The Nine Circles Playlist Vol. 96 (9.14.2019)

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Welcome back to another edition of our Saturday morning playlist, guaranteed to wake you up faster than a cup of coffee and a Red Bull combined.  Every week we’re bringing you the best of what we’ve been listening to in our spare time, because we know you’re curious about what our staff do with their off-hours.  This week, Josh stacks up Cloak and Tribulation side-by-side in a battle of goth-n-roll, Hera combines black metal, melodeath, and Rammstein in a quintessential Hera move, and I throw in a tribute to an artist I’ve long admired who unfortunately passed away this past week, the inimitable Daniel Johnston.  Sit down, tune in, and get your weekend started right.

– Vincent

Embracing the Descent: March 3 – 9, 2019

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If you recall, last week we shared our first Embracing the Descent. As a reminder if you can’t click that link: we briefly discuss somewhere between one and a handful of the current week’s new releases. There is a possibility we’ll look back a week but for the most part we’ll try and keep it current and somewhat regular. That’s the plan anyway. Now, there will be bias because let’s face it: listening to 40-60 albums each week ain’t happening so we’ll be highlighting a select few that stood out for whatever reason. Now that you’re back up to speed, let’s jump into a few from this week and don’t forget to check out the full listing from Monday’s Initial Descent. Continue reading

CANTO: Eyehategod, Emma Ruth Rundle, Drudkh, and More

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You might get one more of these this week, you might not. Isn’t it great living in mystery?

“Ein Bier… bitte.”
– cmb

Album Review: Ensiferum – “One Man Army”

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Hark! The ancient call to arms is sounded. The heathen horde is assembled. To arms! To death! To glory! Gentlemen, to bed, for we rise at eight forty-five! So lather up your horse, slap on a saddle and bridle that big guy up. Tomorrow we ride. For death. For glory. “The horn of Helm Hammerhand shall sound in the deep, one last time.” RIDE OUT WITH ME!

…Anyway. The concept of viking / folk metal has pretty much been done to death. Over their 20 years as a band, Ensiferum have certainly been a part of the folk metal movement, but bands like Amon Amarth, Týr, Borknagar and Finntroll have already cemented their roles as its leaders—those who will ride into the end times battle perched upon their steed squarely within the vanguard. Make no mistake: Ensiferum is a strong band—and their sixth album, One Man Army, is certainly a strong effort—but it ends up falling short of the mark set by the true legends of viking and folk metal.

Continue reading

Subgenre of the Week: Viking Metal

A very metal Monday to everyone! As you may have gathered from its absence during this week’s Episode 4, Subgenre of the Week is now going to be a web-only series on Horns Up. Why’s that? We want to keep the podcast itself focused more on the metal conversation and banter between Corey and I and less on explanatory content. Hence, SotW’s move, in full, to the blog.

You’ll still get a history and Spotify playlist for each genre we cover–it’ll just be a treat for your eyeballs instead of your ears. With that said, let’s get into this week’s installment: Viking Metal.

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Finland’s Ensiferum. The band’s name is Latin for “sword bearer”

So what is viking metal? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

Viking metal is a subgenre of black metal and folk metal characterized by its noisy sound, slow pace, use of keyboards, dark and violent imagery, and, primarily, lyrical themes of Norse mythology, Norse paganism and the Viking Age. It developed in the 1980s through the mid-1990s as a rejection of Satanism and the occult, instead embracing the Vikings and paganism as the leaders of opposition to Christianity. Influenced by Nordic folk music, it is considered a fusion genre of folk metal and black metal, yet distinct from both.

Taken solely from a conceptual standpoint, you’d think viking metal would be similar to power metal. Which is to say, “you’d think 90 to 95 percent of it is pure cheese.” But what I’ve always liked about viking metal–and what sets it apart from power metal, for me–is how few stylistic limitations there are on the genre musically.

Within the same subgenre, you can have classic bands like Bathory or Windir showcasing more of a black metal influence, while Ensiferum or Tyr bring in more of an over-the-top, theatrical sound. Hell, Amon Amarth set their heavily Norse-inspired lyrics (“Valhall Awaits Me”?!?!?!) over what’s pretty much a standard, melodic death metal palette. And Enslaved? They’ve done more or less all of the above AND THEN SOME. There’s just a level of sonic diversity that few other subgenres can match. And in constructing this week’s Spotify playlist, we tried to cover as much of that diversity as we could:

Corey’s Tracks:

  • Enslaved – “Roots of the Mountain”
  • Moonsorrow – “Kylän päässä”
  • Tyr – “Hold the Heathen Hammer High”
  • Korpiklaani – “Vodka”
  • Skálmöld – “Gleipnir”

Dan’s Tracks:

  • Ensiferum – “Blood is the Price of Glory”
  • Amon Amarth – “The Pursuit of Vikings”
  • Bathory – “Shores in Flames”
  • Thyrfing – “From Wilderness Came Death”
  • Windir – “Arntor, A Warrior” (original Norwegian title = “Arntor, ein Windir”

Check it out below for your introduction to viking metal!

-Dan

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.