Best of 2016: Dan’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

So yeah, this year sure sucked in a lot of ways, didn’t it?

On a personal level…where to begin? My family said goodbye to our beloved dog, Bailey. I had a rough breakup at the end of April. I got into a deeper rut in my professional life than I’d ever experienced before, which culminated in me quitting my job and leaving New York. I also, briefly, quit Nine Circles. (You didn’t think I’d stay away for good though, did you?)

And that’s just my stuff! Beyond that…well, for starters, pretty much everyone died. Prince, Alan Rickman, Phife Dawg, Craig Sager…I mean, you kind of had to know 2016 was going to be shitty on that front after we lost David goddamn Bowie when the year was scarcely a week old. And that’s all to say nothing of the other shit: escalation of racial tensions across the country, continued apathy toward a changing climate, Christmas Eve / Day and New Year’s Eve / Day both falling on Saturdays and Sundays…it was a lot, man. Oh, and we also elected the personification of an Internet comment section to the presidency. That was neat.

In spite of all that, 2016 wound up being a goddamn banner year for metal. When I first started thinking about this list, I was envisioning maybe a Top 15 – but that quickly grew to a Top 25, and then to its current incarnation: a Top 50, with 20 “ranked” albums and 30 honorable mentions, not to mention EPs. It was just impossible to whittle it down any further; that’s how good metal was this year. Hell, I had a number of albums that featured in my mid-year list that didn’t even make it into the honorable mentions section of this one!

Make no mistake, this year would have felt exponentially shittier without all of those records. In times like these, cueing up a metal record that’s driving you bonkers, throwing your head back and howling at the moon kind of becomes essential to maintaining your sanity. And you know what? Sanity was maintained. (Well, mine at least…I dunno about America’s. All the more reason for America to start listening to more damn metal.)

This year may have thrown every possible pile of feces it could at us, but you know what? We made it through anyway. We’re still here and it’s not. And that’s nothing to turn our noses at. Here are the records that helped make that happen for me:  Continue reading

Best of 2016: Vincent Martinek’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

Hey all. This has been a great year for music, made better because I got to share so much of my thoughts about what I was hearing with you, alongside the rest of the Nine Circles crew. It’s been a pleasure to work with some of the most talented people I’ve had the honor to know. Thanks to Dan and Corey for getting me started, to Josh Stewart for being a phenomenal editor, and to all the amazing people I do this with whose writing inspired me to better my own. Here’s to many more. And now that the sap is out of the way, on to the tunes.

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Best of 2016: Josh Thieler’s List

Nine Circles Best of 2016 Standard

My name is Josh Thieler. I love music. I love metal. I love lists. I say many things about metal music that I love in list form below. You know what this is. I don’t need an introduction paragraph. Continue reading

In the Flesh: Ulcerate, Zhrine, and Phobocosm (November 2, 2016)

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Welcome to another edition of In the Flesh, a recap of the best live metal has to offer. On the 2nd of November, I had the extreme pleasure of catching New Zealand’s Ulcerate on the opening date of their Shrines of Paralysis North American tour, featuring support from Montreal’s Phobocosm and Zhrine from Reykjavik, Iceland.  These three bands, from vastly different parts of the world, getting together on one bill was like the stars lining up, and it proved to be one of the most crushingly heavy shows I have seen in recent memory.  Continue reading

Initial Descent: October 23 – 29, 2016

Jagged Mouth
Jagged Mouth

Alright so, Monday is Halloween and surely by now you have your costume in order? In the midst of a horror movie marathon? Burning a skull candle? If not, why and my god what are you doing?! Anyway, it’s Initial Descent time which means more outstanding metal releases for your ears, souls, and minds. This week we’ve got the debut full length, Louring, from Jagged Mouth and honestly these guys rip a canyon in vile doom metal, highly recommended. Speaking of highly recommended, King Dude treats us to another top shelf album of satanic and dark americana with Sex, the always loud Whores kill it, as usual, on Gold, Ulcerate don’t deviate from their crushing and technical death metal on Shrines of Paralysis, Urfaust continue their mind bending exploration on Empty Space Meditation but do it with a bigger dose of black metal than we’ve come accustomed to recently, and Vermin Womb stay true to their despicable (in a good way) death metal selves on Decline. That was a mouthful. But it’s only the beginning so be sure to check out what else is on tap after the jump. Continue reading