Circle Takes The Square
As the Roots Undo


5.0
classic

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF
November 13th, 2007 | 7304 replies | 193,577 views


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It's almost worth the mounds of hyperbolic claims it receives.

Circle Takes the Square is an atypical emo band hailing from Georgia. Combining City of Caterpillar and Envy emo/post rock with more thrash/metal aspects, Circle Takes the Square built upon the ideas of their pretentious predecessors and became the pretentious band of note in the emo scene. Their debut EP and split with Pg. 99 showed a more straightforward version of what was to come, with a more punk-ish feel and less dynamic songwriting. I wasn’t around for its release, but if I had been, I am absolutely sure that As the Roots Undo would have totally blown me away, as it has since the first time I heard it.

Much is made out of Circle Takes the Square and their “technicality”, especially Drew Speziale’s guitar work. For the most part, the reputation is earned if perhaps a bit exaggerated; the guitar riffs take a lot of influence from thrash, while the drumming is at times heavily grind based. The bass on the album is normally buried due to the production of the album (which everywhere else is absolutely fantastic), but is excellent in the quiet interludes CTTS often throws into songs. The complexity to be found in the music is most often with the songwriting itself, which is the driving force behind all the madness.

Circle Takes the Square has more in common with a band like the Blood Brothers than you may realize- both are incredibly dependent on the vocal interplay and lyrics of their two singers and rely on precise timing in their songs to hit you effectively. The albums dynamics are pretty obvious, they hit you with a frenzied verse, follow it up with a small melodic section, slowly build that up back into chaotic verse, then perhaps an anthemic chorus, all the whilst filled with hooks and live sing-a-long material. Besides “Kill the Switch” this formula generally works incredibly well due to the fact Drew and Kathy know exactly when to switch things up.

As great as the timing of As the Roots Undo is, and as much as it makes the album that much more musically diverse, the true strength of the album falls upon Drew and Kathy’s vocal performances. The music could survive without them and still be fantastic, but what really draws you in is the passion and creativity in the singing department. While I may have mentioned a Blood Brothers comparison earlier, its pretty much skin deep as Drew and Kathy rely more on harmonization and quick trade-offs. As overstated as it may be, their singing on the album is phenomenal if you look past the fact that they don’t have the prettiest voices in the world. Its filled with passion, but instead of becoming shrieky or falling into unintelligible screaming ala many of their contemporaries, Drew and Kathy remain totally recognizable throughout all of the shouting, screaming, voice cracks (!), and even when Drew’s voice becomes shaky when he has to sing clean for extended periods of time it holds a certain feeling lacking in a lot of singers in modern emo. Combine that with the fact they have excellent vocal melodies and patterns, and its undeniably the strength of the record.

All the parts are here for a perfect record, but all that would be for naught if all of it combined made a static product. At the Roots Undo has succeeded so much due to how emotionally impacting it is. Emo at its core is about an emotional release within the chaos, and every last song here contains numerous moments which blow you away in that regard. Whether it’s the instrumental buildups in songs like “Non-Objective Portrait of Karma” and “A Crater to Cough In” which slowly build through 4 minutes or 5 minutes until it finally explodes, or “In the Nervous Light of Sunday” which starts off as intense as the two songs that proceed it but ends up reaching a climax which revolves around the clean singing of “An eternal patch on a quilt that hangs from a wall in a throw fraught with our decay…” and the scream of “All I ever asked was for a clean break”.

Despite being the second to last song, As the Roots Undo culminates with the song “Kill the Switch”. Combining every aspect that makes this album so impacting, “Kill the Switch” begins with arguably the heaviest section of the entire album, and rarely lets up from there. Each lyric, each new guitar riff, each strange little quirk here make this song something special. There are moments where for a split second things drop out and the only sound is a deep exhale, there is the famous (at least around here) “Open up”-”Knock Knock Knock” exchange, and the central climax of the entire album “I know its all been done before/I wanna do it again, I wanna do it again”. The song is totally a mess, the parts often make little sense when thrown together and the transitions are non-existent at times, but “Kill the Switch” embodies the best the album has to offer.

The overarching concept throughout As the Roots Undo is a journey of self discovery, Drew paints that beautifully with his lyrics throughout the album. Wild metaphors and imagery, imaginative rhyme, and a sense that this is almost true literature really bring the final touch to an album that is arguably the most accessible emo album to ever be recorded. It can be grueling and exhausting at times to sit through, and after you listen to it a hundred times you may get sick of it. In the end though, As the Roots Undo is an incredibly ambitious effort that exceeds all expectations and truly lives up to the effort that was put into it.

Life is lowly anonymity, in death a noble prose, a Marat David.



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user ratings (1830)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Tell me how gay I am itt.

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



6073 Comments


That introduction is so beautiful. 8')




review gets really gay after that but good job!

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
November 13th 2007



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That was really creative of you to include that intro!

Intransit
November 13th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Blood Brother paragraph is sorta unnecessary (regardless of the fact that I think it's criminal to mention the two bands in the same sentence) and the intro is sorta who cares but good overall.

Album slays. Non-Objective is fucking absolute sex live.

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



6073 Comments


Me: you're gonna get shit for the blood brothers bit
John: I dont give a shit
John: I think its perfectly accurate

iarescientists
November 13th 2007



5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

the intro is sorta who cares but good overkill.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

where is the shadows love =(

Thor
November 13th 2007



10158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

That intro should be in every review.

Digging: Cult Leader - Nothing For Us Here

DFelon204409
Emeritus
November 13th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

You just copied and pasted my old review .

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I'm sorry nick I felt it was the only way =(.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
November 13th 2007



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Shadows actually stole it from the press release to the first Angels and Airwaves album.

711
November 13th 2007



1342 Comments


The intro was so deep and profound holy ship
Like everyone else in the world I agree almost completely with this review, but I disagree with the part about it being the most accessible emo album. There are plenty of others that are for easier to get into.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Nah I think this has the most potential for people to enjoy it. It has crossover with metal fans that I think most other emo lacks.

NortherlyNanook
November 13th 2007



1285 Comments


At least now there's a decent review of this album.

I agree with it being rather accessible. It was only my second emo album, and I greatly enjoyed it after taking time to get past screaming before listening to it.

711
November 13th 2007



1342 Comments


I love how you can talk to the band on their forum. That's pretty cool.
Uh oh advertising

Serpento
November 13th 2007



2351 Comments


^modded kthx

I dunno, I got right into this album first-listen. All I had before it was ska and Dead Kennedys, so I guess that's saying something.

cbmartinez
November 13th 2007



2525 Comments


good review but this is not a 5, never will be



Fort23
November 13th 2007



2469 Comments


good album blah blah



Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 13th 2007



16072 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Wow Fort is listening to emo that hasn't been reviewed on the site.
no wai

Fort23
November 13th 2007



2469 Comments


elaborate?



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