Review Summary: An unrivaled and astounding masterpiece. Never has anything sounded so desperate, so absolutely and totally emotionally charged as this album.
For an album at the pinnacle of the scremo genre, it might come as a surprise that it’s actually hard to find any one thing on this album that you can really relate to. Maybe it’s the obscure lyrics or the bizarre but mind-bending instrumentation. But no, it goes completely beyond that – As The Roots Undo
doesn’t so much relate to any feelings as it does create entirely new vocabularies of sonic and emotional expression. You won’t find yourself singing along to these songs as you will screaming out words you can’t even figure out – but it won’t matter. Passion and desperation don’t need words, only an outlet for escape. Well then, welcome to the biggest f'ucking exit sign this side of music.
The compositions here are some of the most intricate and elegantly crafted pieces of noise to be ever set on record, and perhaps some of the most unique works of music anywhere in their genre. It's not that they're especially technical, just put together with an amazing sense of clarity. But these aren’t symphonies or orchestrations - crafted only by the three members of Circle Takes the Square
, it’s one hell of a feat; Every instrument here is stretched to its limits, churning out riffs and beats with a sort of reckless abandonment, reveling in their interwoven fragments of insanity and beauty. The result? An unrivaled and astounding masterpiece; Never has anything sounded so desperate, so absolutely and totally emotionally charged as As The Roots Undo
There are even points here where it feels like the instruments themselves are screaming out to be heard, only to be cut short by the tattered melodies and torn rhythms that the band creates, while every now and then emerging unbound with a viciousness only matched by the desperate and frenzied cries of the band members themselves. Songs like ‘Kill The Switch’ and ‘In the Nervous Light of Sunday’ live off these dynamic shifts, moving seamlessly from thundering, distorted heavy strings and frantic drumming to slower and more melodic phrases, while other parts of the album, like the stunning ‘Interview at the Ruins’ falls back upon Circle’s love of post-rock crescendo elements. ‘Non Objective Portrait of Karma’ in particular features one of the most beautiful and atmospheric introductions to a song ever written, building itself up from the moving sounds of what can only be described as spheric guitar lines, while an ocean’s worth of ambience envelops the song completely before erupting into a blaze of roaring passion.
Kathy and Drew’s twin vocal battering, a whirlwind of screaming, chants, whispered ambience and warbling spoken poetry, only add to the already heaped layers of intricacies that make up the album. While the lyrics are mostly indecipherable, occasional words and verses rear their prose from the murky depths of the music like flashes of brilliant sunlight from smoke, dripping with excess absurdity but nevertheless begging to be sung along with. ‘Kill the Switch’ is perhaps one of the more sing-friendly songs here (which doesn’t say much), with lines like
Now my head is locked in the direction of the sun... Life is lowly, lowly anonymity, in death a noble pose, a Marat David. Tell me who wouldn't give their lives for such a soap box to leave behind. Life is lowly, lowly anonymity. I know its all been done before, I want to do it again. I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!
Yeah, it sounds ridiculous on paper, but this sort of fantasy and absurdity fits flawlessly with everything that the album carves itself out to be. And there of course lies the majesty of As The Roots Undo
. It is, to be completely damn honest, pretty much perfect. Every element and facet of the album falls into place like an elegantly constructed mosaic, some sort of magical tapestry of unbreakable material, with songs flowing into each other seamlessly and each playing a vital role in creating the album’s amazing sound creating a unity that is unmatched by any album released in recent memory.
It’s an album that is explosive in every sense of the word, blazing with breathtaking power and shattering fragility, putrid with the fumes of its own desperation. It echoes and calls with clarity and chaos, a mess of the indecipherable and the beautiful, with every sound, every ivory touch of the piano, every pitch of the gospel choir, every whisper and whistle, guitar line and drum beat, played out with the lucidity of the blast of a bomb, creating a pulsing energy which soars beyond the sum of its parts. If there is one album whose shockwaves of influence will resound in it’s genre for a long time coming, this is it.