Band: The Circle
Title: Of Awakening
Label: AOP Records
Release date: 18 August 2023
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
This is one of those things that happens to me from time to time: starting to listen to a promo album, thinking that it’s really interesting from the first minute, and then finding out that a musician I admire is in the band… OK, I must admit it, I had lost his trace a bit but, hey, I can’t be everywhere. The admiration remains, though… I’m talking about Asim Searah, responsible for the clean vocals in the band Damnation Plan, where his voice sounds ultra heavy and yet very melodic. Well… are you ready to listen to Asim performing in a more aggressive way? Then, don’t miss The Circle, keep on reading…
And of course a band is not about a sole member (unless it’s a one man band, but this is not the case…) Let me introduce you the other guys in The Circle:
-Stanley Robertson (Asenblut) is the talented man at guitars.
-Philipp Wende (Imha Tarikat) is the merciless destroyer of drums.
And there are two guest musicians in this album:
-Jaakko Nikko is the bassist (also in Damnation Plan)
-Tim Charles (Ne Obliviscaris) is playing the violin (!!)
Sooo… isn’t all this enough to spark your curiosity? I bet it is…
How do I start! If I went just saying “this album is fantastic, check it out!”, that would be an accurate resume. But let’s focus and start with the review. My “problem” is that these 5 songs are so enjoyable that I sometimes have a hard time finding the words…
The first song, “Ruins, my dying world” is a great opener: almost an entire minute of soft intro, that melancholic guitar sounds very good, and then the addition of bass and a buzzing guitar give some hints of what is about to come: drums explode at full speed, and Asim starts his growling, with some choruses in the background to enhance the gloomy feel. This song is dark, cold as ice (but it burns inside me while I listen to it, if this makes sense), blast beats are obliterating my senses at times, and the calm parts manage to bring kind of electricity to my veins… I love the guitar tone, and the fact that there’s a violin playing is really special.
“Of Awakening” is the second track, it’s heavy, dark, a bit ominous. I wonder if Asim is also doing clean vocals himself and then putting them together as choruses along with his growls, but I like how this sounds. And the violin… wow, pure beauty, it really thrills me, specially the solo at the end. More things… Philipp is very skilled, damn, at times I just get lost into the sound of the drums and its cadence, drawing the path where the other instruments seem to play in an ethereal way sometimes. The bass lines are truly a thing in this song, deeply resonating alone for a while. Can’t help but loving this!
Then comes “Afflux”, the shortest song in this album, just 4 minutes long. Starting soft and slowly increasing its force, this song has so many elements and details, I had to listen to this one repeatedly ‘cause is special: clean vocals (almost whispered) in the beginning until half the song, when Asim unleash his inner beast, guitars playing incessantly the same melody with slight variations and the amazing violin sounding almost everywhere; a lot of moments of holding my breath; the symphonic touch of some synths; every note is in the right place, seems one of those made of many layers, or maybe it’s just my ear. Don’t know, but what I listen to here is pure beautiful music.
“Reign of the Black Sun”… this is a song alternating some cleans with harsh vocals, musically is diverse, I really enjoy how these guys manage to entwine the symphonic parts with the heavy and dark ones and the result is a very natural thing, I am surrounded by all the mix and I can feel how clear and forceful it is. I can distinguish each note of every instrument and this is delightful. And the lamenting guitar in the end is the icing on the cake.
And the last song, “Ashes and Fading Tides” is the longest one, but don’t worry, you won’t get bored for a single second. The brutal power of drums right from the start makes you feel eager, again the symphonic elements enter and it’s like adding grandeur to a music that’s already big. This song calms down in the middle; I love the low guitar tone, as opposed to the sound of the violin. Are there three guitars sounding? And… it finishes the same way it started: with another display of energy, mainly driven by fast drums and those roars…
I need to mention the artist who did the cover art, she’s a Finnish artist, Awinita Alm. It’s an amazing drawing and it fits perfectly the atmosphere of this album, in my opinion. You can check her works on Instagram: awinita.alm .
It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to some music like this. And I always have a hard time rating the albums, putting a qualification number next to the music… but on rare occasions, I see it clearly. This is 10/10 for me Sílvia
10/10 Immortal Classic
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