Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.
2021 did force me to put my writing here on pause for a while. Between the very good and the very bad it was a wild pendulum of a year, and at some point I found myself unable to keep up with all of it. I took time away, as I have been want to do lately. And for the first time in a long time, I feel like that time away really did me some good. I’m not just back here writing a year-end list because I feel like I have to in order to earn my keep, I’m doing it because I feel like I have things to say about the music I loved this year. Because there was a lot to love, and because I managed, somewhere along the way, to find that love again after feeling like it had been fading for the last few years. Between long train rides with old favorites and early mornings with coffee and brand new discoveries, I felt that connection between me and the music I love slowly flowing back. I feel hopeful that that connection will allow me to be able to share more with you all about what it is that makes me light up.
But then, I suppose I should talk about what made that happen for me in 2021, right?
Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays folks. We’re gonna keep this short: please stay safe and healthy if you’re planning on spending time with family and friends. Life is too short.
My brain’s been scattered lately so why not swing the pendulum wide to kick off the 211th edition of the Nine Circles Playlist: we’re kicking things off with some classic Judas Priest followed by some classic avant-garde black metal courtesy of Fleurety. Anton chimes in with some new music from Blockheads, E-L-R, and a favorite from his forthcoming EOY list, Code. The ever-dependable Buke gives us some Christmas cheer with King Diamond and Savatage, then as a chaser throws in some Fates Warning and Sentenced, among others. if you’ve read Josh’s Best of 2021 post you know how much death metal nourished him this year, so bands like Shub Niggurath and Antichrist Siege Machine shouldn’t be a surprise. Vincent welcomes the darkness with the latest from Ustalost but also lights a candle for his patron saint John Darnielle’s health (dude is currently ripping up Twitter as he isolates due to COVID) with some Mountain Goats. And Angela closes us out with some festive greetings courtesy of Damian Masters and Type O Negative.
That’s it. Stay safe. Think of others. Take care of yourself and we’ll see you in 2022.
It’s the first year I’m at a loss for words. I think I said everything I had to say about lists, and honorable mentions in my 2020 post. It’s really about finding those albums that affected and impacted you, and sharing some sense of why in the hopes they might do the same for someone else. Arguing about what’s missing makes no sense; it wouldn’t change the fact that these 15 records all did something to me to make me include them on this list. Sure, maybe I forgot something, but the fact I forgot it also says something (though it could very likely be saying that my memory is going) – but I tell you what; I’ll make the same agreement with you I always do. Anything you think I might have missed I will listen to again – it might not make my End of Year lists, but it can still make an impact on me, and in the end that’s what’s always the most important.
We’ve reached that point in the year where the quantity of new releases dwindles. So, enjoy this week while you can since the next two will be slim pickings. As a reminder, there’s a ton that came out this year you probably missed so be sure to catch up, find some favorites, and go drop some cash on them. For this week’s new release festivities we’ve got death metal from Haalbuaer, black metal from Ustalost, deathened doom or doomened death from Slog, black metal from Beyond Death’s Throne, and several more in the list below. From here, you know what to do…copy/paste and get some.
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.