What if we went back to Lostprophets first couple records in the early 00s, and then they listened to some Meshuggah
and decided to go in that heavier direction? I mean, that really doesn't do service to Circles, but it's a good place to start. Having otherwise drawn comparisons to Incubus
and Faith No More
while still being rooted in the new djent movement, the Australian 5-piece has an immediately familiar sound while being maddeningly difficult to write about.
The Compass marks Circles' label debut, although opener "The Frontline" had appeared on a 3-song demo that I'd found on Got Djent. That track provides a reasonable overview of the rest of what's to come. What stands out is perhaps that a band like this leads into their EP with a synth groove that would make Pendulum or Celldweller proud before launching in with the guitars; and then, just to tag up in more familiar prog territory, they bring in the mellotron strings.
The Lostprophets comparison is most evident in the vocal delivery and melodies on tracks like "Act3" and "Eye Embedded." As a result, the heavy grooves and breakdowns are set against hugely catchy melodic hooks; to be fair, this is the biggest problem some people seem to have with djent, and that's unfortunate.
That should also not detract from some of the riffing on this album. Sure, there are lots of riffs that center around syncopated power chords, but the ones that really jump out are things like the slinky lines of the intro riff to "The Design." Guitar and vocals are the instruments at the forefront of the band, although naturally the drums get to shine in places as well. That's not to say anything negative about the bass, of course; either he's providing a masterful foundation, or I'm just too caught up in the rest of the music to notice the fills.
The end result of all this is a pretty incredible half hour of music that should be well-accepted by any prog metal and djent fan. At the same time, the melodies and tight songwriting make it accessible enough to be a stepping stone
for more mainstream radio listeners. Let's hope it's not too long before they put together a full-length.