Review Summary: Rejoice, rejoice a noble birth...
Ever heard a record that completely destroys your expectations, something that is seemingly so alien, discordant and yet so compelling? I have yet to hear a band as strange, insane, unpredictable and as interesting as Circle Takes The Square. "As The Roots Undo" is undoubtedly, for me, the greatest debut ever released by a band as it highlights not only their technical skill, with the phenomenal polyrhythmic drumming of Jay Wynne but also the lyrical viciousness of Drew Speziale and Kathy Coppola's unforgiving vocal tour de force. The screaming vocals could be a turn off for many listeners who are not familiar with the post-hardcore, screamo genre. However, I cannot bring myself to call this band an "acquired taste" as there is so much enjoyment and intrigue to be found in this album, that I would highly recommend it to anyone of any taste.
The vocals of Circle Takes The Square are pretty much integral to the band's overall sound as it is the idiosyncratic battle cries that lead the band's sound and in many regards overshadow the guitar riffs in their ferocity and density. Not to say that Drew Speziale and Caleb Collins guitar work is below par, as any decent music critic, myself included , would suggest otherwise. The guitar playing conveys both melodic post-hardcore and thrash influences in frequent and almost instantaneous juxtapositions from frenzied crashes of noise into the more slow melodic parts and back again.
The lyrics, though seemingly incomprehensible, are some the most creative and imaginative I have ever heard. Lines like, "Uncertain as the fingering of a chord torn prematurely from a piano's womb" produce such vivid imagery that not only reflects the obvious intelligence and wit of the band but tells a story of a man who overthrows a malevolent God only to become as a autocratic and power-mad. Pretty epic, to say the least.
Songs like "Same Shade as Concrete" and "Kill The Switch" are so varied and distinct in their structure it seems equivalent to a patch quilt of different tones, riffs and rhythms. This is especially noticeable in the climax "Nervous Light of Sunday" as the drummer builds up and the vocals call out into the distance: "In the Nervous light... In the Nervous light of Sunday" reaching its apex on what seemed like a crescendo into a flood of intensity, only to find the guitarist pulling out his lead leaving the scene as the screams fade into the melodic chimes of the guitar as the drumming slowly descends it's tempo, ending on a seemingly hollow place. A small reminder that sometimes endings aren't met with a explosion of fireworks but rather a gradual fade to black, curtains close. Slowly, as the final breaths of air leave lungs. Cheery thought, aye.
"Non Objective Portrait of Karma" arguably the best song on the album takes a different approach in it's more consistent song structure. It builds slowly over time in an ambient and beautiful guitar melody that shimmers and glides with the soft crashes of the cymbals. The guitar then changes to a distorted tone accompanied by the harmonising bass as it slowly but gradually build up a feverish tempo into the pure thrash intensity of a thousand suns. It is this song, that I believe purely illustrates Circle Takes The Square's musicianship, the melding of order and chaos, ambience and raw cathartic power into a six-minute song.
However, much I have rambled on about this album I must note that the end conclusion to all this is rather simple albeit plain. BUY THIS RECORD! RIGHT NOW!