Written by: PP on 27/12/2009 21:53:34

Circle are promised to be a very special and wonderful musical experience by the promo sheet, which also adds that the band touches on genres as different as art rock, avant garde, progressive rock, cinematic post rock, and krautrock, although bits and pieces from space rock and psychedelic rock are also in the mix. Special these Finnish guys certainly are, if not outright strange given the large variety of genres on "Hollywood", but wonderful....that I'm not so sure of.

Interestingly enough, the songs on "Hollywood" seem to have been ordered from simple and straight forward in the beginning to extraordinarily complex and complicated on the last track. Things start off more on alternative rock territory during "Connection", bringing to mind bands like Filter and maybe even a darker Smashing Pumpkins thanks to the singer who shares a degree of similarity with Billy Corgan. "Mercy And Tuesday" continues on the regular modern, mainstream alternative rock sound, except it's almost eight minutes long, so around half way to the song glimpses of Circle's progressive rock tendencies begin to show in the form of avant garde experimentation that you wouldn't find in chart-based alternative rock. Curiously enough, by the time the song's over, you notice that you're listening to an authentic folk atmosphere without realizing it at first, because the transition has been seamless and subtle enough for it to feel natural. Next up is "Earthworm", where the band dives into cacophony with off-tune instrumentation thrown into the mix, which later breaks into Latino-styled guitar soloing that inevitably brings to mind the signature sound of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (The Mars Volta). Straight after, "Sacrifice" flips the disc upside down with some Iron Maiden-inspired guitars, and all of a sudden we're in generic power metal territory. It's definitely a weak track, but I don't know many bands able to move from Filter-esque alternative rock to Iron Maiden in the space of just four tracks!

Fifth song, fifth style it seems, when "Spam Folder" enters your consciousness with a strangely foreboding mood that makes you think something bad's about to happen. It's eight minutes long and re-introduces the progressive element I mentioned earlier, only much stronger this time around. It's necessary to provide a context for "Mad Man", which feels like a scene from a Tarantino movie with fucked up dialogue and the strangest atmosphere of the whole record providing a starting point for an extremely progressive track with minutes upon minutes of repetition from the rhythm guitar, while the lead guitar experiments with solos and weird sounds above the Pink Floyd/Deep Purple styled psychedelic keyboards. Sounds fucked up? That's cause it is.

So technically, "Hollywood" transitions from alternative rock to power metal to avant garde progressive rock to a finale where all styles clash together ("Suddenly"). It's all loosely connected, so you can't be blamed for calling the record somewhat incoherent and for having an identity crisis of some sort, but yet you still get the feeling that the band knows exactly what they are doing the whole time. As a result, the record's likely to appeal to an exceptionally wide audience ranging from Filter to Isis and even Dream Theater fans. But while you can appreciate their vibrant curiosity for experimentalist songwriting, a constant underlying feeling of "it's just not that good" remains throughout the disc.


Download: Earthworm, Mad Man
For the fans of: Isis, Filter, Dream Theater, The Mars Volta, experimentalist music
Listen: Myspace

Release date 27.11.2009
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