The Circle never sleeps.
Renamed in 2020 after four years and one album under the name Vagrant, the German-based band now comprising Stanley Robertson (guitar, Asenblut), Asim Searah (vocals, Damnation Plan, ex-Wintersun) and Philipp Wende (drums, Imha Tarikat) unveils their second album, Of Awakening, on AOP Records in 2023.
Bass was recorded by Jaakko Nikko (Damnation Plan, Essence of Sorrow), and the band is also accompanied by Tim Charles’ violin (Ne Obliviscaris).
The album opens with the dissonant introductory notes of Ruins, My Dying World, enveloping us in their melancholy before becoming more suffocating, and welcoming the unbridled surge. The oppressive darkness, joined by powerful vocal parts and a few backing vocals taking advantage of both the slow passages and the livelier parts to impose itself between two moments of floating, guiding us to the eponymous track, Of Awakening, which lets majestic heaviness knock us out. The band also benefits of a haunting sound to accentuate its heady theatrical ambience, which gives the main place to massive howls, but also to violin before fading out to let Afflux place its bewitching harmonics, later welcoming ominous clean vocals. The rhythm intensifies as each instrument finds its place, creating a sublime melodic march before Reign of the Black Sun takes over, returning to darkness and misty harmonics. Clean and saturated vocals perfectly cohabit, taking turns to give a very special relief to this suffocating but fascinating track, which eventually abandons us in the fury of Ashes and Fading Tides, which starts at full speed under a nourished blast. Some of the more jerky parts provide a natural transition to the usual imposing parts, which build on the orchestrations before finally exploding one last time and giving way to silence.
The Circle finds its cruising rhythm between haunting slowness, waves of visceral rage and some much more melodic elements, allowing Of Awakening to dictate its own rhythm rooted in darkness.