Review Summary: Technical Death done right.
As it stands, doing things completely new doesn’t always acquaint to a engaging listening experience. You don't have to be the newest Dark Tranquility or the new Opeth to turn heads. Matter of a fact, a band doesn’t even have to be a standout in their respective genre. Just write me an album that gets my head moving and I'm good to go. Its more than alright to “burrow” from other successful bands. But one thing is for certain, there at least expected to create and expand on their own signature sound. This is what Finnish 5 piece band Circles of Contempt does right.
Imagine if Meshuggah clones, Born of Osiris and Veil of Maya played breakdowns that don't suck and wrote songs that didn’t try so hard to stand out by incorporating stale melodies and keyboards. Don’t get me wrong breakdowns can add a well needed contrast to the songs overall pacing, but only when done with class. Now you have Circles of Contempt, an up and coming young band that plays a more than adequate blend of technical deathcore with some progressive elements; just to keep things fresh. This combination has been done before, but asks yourself this. Does it matter when the band playing it sounds so damn good?
The vocals don't seal the deal, but the vocalist does have a half decent range. From barely high pitched screeches, to semi- low growls, and the occasional clean singing. CoC vocalist, Riku Haavisto never really goes that high or low, he generally stays in the mid range. In short, his range won’t wow you, but it won’t disappoint. He makes up for his shortcomings by keeping up with the changing tempos and time signatures with ease. The vocals aren’t for everyone, layering is all too present and vocal effects are abundant. Some might even find it hard to get past his somewhat “intrusive” vocal presentation. The band does surprise with the some surprisingly well sung clean verses. Shame you don't hear them often, but when they are used they make for a pleasant break his sporadic, frenzied vocal style. Album standout “Concealed” is a perfect example of said clean vocals.
Instrumentation on this album is not without flaw. Drums remain seemingly “attached” to the guitar riffs. Rarely do they come to life or become their own entity. The way they drums are produced make for a canned sound, they lack that “click” sound. It sounds great, but some may want a more "lifelike" sound. The cymbals are awkwardly placed in the background, sounding muted. Speaking of which, the bass is inaudible except for little sweeps here and there. Appearing full force on occasions only to remind you that the bassist does exist, and he is competent. A Day for Night is one of the songs that the bass is showcased.
The guitar riffs are heavy throughout, with heavy influence on groove. Breakdowns are powerful, and hit hard. The onslaught does occasionally let up though, CoC does like taking a breaking from beating your head in with an onslaught of jackhammer-like poly-metric riffs. This is where the harmonic segments and soft interludes come into play, which are fantastic by the way. The solos, although seldom played, are rich and full of life. The keyboards don’t have that “epic” sound that many bands popularize on. Instead, they do a more then fair job of quelling the storm of brutality without sacrificing heaviness. The trances-like effects are pretty much thrown in to signal that the band is about to do something cool. It would have been nice if they were used for another purpose, besides nice little transitions.
Songs have a high level of playability; there are memorable parts that will have you playing on repeat. Song are rarely predictable, nearly every track is chock full of surprises at every turn. Overall Artifact In Motion makes for a great listening experience. Like any debut there’s always room for growth. Artifact in Motion has successfully laid the foundation for future releases to come. Listing recommended tracks won’t do this album much justice; neither will going any further in depth. This band is full of surprise, It’d be best to listen to this colossal album yourself.