It’s probably not a shock, but when I was in my teens I loved the hair/glam/hard rock scene. We were always looking for the next great chorus to sing along to, the next wicked solo. Everyone had their favorites, and mine was Lillian Axe: a hard rock band out of New Orleans who could certainly play to the MTV and hair crowd with songs like “Show A Little Love” but really nailed it on their heavier, almost progressive (for a 80s hard rock band with hair that high) tracks. It’s been a hot minute since the band had done any new music; but as I was putting together my Nine Circles Best of 2022 list I needed a breather from all the extremity so turned to the band only to see that – lo and behold – back in August they released their first album in 10 years, From Womb to Tomb. Another non-shocker: more than a few of those songs have that magic to bring me right back to that time where every chorus was bathed in the glow of youth.
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On paper there’s nothing I shouldn’t love about Snake Mountain Revival, the Virginia Beach psychedelic/stoner trio who after two successful EPs released their debut full length Everything In Sight back in November of 2021. Late one night before the release I listened to the available singles and made a judgement call, preordering the vinyl. Almost seven months later I finally got that vinyl, and listening now I can hear things that are appealing, but there’s a sameness to the tracks that, when taken as a whole album I’m finding frustrating. Was this always the album, or was the frustration of waiting contributing to my less than enthusiastic attitude toward the band and album? I decided to listen again song by song and see if I could get to the bottom of it.
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Day 23 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for a limited edition/signed/numbered or otherwise rare album. I’ve been talking a lot about my love for the Dischord label, and was lucky enough to get in and order their limited edition box set of the First Six Records back when it was $40 and not the $250+ it’s going for now on Discogs. Covering the entire spectrum of music from bands I’ve never listened heard before now to bands that were a formative part of my youth, there’s a lot to unpack here, and that’s besides the great booklet, original liner notes and lyrics/posters, not to mention the careful job of sleeve and colored vinyl recreation, so let’s jump in here with some thoughts.
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Day 22 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for your most recent purchase. I’m fairly particular when it comes to metal on vinyl, and black metal specifically. There’s little chance of a sonic upgrade over CD or digital when you’re talking about the production of a lot of classic metal (my beloved Darkthrone included), but as the genre continues to absorb influences and break away from the rigid tenets of its beginnings the production beefs up and can get downright nice. Nechochwen have quietly been showing folks in the know for over a decade they had the chops and commitment to craft some intense and thoughtful black metal focusing on their Appalachian roots, and on Kanawha Black, their first album in seven the duo of Nechochwen (Aaron Carey) and Pohonasin (Andrew D’Cagna, also of Ironflame) show just how far their sonic palate has expanded with an epic, progressive album that breaks their own mold.
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Day 18 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for an album with some incredible art or packaging. was lucky to get in early and snag the limited edition package for Tales of Othertime, the second release and first full length from Stormkeep, a kind of black metal supergroup featuring members from Blood Incantation and Wayfarer. The album’s artwork would be with the entry if that was the only thing that came with the music, but this edition also came with a book, a map, and a patch for the battle vest I have yet to complete.
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Day 17 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for a guilty pleasure. I get the intent, but not the connotation: if you really enjoy something, do it unreservedly. There’s no room for guilt when there’s so much darkness out there; why hide your joy with something behind inane clichés like “guilty pleasure”? But I can understand sharing something that seems out of the ordinary from what you’re typically known for liking, especially when it comes to music. So let’s talk about how much I love Vol. 2, the second record from Radio Company, which too many people might pass by thinking it simply a vanity project from television star/heartthrob/mancrush Jensen Ackles except…damn, it’s so good.
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