It’s Christmas Eve. I’m rocking a killer stomach ache, either from the abundance of pizza mixed with a drink called the Suffering Bastard or the near crippling anxiety of having to leave shortly to spend time with relatives. So let’s just get some tunes in your ears.
We’re kicking it off with a blast from MY past: Lillian Axe released their first album in 10 years this summer and I only found out a few days ago. I love it, and their video for “I Am Beyond” will have to tide me over until the CD arrives later this week. Elsewhere we have what I’m guessing is a fan-made video for Këkht Aräkh, whose two albums are now on vinyl courtesy of Sacred Bones and I’ve been all in on. There’s some great Enslaved with a big band, August Burns Red doing the Christmas thing, new music from the likes of 71TONMAN, Esophagus, and High Command, a few older gems from Panopticon and Windhand, and then Vince takes us home with a bevy of rocking Christmas-themed tunes, including (of course) a stone cold classic from Mr. Diamond…
Look, you know me and my old-school love by now. Would anything other than the new Metallica going to kick off this, the 260th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist? “Lux Æterna” sounds like a band enjoying themselves, playing a lost cover from the past as part of their Garage Days series and I for one am here for it. Plus hot off the presses another killer track from the forthcoming Katatonia? 2023 can’t get here fast enough.
Elsewhere the 9C gang brought it home with some truly neck-breaking metal, including Meristem, Confined and Ultimatum from Josh as well as Panopticon, Pianos Become the Teeth, Pyrithe and – breaking the “P” streak – City of Caterpillar from Vincent. New Guy™ Colin brings the heavy with Moribund Dawn, Anaal Nathrakh, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard in firm metal mode, while Slightly Older New Guy™ Dan hits us with Heads for the Dead, Boris, Chrome, and Black Dresses. Angela invites you to get dark with Gavran, Chelsea Wolfe and The New Values while in a twist, Anton brings up the rear guard with a pair of killers: Turbid North and Ketha.
Second booster. Feel like shit (déjà vu?)…I’m not complaining, just stating the current state of my body at the moment. So let’s get to it for the 251st edition of the Nine Circles Playlist.
Kicking it off with a few recent discoveries for yours truly with new releases from Phobophilic and Toadeater (thanks BANGERTV) as well as a classic from Life of Agony. Then we have a blessing in the form of new freakin’ music from -(16)- as well as cuts from Gaerea, Yandere Chainsaw Regurgitation Factory, Frayle, City of Caterpillar (thanks Vince because I am loving this), and Panopticon, as well as music from Chat Pile, Wailin’ Storms, Foscar covering Alice in Chains, Devenial Verdict, and a host of classics from the likes of Yob, Cathedral, Baroness, and more.
Darkthrone is celebrating the 30th anniversary of A Blaze In The Northern Sky with a fresh, limited-edition, vinyl pressing through Peaceville. 666 copies will be released on June 24th. You can order it here, but I’m sure it’s already sold out. Edit: confirmed.
Keeping this short today, and rounding out with a couple items from Season of Mist. First, we have a new track from Abbath for “The Book of Breath”. You probably don’t need a reminder, but Dread Reaver is out on March 25th.
And we’ll wrap up Monday with the new video from Ukrainian black metallers Drudkh for “The Nocturnal One”. It’s worth noting that this release was moved up on the calendar as a sign of resistance. We’re with them, and all other Ukrainians. Slava Ukraini.
2021 was…. a bit much. We will take each day at a time cautiously in 2022 and try not to spook it. While 2021 brought a hefty amount of unpredictability and chaos, some wonderful things were forged in the turmoil. This was a really great year for music, and I have many albums that I want to shout about from the rooftop, but I am keeping it concise and calling out my Nine Circles nine (we love a good theme). Once again, I am one of the last of the bunch of wonderful writers here to post my year end list as my indecisiveness and overthinking ruined the party again. However, I did participate in the group list (though my albums have shifted a bit…) and also the Best of 2021 Audio Thing (which was a blast).
Here are my top nine personal favorites as well as a list of honorable mentions and non-metal albums that brought me some joy this past year.