Belgian hardcore. It’s okay; if you were confused by the mention of it you need not worry, for few would fault you for it. However, it is now time to change that confusion to understanding and acknowledgement: for it is that very same term that Rise and Fall are under. Of all places, Rise and Fall are a band hailing from Ghent, Belgium. After forming in ’02 and releasing several albums, Rise and Fall released their third LP under Deathwish Inc., Our Circle is Vicious
. To describe the album in one word is actually quite simple: vicious.
Our Circle is Vicious
leaves no intro and no calm beginning for the listener. This is fully felt with the chaotic opener of ‘Soul Slayer
’. Right from the get-go we are treated to vocalist Bjorn, the rolling snare drum of drummer Wim, the cyclone riffs of guitarist Cedric and the heavily distorted chugging of bassist Vince. For nearly four straight songs we are treated to nothing but an onslaught of dissonant thrashcore that will guarantee to make the average metalhead band their head and the common hardcore bro to get physical. Rise and Fall are talented in their ability to craft fairly simple riffs and make them sound heavy and catchy. While there is nothing too remotely technical that other hardcore bands like Converge or A Wilhelm Scream utilize, Rise and Falls instrumentalists are all competent musicians and no fault shall be given to them on that part.
An aspect that Rise and Fall are also gifted in is their ability to tone the beat of individual songs down yet still retaining their vicious edge that makes Our Circle such a great album. While the first four tracks seem to blister ahead at breakneck speeds, Rise and Fall turn the BPMs down quite a bit on individual tracks such as ‘To The Bottom
’, ‘In Circles
’ and the final track ‘Knowing
’. While this may not be a new feature found in today’s modern hardcore scene, it shows the willingness that Rise and Fall have to experiment with their music.
However for this very same reason Rise and Fall tend to… well, fall. Too many times did I find myself comparing this band to other bands from their very own label; and to many times, to disappointing results. While Converge is obviously going to get namedropped a lot for the recommendations of how Rise and Fall sound, they also heavily borrow from label mates Trap Them and pre-Heavier Than Heaven days Blacklisted. Not only do I find myself hearing the resemblances, I also tend to find myself floating more towards those bands than Rise and Fall. Cedric does an adequate job and makes the genre proud, but seriously, there really is no comparison when comparing him to the likes of Kurt Ballou. And while there is no major fault found in the ability of vocalist Bjorn, there can be no doubt in my mind the comparisons to Trap Them’s Ryan McKenney that will be made.
Yet while these faults may be peripheral in the eyes of some, the main problem that I have found to be in this album is a problem found too often in music today; and that is simply the placement of songs on this album. It is arguable that the first half of the album will be played constantly more than the last half of Our Circle is Vicious
. This is a major disappointment because the first half of the album is the shortest half to the album, clocking in at just a little more than twelve minutes: that leaves the other twenty (give or take) to be either a chore to listen to, or just avoided all together. While some might be able to tolerate this, I cannot ignore the fact that my playcount for the first half to the album is considerably larger than the last half.
But hey, don’t get me wrong; this is by no means a bad album. Our Circle is Vicious
is packed to the brim with angry thrash inspired hardcore that will satiate any lover of the ‘core. A very fine addition of any fan of hard music that does the genre proud. While not entirely a new endeavor, Rise and Fall have successfully built upon their experience album after album and continually show potential and a willingness to grow and experiment. Belgian hardcore is finally on the map and you would do well to keep your eye (and ears) on it.