If you haven’t heard of the German art metal act THE CIRCLE yet, that’s okay. The band is releasing their debut effort, “Metamorphosis,” later this month on April 23rd, 2021, independently. Based on the concept of the changes a person is going through and human reactions to setbacks like betrayal, separation, or death, the band is masterfully telling a story that shows how humans deal with life’s changes, the feelings they develop, and what phases they live through to get through things. In other words, this album is something everyone could possibly relate to, so let’s investigate whether this record holds up.
Consisting of four chapters (“Chapter I: Angst,” “Chapter II: Despair,” “Chapter III: Wrath,” and “Chapter IV: Salvation”), this album motions through different soundscapes of emotions and does so meticulously. Every note, every change in atmosphere feels calculated. Take for instance the opener of this record, “Chapter I: Angst” – the piercing violin melodies on the dark and grim heavy riffs strongly radiate a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, accentuated by deep bass tones and session vocalist Asim Searah‘s deep growls. The next track, “Chapter II: Despair,” gains a bit more strength and shows a more progressive side of the band, slightly reminiscent of NE OBLIVISCARIS. After the strong intro, the song makes room for blast-beats and sweeping guitar melodies, while Searah‘s vocals range from brutality to a certain fragility all in one.
Doesn’t it make complete sense for a track that’s called “Chapter III: Wrath” to be the most aggressive track on the record? Starting with the ominous sound of wind, the track kicks off with raging blast-beats accompanied by blackened guitar riffs. Guitar and violin melodies add a slight hopeful touch to this track, however, the rest of the mood is definitely grim overall. Searah‘s vocal performance adds up to this general feeling of anger, as even his clean vocals sound menacing. Everyone who has once been through the motions of grief understands that while the whole process can be scary and dark, there is light at the end of the tunnel and in the end, time can heal the pain. That feeling is expressed in the final chapter of the album, “Chapter IV: Salvation,” which is likewise the longest and most hopeful track to be heard on this release.
Altogether, the concept of “Metamorphosis” has already been well-covered in literature (eg. Ovid, Kafka), as transformations in the human psyche are often easy to write about, since they often hit home. However, in music, topics like these may end up getting cursed with a certain overdone dramatic arc that leaves little to the imagination and as a result, loses its meaning. THE CIRCLE, however, have crafted a piece of art that really does tell a story that leaves the listener thinking and feeling inspired, transforming from darkness to a somewhat more hopeful sound, with lyrics that are abstract enough for people to interpret freely in order to reflect on the matter as it relates to their own lives. While the run time is a bit short, “Metamorphosis” wastes no time telling their own perspective on subjects close to the heart and definitely struck a chord.
- Chapter I: Angst
- Chapter II: Despair
- Chapter III: Wrath
- Chapter IV: Salvation
Stanley Robertson – Composer, Guitarist
Alex Wirt – Bassplayer, Visual Design
Asim Searah – Session Vocalist