Review Summary: Bar a few missteps, A Circle Of Crows has the potential to dawn a new era.
Some bands want to do everything. They’re typically so convinced in their ability to combine all the facets they love that they fail to focus ability into a single well-thought idea. A Circle Of Crows, hailing from Indiana (South Bend) fall into the trap mentioned above. For a six tracked demo, complete with both an intro and outro - there’s a lot going on. In introducing the demo the listener is greeted by the cawing of crows, ominous drone and subtle sweet synth; all the makings of an atmospheric, folk-drenched, black metal record. Despite some strong indications found in the intro, all this atmosphere is sucked away as ‘Będziemy Wolni’ riffs and snarls into being. Gang vocals, spoken word, blast beats, low growls all make an appearance before a token rock solo joins the fray, legato and sweep further detach the band’s music from the atmosphere of their contextual lyrical base. A concept built loosely on the act’s name-sake and specifics not conveyed well enough through music to even matter to the listener. A quick look at the band’s Bandcamp page gives details of a demo abstract in sounds of thrash, black, death and folk - but I fear there are too many cooks in this kitchen to make something of instant value.
I’m being largely critical of this little demo, but there’s a lot to be taken away from A Circle of Crows eponymous effort. These guys have a knack for songwriting (specifically in playing their instruments), it’s just staunched by equal measures of flamboyant and over-saturated ideas (overbearing guitar solos, Iron Maiden-esque leads, a million vocal nuances). Put simply, all
their eggs are in one twenty-eight minute basket and rather than focusing on a particular set of styles or soundscapes, the group’s 2019 demo comes off insatiably “jack-of-all-trades” rather than the gateway to something truly worthwhile. To continue with my criticisms mentioned above I can’t help but notice all
the vocal styles that pepper this little demo. Snarls, growls, shrieks, spoken word, audio excerpts and cleans, all with their own little variations where specific tracks demand.
Even the hair/speed metal stylings that dominate ‘To Cinder’ meld into a blackened thrash effort complete with gang vocals. A haphazard lead dominates the track, well above the band’s rhythm efforts, but nothing really comes together cohesively as ideas pull apart from each other rather than supporting the music’s central themes. The take away from here is that this is literally the bands first foray into releasing music. Overall, this demo is A Circle Of Crows dipping their toes in to test the temperature. When these guys nail down what type of sound(s) they want to focus on, they’ll actually have a full-length to meet critical esteem and maybe even make a name for themselves.