Circles : The Compass

They Say :- On May 16th, Australian progressive metal act CIRCLES are set to register their presence on the international metal radar with the release of their stunning debut mini album, ‘The Compass’ via BASICK RECORDS. ‘The Compass’, combines musical influences from technically minded bands such as Periphery and Textures, whilst simultaneously drawing lyrical and vocal comparisons to the early works of Incubus and Faith No More.

Mixing up cutting edge production techniques with some altogether killer guitar work, CIRCLES emerge as their own distinct entity, instantly standing head and shoulders from the Metal-by-numbers crowd with their incalculably catchy song-craft, melodic structures and lyrical designs. Say :- Djent is used to describe a certain kind of guitar tone characterized by medium-high gain, a quick-release noise gate to emphasize staccato playing, a cut of most bass below 200Hz for a tight low end, a slight boost around 800hz for clarity, and a noticeable boost around 1.6Khz to emphasize pick attack. When a two-octave power chord is palm-muted with this tone, a “djent” sound is created rather than the typical chunkier sound.

We Say :- Right, so Djent is a guitar noise then…

The problem with tech-metal is that it’s often an excersise in showing off how much fretboard wankery or how many time signature shifts can be squeezed into one technically deep and meaningful but musically soulless song. And as more and more of the acolytes of Meshuggah have come along things have only got worse as certain bands have sought to outdo themselves with how marvelously technical and how trve djent they are.

Now I really don’t give a fuck how technically proficient a band are, what fleetingly hip genre they are part of or how their progressive-tech-metal is more tech-metal than the last tech-metal band’s tech-metal. Not if it gets in the way of the music.

Now up until now you could count the number of tech-djent-whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-it bands I’ve found myself listening to again and again to, well, one. So far of the bands lumped into the Djent, erm, Djenre only Tesseract have had that immediate “yeah, I like this” impact.

So, it was with nothing much in the way of expectations that I gave The Compass, the debut release by Aussie band Circles a spin. Mainly on the basis that it HAD to be better than Born Of Osiris.


And, to be fair I almost didn’t make it past the first 45 seconds or so of The Frontline. Staccato rhythms and weird keyboard sounds bringing on a real “here we go again” feeling but then, suddenly, things take a MASSIVE turn for the better as the band get into their stride. The first surprise is Perry Kakiridas’ voice as he effortlessly switchies from smooth and melodic to shouty-angry and back again. It’s unusual to hear a vocalist who handles these extremes with equal quality, but this guy absolutely nails it no matter where in his impressive range he visits.

The second track Clouds Are Gathering demonstrates all the things that make Circles as good as they are. The fretboard gymnastics and weird time signature changes are still there but they’re kept under control and not allowed to get in the way of the song. And then there’s the vocal performance which is little short of brilliant and binds everything together.

Circles manage that rare feat of indulging their technical leanings without ever sounding disjointed. There is some stunning guitar playing on this album and, like their frontman, Matty Clarke and Ted Furuhashi have an impressive range of abilities, switching between chugging Djent-ey metal riffs and more melodic sounds as the structure of the song dictates.

For me the band saved the best ’till last. Ruins is an amazing slow burner of a track, starting off soft and melodic before building in intensity as it progresses. Even the weird turns it takes as it draws towards it’s end work, some amazing metal riffing mixed in with sudden changes of tempo are something it’s easy to overdo and get wrong, but here it’s done just about perfectly.

This is definitely a release that grabbed me at the very first time I heard it, and on repeated listens just keeps getting better. There is honestly so much going on here that it will take ages to get your ears round every subtle nuance, each time you listen to this you notice another cool little riff or another neat little vocal hook.

A stunning debut, so don’t let the ‘Djent’ label put you off 🙂