Second Circle: Black Anvil and Gatekeeper

second circle - black anvil and gatekeeper

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.

Ah, the Extended Play.  Compact, versatile…few genres really know how to effectively wield the EP like metal does.  In today’s edition of Second Circle we take a look at two EPs, used to different ends, but carrying the message of metal loud and clear.  So let’s kick things off with the forthcoming tribute from Black Anvil and then cap it off with the early 2019 metal hammer that is the latest from Gatekeeper.
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Best of 2018: Chris’s Honorable Mentions List

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We’ll save the long-winded rhetoric for the final list.  There’s fifteen albums listed here that are categorized as “Honorable Mentions” because that’s typically how these list things work.  But in reality it’s a disservice to relegate the incredible music contained herein to a tier of “also ran.”  I spent much of the year thinking about what I needed music to do for me, and hunting for the songs, the bands, and the albums that worked – selfishly – for me.  All of the albums listed below work on me and for me: pushing me to move further, holding me back when I’ve gone too far.  I can’t ask for much more than that.  Last year I titled my honorable mentions albums #40-26, but in truth a number can’t define the reinforcement and excitement this music provided.

So let’s dive in and talk about them for a spell. Continue reading

Nine* Circles ov…What “Didn’t” Make My 2018 End of Year List (But Could Have)

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* SPOILERS: it’s gonna be 20 albums…buckle your seat belts.

I told myself this year I was going to take it easy – do the Honorable Mentions, get the final list out, and put 2018 to rest.  On a global, national, and personal front the year’s been pretty much a disaster from the start, and the quicker I can put it in my rearview mirror the better.  But the more I tweaked and played with my end of year selections (thank you Trello for making that shit so easy) the more I realized that – like always – music was the thing that propped me up and made every setback if not better, at least tolerable.  And when the dust cleared from all the list building I found a huge excess of albums that didn’t make my lists but easily could have on another day.  Everything is interchangeable; we are not the people we were even a moment ago, and those experiences constantly inform our perspective on the world, metal albums included. Continue reading

September 2018 Power Metal Album of the Month: Ironflame – “Tales of Splendor and Sorrow”

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There’s power metal, and then there’s metal with power.  Taking a break from his various other projects Andrew D’Cagna created Ironflame as an epic heavy metal outlet that took the melody and power of the bands he loved from the 80s and turbo injected it into a modern speed force.  Coming out a few weeks earlier than its physical incarnations, new album Tales of Splendor and Sorrow hit all the spots the debut did, crafting memorable hooks and soaring vocals in a tight, righteous package.
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Profile: Angus McFarland of Hessian

Hessian

Hessian‘s 2014 debut Bachelor of Black Arts is a fist-pumpin’ ode to late 70s and early 80′ heavy metal classics that paid close attention to guitar driven theatrics as much as it did colorful lyrical content. On their upcoming second full length, Mercenary Retrograde, the spirits of Priest and Diamond Head are alive in the guitar harmonies and old school vocals. True, the band did well on their debut but now they’ve stripped away any of the chaff in their sound and focus solely on nailing a raw, straight forward attack. This equates to an album that rocks harder out of the gate and sets its hooks deeper. We recently had the chance to ask mastermind and guitarist / vocalist Angus McFarland our set of Profile questions to get some inside info on the band and what makes them tick. Head directly below for that and don’t forget to grab your own copy from the links contained at the bottom. Continue reading