The Path to Paradise Begins in Hell – Power Metal

The Path to Paradise Begins In Hell

Last month, I spoke about fandom once again and how it led me to appreciate folk metal for what it is rather than for what it could be. I tend to intellectualize things when I don’t understand them, which is why I can’t let myself enjoy music or video games sometimes. Looking for the bigger thing doesn’t always lead to answers and, sometimes, you just have to have fun.

Considering how there has been many events this past month that have occurred, I think I need to bring some comfort and cheese into this column just to get away from all the rage and despair we are seeing. This brings me to, of course, another unfamiliar genre of metal that I am only aware of because of two bands that I am familiar with, and then I jumped the gun. Of course, I am still wading my way through the genre, so forgive me.

Also, be prepared to hear me talk about vocals – I am fascinated by them.

It’s time we talk about power metal. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Some stuff Dan liked this year!

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Hey y’all, it’s been a minute! More accurately, it’s been about 221,000! Over the last four months, when I haven’t been watching the world rapidly start to resemble a toilet overflowing with diarrhea, I’ve been slaving away at my first semester of nursing school. Which has meant that finally, after a solid 2-3 years in a row of telling myself, “I’m gonna listen to less music this year,” I actually did listen to less music this year! My best estimate is…probably 165 albums? Maybe 170? Still a bunch, but down more than a hundred from each of the last couple of years. MISSION [SORTA] ACCOMPLISHED.

On the other hand, this puts me in something of an odd position when it comes to picking my “Best of 2017.” I didn’t listen to as much music. I deleted my Twitter and reduced my overall social media presence by, conservatively, 75% — which, by the way, was a fucking AMAZING life decision that I recommend all of you try — so I had neither a steady stream of albums-you-must-hear-or-you-will-be-shunned crossing my radar screen, nor the urge to seek out even more obscure albums that I could shun others for not having heard. Oh, and also, most of my favorite albums this year were from outside the metal genre. Me putting this list together and claiming it to be THE BEST OF 2017 would be a little delusional.

So, that’s why I’m not doing that. Okay fine, I’ve made a list and ordered it — alphabetically, because EAT IT, BIG RANKINGS — but that’s it. This is just some stuff I listened to and happened to really enjoy this year. Authoritativeness be damned. (Or left for the folks over at Last Rites.) Let’s jump in.

A note before beginning:

This list is going to focus on the metal portion of this year’s listening. (And perhaps, in some cases, the metal-adjacent.) So, even though Ulver put out my favorite album of the year in any genre with The Assassination of Julius Caesar, you’re not going to see that thing in this post. Same with Anathema. Same with…I dunno, Steven Wilson, or The War on Drugs, or other contributions from pretty-blatantly-not-metal artists. If time permits, I’ll do a year-end Rainbows in the Dark recap. (Maybe.) But this is my metal list, and it shall be kept metal. Now, all that said…

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Keeper of the Flame: Frank’s List of the Best Power Metal of 2017

9C 2017 EOY Header Image

Well, 2017 is at an end. You know what that means, don’t ya?

LISTS!!!

I’m gonna keep this intro short and sweet because this is all about the tunes. Since Nine Circles is the mecca of extreme music discussion, I’m going to change things up a bit. My list is strictly Power Metal. As the resident Power Metal guru I want to highlight 20 great albums from this awesome, yet misunderstood sub-genre. If you’re okay with Power Metal, cool! If not…LEAVE THE HALL!!! I now present to you my 20 favorite Power Metal albums of 2017.   Continue reading

Nine Circles ov…2017: A Mid-Year Report

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Do we even do mid year lists around here?  I debated with myself (eeewww) for hours about doing one, but having just run the tally of albums I checked out this year I realized 1) now was as good a time as any to sit down and stock of what stuck in my ears so far in 2017 and 2) I needed a topic for the next Nine Circles ov… anyway, so why not kill two birds with one stone and highlight some of the great releases from the first half of the year?

And let’s be clear: there’s a lot to check out.  I have 251 albums sitting in my 2017 folder right now and I’ll be the first to admit there’s no way in Hell I devoted the attention some of these releases deserved, which is probably why mid year lists change so much by the time the end of the year rolls around.  What didn’t stick now may stick later, the chemical makeup in your brain undergoes a subtle shift and HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME…you get the picture.  So consider this a snapshot: if the quality of these nine releases are anything to go by, metal is having another great year – so great I have an album on here you all will cry our isn’t even remotely metal – and will only get get better as the year moves along.  Let’s do this.

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