Thursday, August 25, 2011

Album Review: Circle Takes the Square-Decompositions Vol. 1: Chapter 1. Rites of Initiation

You can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from longtime fans of Circle Takes the Square. After all, for years it seemed as though the band had disappeared, going the way of so many other groundbreaking emo bands that died before their time. Sure they've been sprinkling bits of information over the years, hinting at a follow-up to their modern classic, As the Roots Undo,but after a seven year dry spell hope for a sophomore effort dwindled. Well the drought has finally ended, as Circle Takes the Square has released their first material in almost a decade.

Decompositions Vol. 1: Chapter 1. Rites of Initiation is an EP, but is also the first chapter of their upcoming album, Decompositions Vol 1. It details a bunch of metaphysical ideas about finding oneself, as well as the journey the band took in recording the record. In terms of pretense, the album is thematically ridiculous. The album is cryptic, yet incredibly poetic. Drew has out done himself, making some wonderfully challenging and thought provoking lyrics.

Yet it is the overall sound that sees the greatest change. Circle Takes the Square has always seemed a bit more experimental than their brethren, which is made incredibly clear in the four songs the EP offers. The EP sees the band meander a bit into the realm of metal and post-hardcore, whilst also trimming away a bit of the grindcore influences that have come to help define their sound. More importantly though, is how streamlined the entire thing is. The production is vastly improved, and there is an overall less feeling of utter chaos. The dual layered vocals are thankfully still present, and the band seems as technically proficient as ever. Each of the four songs is complex, well executed, and deeply satisfying. After all, this is Circle Takes the Square. Would you expect any less?

"Enter by the Narrow Gates" opens up with much fanfare, feeling much more dramatic than any other song the band has put out. It's a slow burner, taking its time to get going. Drew's signature scream keeps the song chugging along, of course with the help of Kathy's always charming and ferocious vocals. It's a rather stunning track in that it's a radical departure from As the Roots Undo. It's darker, more mature, and creates a mesmerizing atmosphere. Another notable track is "The Way of Ever-Branching Paths." The EP's longest song is also it's most ambitious, with it being fascinatingly complex and varied. This song, more than the others, hearkens back to the Circle Takes the Square of old, and is all the more amiable because of it.

Decompositions Vol. 1: Chapter 1. Rites of Initiation is an excellent experience, as well as incredibly refreshing. It's well worth venturing into for both fans and newcomers alike. However, this is merely a taste of what Circle Takes the Square have in store for us, so be sure to check back in November to discover everything there is about Decompositions Vol 1.

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