Nine Circles ov…Transcending Records

transcending records logo

Transcending Records may be a jack-of-all-trades, acting as a record label, online shop, and distribution company out of the Chicago area, but all of that work is focused on one thing: bringing brutal metal to the masses.  And like many noble pursuits, it’s damn hard to make any money at it.  But a massive storm in October put an even larger dent in things, as a flood wiped out a significant portion of the business’s stock.  CDs, cassettes, clothing, even personal items were completely lost.  So they salvaged what they could and put together some cool packages, including a box of 15 CDs and a plethora of stickers for folks willing to help support them.

So for this edition of Nine Circles ov... not only am I asking you to help support Transcending Records in the best way possible: hit their site and check out what’s available (they have some GREAT releases coming soon, including the debut from Transylvania Slut and the latest from Monolith Cult) but I’ve assembled nine sick and twisted blasts of metal that came in the bundle I received as thanks for my support.  let’s dig in…   Continue reading

Unholy Divers: Atheist

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Welcome to the first edition of Unholy Divers, a new series here at Nine Circles where we immerse ourselves in the discographies of bands we should be more familiar with, but for whatever reasons, just aren’t.

Admit it: we’ve all had those conversations with other metalheads where we pretend to be experts on a band – you know, because metal cred, guys – but actually know next to nothing about them. (Okay, this isn’t just a metal-specific occurrence.) You know how it goes – lots of “oh, yeah,” and “definitely, dude,” but hardly any actual knowledge of the artist or their music. With the wealth of music available to us, it’s just bound to happen; nobody can possibly listen to everything. (Except maybe the human encyclopedias over at Last Rites.)

Unholy Divers is our attempt to close these knowledge gaps. Each time out, we’ll take a deep dive (ha-ha) into a different band’s catalogue – studio albums, EPs, singles, splits, you name it – and hopefully give ourselves a better sense of what exactly the cool kids have been talking about for all these years. And then, we’ll write about it.

So without any further ado, let’s jump into our first band…  Continue reading

Concert Review: Maryland Deathfest XV, Part One

maryland deathfest xv

[click here for part two]  [click here for part three]  [click here for part four]

For the fifth year in a row, I found myself down in Baltimore over Memorial Day weekend for Maryland Deathfest. Although this year, things were a little different. For one, there was no outside stage — an omission that, I hoped, wouldn’t prove to be a death knell for “America’s Biggest Metal Party®.” For another, my two longtime MDF-attending colleagues — our co-host emeritus and Literati Overlord — decided not to partake in this year’s festivities.

Still, with a compelling enough lineup and plenty of other metal comrades flying in for the weekend, I decided to take the plunge again. And, lucky you, you get to hear all about it! (SPOILER ALERT: Reports of Maryland Deathfest’s, erm… death… were greatly exaggerated.)

I was going to try to write up these recaps as I go, but the reality is, that was never going to be possible. (You know, because of concerting and catching-up-with and other shenanigans. And maybe sleep, too.) Oh well, with all that said, here goes…

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Album Review: Artificial Brain – “Infrared Horizon”

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If we’re gonna talk about Artificial Brain and their new behemoth of an album Infrared Horizon, we need to talk about space.  And I don’t mean space as in the overall concept of the record, or indeed of the band’s thematic palette.  I’m talking about the space in between notes, the dynamic release of tension that is essential in order to break apart the monotony that a record this dense can easily fall prey to.

In other words, let me tell you how Artificial Brain learned every lesson they needed to learn in order to craft one of the best death metal albums of the year.   Continue reading

Second Circle: Engulfed and Condemned

Second Circle

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.

Not only has the start of So Many Good Releases™ commenced in the metal world, but I’m losing an hour come tomorrow morning (no matter what our overly enthusiastic editor says about “gaining our days back”) so getting a chance to listen/absorb/transform back into words every single worthwhile release has become a bit of challenge. We here at Nine Circles are making plans to address that in the near future, but in the meantime I’ve got you covered with another Second Circle, this time featuring two death metal releases worth checking out by Engulfed and Condemned. So brush up on your vokills and let’s dig in.   Continue reading