Profile: Joshua Murphy of the Trad-Doom Quartet Blessed Black

Blessed Black

Ohio’s Blessed Black got their start back in the twilight of 2017 much like a lot of bands over the years: riffing on heavy metal and doom in local dives until they felt they had something strong enough they just couldn’t walk away from. Basically, the American Rock ‘n’ Roll dream since the beginning of the term. One year later they released a two track EP that had that trad-doom meets COC vibe and now have an upcoming full length, Beyond the Crimson Throne, that incorporates those two tracks but successfully builds on them in the shape of five more extremely strong, riff-heavy barnburners. Stoner doom, traditional heavy metal, driving rhythms, and epic vocals means that you’re about to have a new favorite band to be pulling for. Roughly a month ahead of the album’s release we had the chance to ask vocalist and lead guitarist Joshua Murphy (War Curse) our set of Profile questions to get a deep dive behind the curtains. Head inside to see how it went down and go show them some support, links are contained within. Continue reading

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”

ironflame pmaotm

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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