After a five years, Circles is back with their sophomore recording “The Last One,” released August 31 on Seasons of Mist records. My exposure to Circles began with a promising EP, “The Compass,” which showcased modern metal in the djent style. The debut “Infinitas” continued the style and was very solid. Since then, lead vocals have been passed from Perry Kakridas to guitarist Ben Rechter and the result doesn’t detract from the high-quality music provided on “The Last One.”
These Australian lads have a pristine-sounding, mature, and exciting group of songs for us. For those who are just being exposed to Circles, this CD will create new fans. The songs are tight and void of fat or pretentious wankery. I’ve spun the CD more than a dozen times and the melodies are growing with each listen.
The CD opens with a great taste for what is to come. Note the thick-ass bass tone, you guys! Vocal harmonies, lots of forward momentum leading to a head-bobbing tempo change and more sugary harmonies. Dynamics change quickly but not so much that we get whiplash. The changes invite us to continue paying attention. There is enough staccato to know this band can djent but it’s more of a flavor than it is a style; read: not a crutch.
Track 4, “Arrival,” has made quite an impact on me because of the high quality of the chorus which is encased in a slow melodic metal wrapper. This song emits an epic quality and I crank it up every time it comes on. Sometimes I repeat it right away.
Track 7, “Dream Sequence,” starts with high-intensity, then reigns it in and takes us on a journey, ramps it up again, stirs up the pot, brings us back down again and takes a left turn into dreamy clean guitar solo territory, takes us back up the hill to syncopation town and fin. Great composition.
I also must mention track 9, “Blueprints For A Great Escape.” It’s the most challenging song on the CD as the sections seem to be building blocks pieced together but again the chorus makes the journey worth the effort.
The rhythm section of bassist Drew Patton and drummer Dave Hunter are thoroughly locked in; just notice the bass drum and the pulse of the low end of the bass. Rechter has written hooks and harmonies that sound better with every spin. Props to guitarist Tetsuya Furuhashi and the quality guitar tones throughout this CD. Dirty guitars have thickness and warmth, clean tones remind me of Lersxt, and the effects of delay, reverb, or octaves are sparse yet spot-on. Tracks aren’t basic in their construction but aren’t convoluted or intentionally complex; a balance has been reached so people who don’t normally jam the prog metal will be interested and people who expect more prog can dig into the rhythm, enjoy the textures, and relax.
This review wouldn’t be complete without including band names like Dead Letter Circus, Karnivool, Chaos Divine and Caligula’s Horse; Circles can add their name to the list of other top-shelf Australian bands; it’s true there is a certain something in this music shared between all the aforementioned bands – sincerity, gravity, melody. This is an onion that should be peeled by fans of melodic metal.
3. The Messenger
7. Dream Sequence
9. Blueprints for a Great Escape
10. Alone With Ghosts
Label: Season of Mist