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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Nine Circles ov…Some EOY Considerations (You May Have Forgotten About*)

Nine Circles ov end of year header

I get it – we’re all under the crunch here at Nine Circles getting our 2017 lists in order, and the last thing you need is to look at another list of albums you might want to consider before signing off on your own EOY list.  And hey – I’ll be the first to admit that in the interest of full disclosure I don’t think any of these are actually going to make my list…

But that doesn’t mean they don’t warrant some consideration.  So for this edition of Nine Circles ov… please think of this as some of my alternates – maybe they didn’t quite resonate enough with me to make my list, but that doesn’t mean you should leave them off yours!   Continue reading

Initial Descent: May 21 – 27, 2017

Jordablod Band
Jordablod

MDF week is upon us and while I can’t be there I know plenty of you that are. Hopefully soon I can live vicariously through your experiences, be safe and enjoy. For the rest of you, it’s another stacked week here on Initial Descent. And leading us off is the amazing prog/black/death metal debut Upon My Cremation Pyre from Jordablod. If you’ve ever heeded my advice I implore you to check this one out — scorching way to burst onto the scene here. Next up is Wode with their second full length Servants of the Countercosmos and as ridiculously good as their debut was this one is even better. The formula has been altered slightly but the results are astounding, count on this one staying the course the rest of the year. Sólstafir return with Bedreyminn and unshockingly they’ve done it yet again — blistering post rock collides with their signature metal style and it’s, simply put, bliss. Last of the top slots goes to Illustrations with Acts of God and if you missed out on this band’s debut do not make that mistake again. Hardcore is the foundation but many elements have been added to make this a heartfelt and colorful album, highly recommended. As usual, there is much more to sink your teeth into right after the jump… Continue reading

Album Review: Wode – “Servants of the Countercosmos”

Wode_BC

Seems like it was just over a year ago our editor was extolling the virtues of Wode and their cold take on the classic black metal sound on their debut LP.  I listened to it all spring and into the summer, and its precision and adherence to a strict code of freezing precision and brutality left enough of an impression that it made my end of year list for 2016.  Now the formula that worked so well is tweaked ever so slightly, that cold warmed by the dark earth of the grave with their second album, Servants of the Countercosmos.   Continue reading

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