Circle Takes the Square - Decompositions Vol. 1: Chapter 1 - Rites of Initiation
Release Date: August 23, 2011
Record Label: Gatepost Recordings
In 2005, I went to see Fear Before (the March of Flames) on their Art Damage tour in a small venue in Baton Rouge. The place was quite packed out. While Fear Before's in-my-face set was absolutely incredible, the band's direct support that night was overwhelming. I saw Drew Speziale get pulled into the crowd by his shirt during one song and then complete chaos break itself out into a choral scream-a-long. I had just witnessed Circle Takes the Square for the first time - it was breathtaking. The same can be said about the band's first album As the Roots Undo: violent, poetic and it contains enough instrumental changes to keep your mind guessing the next move. It's an album that's herald by many, and even scoffed at by others.
After seven years, a lot of us were anticipating quite a record from the band that's been in talks for some time. While we'll have to wait until November for the full force of Decompositions Vol. 1, the band has given us the first of three chapters that make up the forthcoming album in the form of the Rites of Initiation EP. When many of us heard the EP's third track on NPR three weeks ago, "Way of Ever-Branching Paths" ended up putting any sort of fan-doubt to rest. What's noticeable about the track is not only the production value, but how there's little to no space between the layering. Every detail about the band is back and stronger and fighting for air in the mix: Spaziale and Kathy (Coppola) Stubelek's duel vocal patterns, math-laden instrumental work and completely controlled anarchy. Everything is laid on thick.
With this EP, one thing that's certain is that Decompositions Vol. 1 could shape up to be an opening of a new path for the band. The opening "Enter By the Narrow Gates" is certainly the most doomed and sludgy the band has gotten thus far, and quite a standout. Right after, the band launches into brash hardcore with the short (I'm saying short by CTtS standards) "Spirit Narrative." Caleb Collins drum work on the track is quite impressive. As "The Ancestral Other Side" is our last audible glimpse until November, a few of us are picking our jaws up off the floor, trying to figure out what we just experienced and finding ourselves coming back for more.
For seven years to pass, I didn't want another record which my friend described as "recording live with three mics placed in a room." I wanted what I'm hearing on this EP. While some hardcore bands of our youth have since shaped their music into other noteworthypaths, Circle Takes the Square are showing that staying the same isn't a bad thing - it's about getting better at it in the long run. November can't come soon enough at this point. I've worn these MP3s thin in just a week.