Best of 2017: Some stuff Dan liked this year!

9C 2017 EOY Header Image

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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Initial Descent: May 28 – June 3, 2017

Vallenfyre
Vallenfyre

Small talk just won’t cut it this week as there is much to get to. Jumping right in is Vallenfyre‘s third full length Fear Those Who Fear Him and if you even remotely liked the first two then this is the one that blows the lid off, extremely good death metal that is summed up best by vocalist and guitarist Greg Mackintosh: “No samples. No triggers. No bullshit.” INDEED. Unleash the Archers return with their fourth full length Apex and within the first spin of this power metal epic I honestly believe it’s their best yet, such fire and passion throughout. Sweden’s Dråp stir the crust punk and death metal stew into an absolute hurricane on Rotten Till Allt Ont, it’s aggressive and nasty in the best way possible. Next up is Scott Endres’ (MAKE) project The Pod with their wildly experimental and extremely dark/ambient Self Titled album, it covers so much ground that tags don’t do it justice, definitely one you need to check out. And closing out the opening slots is Vattnet with their new single Dark Black, and while their black metal edge may have softened a bit this is an amazing journey into a more progressive sound and one that has us ready and excited for the full album. As you can see this week’s releases are already stacked but there is sooooo much more lying in wait, right after the jump.  Continue reading