Second Circle: Heads for the Dead and Trial

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.

It’s no secret we have a weird way of writing here at Nine Circles. I’ve been spouting nonsense here since…shudder…2016 and still the primary way I learn about music is by texting Fearless Editor Josh™ along the lines of “hey, what’s coming out that you think I’d like?” Because while I can barely keep up with the bands I love, Josh keeps up with EVERYTHING. I have yet to surprise him with a new band where he hasn’t gone “Oh yeah, I checked out the single it’s great!” So this week when I had a blank schedule for the site and asked what I should be listening to, Josh immediately shot back the latest releases from Heads for the Dead and Trial.

When the Boss lays down the law, you listen. So let’s dig in.

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Album Review: Planeswalker — “Tales of Magic”

You know, I kind of can’t believe it’s taken until the year of our lord 2022 for someone to put power metal together with Magic: The Gathering on a big stage.  On paper, it seems like an obvious match made in heaven, especially considering that the immense amount of careful worldbuilding Wizards of the Coast has been doing with the most recent sets lends itself quite well to soaring vocals and bombastic guitars.  Maybe they aren’t the first, but Planeswalker are attempting to ramp up to bigger and better proportions on their debut Tales of Magic, summoning sickness be damned.

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Nine Circles ov…Recent Albums I Only Have Time to Review in One Sentence…Part III?

I mean…it may be Part III, but who’s keeping The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 178 (4.24.2021)Nine track? Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, and the metals are flying fast and furious enough that there’s a veritable cornucopia of releases worth your time. I mean, not my time…I’ve been busy, you know? Work, um…more work… that one YouTube video I’ve benn playing on repeat forever (it’s this one, by the way).

Really there’s no excuse for not enlightening you, the honorable and erudite Nine Circles reader, on my pithy and concise views of what’s been popping’ on the metal threads the last few weeks or months that our staff haven’t already covered. So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… sit down and fasten those seatbelts as I once again provide one-sentence reviews of stuff that’s been floating my proverbial boat.

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Album Review: Orden Ogan — “Final Days”

It’s been a little while since we heard from German power metal stalwarts Orden Ogan. The band’s terrific last album, Gunmen, dropped way back in 2017 and wound up staking a claim on at least one of our staffers’ year-end lists. But since then, the band’s had some ups and downs. Longtime guitarist Tobias Kersting left the group. Vocalist / producer / mastermind Seeb Levermann suffered a hand injury and had to give up guitar-playing responsibilities of his own. And most notably, the [gestures broadly at everything] that was 2020 forced multiple delays of the band’s follow-up album, the perhaps-too-appropriately-titled sci-fi concept piece, Final Days.

Originally scheduled for release last summer, Final Days is, erm… finally… upon us. So, how does it stack up with Orden Ogan’s back catalogue? All told, mostly well enough.

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Album Review: Immortal Guardian – “Psychosomatic”

My tastes tend to to sway when it comes to power metal. Sometimes I want it to be aggressive, heavy and light on the histrionics. Sometimes I want full-blown, costume and role play drama on an operatic level. Back in 2018 when we were doing the Power Metal Album of the Month one of the biggest surprises was Immortal Guardian, who on their debut were more often than not able to successfully merge the two styles into a ridiculously fun outing. If anything, that balance solidifies on sophomore effort Psychosomatic, bringing sharper songs and a beefier production to highlight how in a short amount of time the band has become a force to reckon with in the genre.

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