Concert Review: Maryland Deathfest XV, Part One

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[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

Album Review: Samskaras – “Asunder” (EP)

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One of the things I love about the beginning of the year is not being inundated with a veritable rain of releases. A lot of the majors hold back until the Spring, and you get a chance to breathe, refresh the batteries and dive into some of the smaller releases that can really take you by surprise. Plus I have a new set of studio monitors and I wanted to break them in, so what better way to do that than with a chunky slice of progressive/technical death metal courtesy of Samskaras and their new EP Asunder.
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Album Review: Infinite Earths – “Into the Void”

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By now, metal’s passionate love affair with H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos has resulted in countless homages of non-Euclidean atonality and angular dissonance. As a result, it has become a challenge for a band to stand out with its particular contribution. Where its impressive 2014 EP, Spiral from Spacetime, soared with kinetic energy and a sense of wonder, on Into the Void Infinite Earths spirals and spins with uncanny elegance and weaves a tale of descent into madness while eschewing contemporary go-to metal horror tropes. Continue reading