ALBUM: The Last One
Some say be careful what you wish for, but after five years between new tunes, a line-up change and some substantial time on the road, it's finally safe to get intensely excited about the epic brand new album 'The Last One' from Melb prog overlords Circles dropping at the end of this month.
Since 2010, Circles have frequently found themselves on the cutting edge of progressive heavy music, capturing eyes and ears all over the world with previous releases 'The Compass' (EP, 2011) and 'Infinitas' (album, 2013). And while their earlier default setting was usually set to full-djent with moments of dark melodics and tech-y brutality, 'The Last One' is a glow-up years in the making that deftly expands on the quartet's previous style while boldly stepping into more sophisticated sonic territories, emerging triumphant with an engaging and sharp release.
For 'The Last One' we've got ten tracks, and instantly the Circles boys leap into 'Winter', roaring in with churning textures and blistering syncopation. It's an effortless djenty delight that swings into the occasional melodic bubble, and proves straight off the bat that Circles are without a doubt one of the most precise and dynamic prog acts in Australia right now. Up next is one of the lead singles 'Breaker' which erupts into deep grooves, off-kilter riffs and a revolving door of time signatures. The brief ambient shift shows off some emotive versatility before we plunge head-first back into a maelstrom of rhythms and riffs - a tendency re-visited as the album progresses.
Third up is the Dead Letter Circus-esque 'The Messenger', a cool, calm and collected track with some particularly splashy drumwork from David Hunter, before 'Arrival' evolves into a whirlwind of melodic beauty. It's here we get to really know new front-man Ben Rechter and his draping vocals that float across calmly anthemic melodies, polyrhythmic segues and menacing basslines. While some of the later tracks bolt into heavier shenanigans (like the pumping 'Tether' and 'Dream Sequence'), others swirl into ambient, post-rock worlds ('Resolution', 'Alone With Ghosts'), and occasionally dabble in electronic voodoo ('Renegade').
The creative and thematic journey taken across 'The Last One' becomes more apparent on its second last track 'Blueprints for a Great Escape', a zany prog bop that blasts out madcap synths and grooves, occasionally taking respite from the wall of sound and lyrically lamenting "you want more than I can give". It's miles away from some of the hauntingly intimate moments on closing track 'Alone With Ghosts', but the final two tracks perfectly sum up the Circles boys' ability to balance blistering intricacy with emotional depth.
'BLUEPRINTS FOR A GREAT ESCAPE' (CIRCLES)
Straight up, an album like this is why Australia is crafting such a revered name in alternative music, and the prog world in particular. Whether unleashing their inner djent demons or swallowing you into an ambient abyss, it's not a stretch to declare that this is one of the true standout releases so far of 2018 - and let's just all hope that Circles don't make good on the album title and call it a day with 'The Last One'.
'The Last One' is due out on Friday August 31st via Wild Thing Records, and they'll also be joining British prog metal legends TesseracT on their Australian 'Sonder' tour in September, before joining fellow beloved Aussies Caligula's Horse in Europe.
For more album info, including pre-orders and some kickass merch, head HERE.
For info on the upcoming Circles tours, head HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER