Circles - The Compass
Basick Records
Prog/Tech Metal
6 songs (30:06)
Release year: 2011
Basick Records
Reviewed by Jaime
Surprise of the month
Australia is one of those places that is slightly off the beaten track when it comes to metal bands. There have been a few that've popped out of there to some degree of success, like The Berzerker, The Amenta and (though you may not consider them metal as such) Karnivool. So can newcomers Circles follow these three and make something for themselves? Coming off of the back of The Compass the answer is: "Probably". Circles falls into that "prog band that gets lumped in with the djent crowd" category that a few others like Tesseract suffers from. Speaking of which, as with Tesseract the vocals here are the unquestionable highlight. Don't be surprised if Perry Kakridas ends up drawing comparisons to one Mr. Mike Patton as he manages to shift from a fairly gentle croon to a slightly ballsier tone before shifting his voice down into the death metal gutters. Clouds Are Gathering shows off the man's talents rather effortlessly, and Act3 even has some slightly more Patton-esque vocal weirdness going on.

This isn't to say that the rest of the band is just travelling in his wake though. Guitarists Ted Furuhashi and Matty Clarke combine some groovy riffs, for the most part jumping over the usual static, one-note chugfests that some bands still throw out with some nice little layering. It's not too blatant, and helps to break up some of the heavier sections a little more interesting. The synth work is a mix too, whereas opener The Frontline uses a somewhat massive bass sound others, such as The Design have the synths sitting a bit further back as an augment, similar the some of the guitar layers that the band uses. They're a nice addition, not too essential but they don't sound like they've been tacked on at the last minute either.

To be honest, The Frontline would really suffer without the synths as it's probably the weakest track here. It's fairly generic and could've been chucked out by any number of bands, and while the interlude goes some way towards improving things the initial feeling of "meh" is hard to shake off. As the album's opener... you can see the problem. Eye Embedded on the other hand would work rather nicely as a promo track as it has all of the band's highlights in one compact little punch in the throat. The synths bouncing around in the background, the guitars, bass and drums sliding from groove to groove without so much as a second thought and the huge vocals that just soar over everything are what this band are about and it's a testament to their song writing and performing abilities that all the little sections transition so fluidly.

As a first release Circles have got mostly things right. They have a uniqueness to them, partially down to Mr. Kakridas vocal abilities, that should stop them sinking into the quagmire. The production work is great too. There's a nice clarity to everything, which is a must for this subgenre, but it doesn't feel too overdone. It's just a shame that the opening track feels like a bit of a letdown. The band does move on from it but first impressions are everything, no? Regardless, I hope that the band'll pick up steam from here on in. The Compass is a strong debut from a group that seems to be sitting on a reservoir of potential.
Killing Songs :
Clouds Are Gathering, Act3, Eye Embedded, The Design, Ruins
Jaime quoted 80 / 100
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