ground for a metal-adjacent band — hell, for any kind of band — in a dozen or so years of existence. They’ve closed out Maryland Deathfest, signed to a major label and won a Grammy award. They’ve weathered a very public legal saga between frontman Tobias Forge (“Papa Emeritus”) and numerous former “Nameless Ghouls.” And now, they’re headlining arenas across the country. Not bad for a largely anonymous group of Satan worshippers!

With four albums under their belt — and, more to the point, with your author heading to the Giant Center in Hershey, PA, to catch them this Thursday — it’s high time we put their discography under the microscope for a Nine Circles ov treatment. So grab a communion wafer and let’s jump in!

Continue reading