Wednesday 13 March 2019

Circlet - Circlet (2019)

Country: Indonesia
Style: Instrumental Progressive Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 2 Mar 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

I've talked at points about instrumental metal albums being a particular interest of mine and this one man album from Indonesia is precisely why. It's a wild mixture of sounds which only include vocals midway through Come and See, a short opening track. Even there, they show up in both harsh male and clean female form, entirely for texture. I have no idea what is being sung or even what language it's in.

The average track, if such a term can be used, comprises a standard core of instruments. The rhythm guitar is a vicious creature, while the lead soars and explores. The bass is especially prominent and I don't mean the entire bottom end of the equaliser, like the neighbours' cars at two in the morning, but the actual bass guitar, which is very distinctive in the mix. It gets a delightful showcase in Retrograde. The drums, which I have to believe are programmed rather than played, aren't keeping the beat so much as adding their own lead contribution.

And then there are keyboards, which provide a host of textures. They're particularly versatile here. There's a piano at the end of Come and See and it floats behind The Reminder too. They provide a sort of atmospheric background swell on Alter Ego. And there's an overtly electronic sound at points, starting on the opener, that wouldn't be out of place in chiptune music, though it's mostly enfolded by other instruments here rather than running solo. The violin may well be a violin but other instruments heard here, like the 'bells' on Alter Ego and Retrograde, are presumably the product of keyboard work.

What surprised me most here is that Robert Rayvid, who created everything on this album, except for one explosive sound effect that he borrowed for Vanity of Vanities, is a guitarist first and foremost but, however much he dances his fingers over his fretboard, this never sounds like shred. What it does sound like is open to question. He calls it progressive metal and that's as close as any description I can come up with.

However, it's notably varied progressive metal. There's a point on Alter Ego where it gets so fast that it's almost progressive thrash. Yet, there are all those overt electronic sounds and a drum machine that betrays its programmed nature more on some tracks than others. There's that violin on a number of tracks and a softer piano. It very much explores the map in search of its own sound.

The standout track here has to be Retrograde because it features most of those elements within five and a half minutes and does it with style. I'm stunned at how much Rayvid manages to cram into here without it seeming, well, crammed. Alter Ego is another track that finds its groove and riffs around that really well over six and a half minutes, making it the longest piece of music here; while Rayvid crams a lot into his songs, he doesn't need them to run forever.

This appears to be the first Circlet album, but it's not the first project that Rayvid has put together. I'm seeing three from Dramatic Lunacy over the last two years that are all him too. Why he changed the name, I have no idea, because it looks like similar material though I haven't heard it yet. After this, clearly I should seek it out.

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