Stone Circle - Myth
Progressive Death Metal
7 songs (01:06:41)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace
Reviewed by Charles
Surprise of the month
This is Stone Circle’s debut; an addition to the growing ranks of metal bands in love with progressive rock, but with some undoubted potential to stand out. As with a great many albums of the sort nowadays, the first influence I detect is Opeth, as they flick from meaty, grooving death metal, to gentler, proggy acoustic passages over the course of lengthy songs. I even think you can, to some degree, delineate the same three basic gears- proper death metal; harmonised, melodic death metal with plaintive clean singing and vibrant leads; and atmospheric, acoustic mode. I also feel there is a strong Mike Akerfeldt influence to the vocals here.

That said, whilst this band probably hasn’t developed a unique voice yet, this is an album worth hearing for the avid progressive death metal follower. In particular, it’s nice to hear someone British playing this type of thing; given the band name, you’d hope for some folksy mysticism to rub off on Myth- maybe some eccentric Canterbury scene prog? I’d be telling an outright lie if I said I heard any Meads of Asphodel in here, but something intangible tells me the band have the potential to blaze a comparably arcane and compelling trail- even if they don’t really do so here. Part of this suspicion lies in the sheer atmospheric power of the expertly crafted acoustic sections, which often have such a folky evocativeness to them that you can’t help but get completely wrapped up in their gently twisted meanderings. In that sense there’s also a strong parallel with pastoral black metal free spirits such as Klabautamann. Look no further than the haunting Closed Eyes for a demonstration of this.

The Sky Has Spoken is exemplary of a lot of what goes on here. It moves through various different death metal moods; opening with a chaotic, blasting flurry before segueing into a compelling, heavy Obituary-like groove. This is quickly chased away by heartfelt clean-voiced tunefulness, reminiscent of In the Woods, perhaps. It therefore runs the risk of sounding like a well-constructed pastiche- when it cuts into a classically-Morningrise style acoustic prog breakdown, this seems to be confirmed. But as the song progresses into something more distinctive, you realise that this band has a knack for curious, distinctive textures, provided by clever, very slight blurring of the lines between clean and distorted sounds (although it’s hardly within a million miles of Traced in Air), and given bite by the strangled, dissonant guitar lines that seem to be there as a mockery of anthemic melodeath harmonisations. In short, not really original, but looking to push beyond the diverse range of influences that it can channel so effectively.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that Stonecircle have produced an engrossing, expertly crafted album, that for now seems to embrace the fertile seam of musical inspiration uncovered by the bands mentioned over the course of the review. Particularly Opeth and Klabautamann; bands that realise the potential power that relatively simple juxtapositions of loud and soft can have when a band really knows what they are doing. Of course, that doesn’t make it groundbreaking, but there are hints of something special here that I hope to hear developed on future albums.

Killing Songs :
Closed Eyes, The Sky Has Spoken
Charles quoted 80 / 100
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