(We present Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Portugal’s The Ominous Circle.)
Let’s be clear about one thing straight away. As band names go, “The Ominous Circle” is… not great.
Oh, it could undoubtedly be worse, and I’m sure that, when growled with sufficient gravitas from the stage, it probably sounds nice and evil, but when you consider that other, equally valid names might be “The Terrible Triangle” or “The Sinister Parallelogram”, well…
But, as the saying goes, a rose by any other name would still be as horrifically heavy, and I’ll be damned if these guys don’t deliver the goods on Appalling Ascension.
With a phenomenally heavy and frankly rather cavernous sound, somewhere between the dirge-like density of Incantation and the lurching, prodigious power of classic Immolation – along with an ever-present atmosphere of murky, miasmal menace – the Portugese quintet really don’t pull any punches on this, their disturbingly good debut.
Every track (barring suitably… ominous… opener “Heart Girt With A Serpent”, and the slightly superfluous interlude of “Ateh Gibor Le-olam Adonai”) delivers a full-force onslaught of churning, slime-spattered riffs and dominant, destructive drums in classically crushing style, although the overall package – overflowing as it is with gargantuan, grinding grooves and truly hideous hooks, not to mention a filthy array of nasty, nihilistic melodies – never feels like a mere throwback or tribute to a bygone age.
Highlights include the doomy, hypnotic vibes of “Poison Fumes”, complete with some truly monstrous vocals and sudden, spasming bursts of bleeding-edge extremity, and the gut-wrenching, brain-scraping intensity of “A Gray Outcast” – although, truth be told, there aren’t actually any low points on this album, and it’s likely that your favourite tracks will be dictated purely by personal preference, rather than by any issues in the overall quality of the band’s output.
Concluding with the utterly cataclysmic strains of “Consecrating His Mark” – ten minutes of some of the darkest, ugliest, and most utterly unrelenting Death Metal you’re going to hear this year – I can say with confidence that this one is going to make a real mark on 2017, and is destined to show up on a number of End of Year lists come December.
Just you mark my words.
The Ominous Circle on Facebook:
I’ll see you’re words and raise you mine. Okay, that’s not much of a raise, but I was actually thinking about saying something about year end list potential before reaching your final statement. I’ve got this atop my January-list. Welcome aboard the 2017 train. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Bah. My slate for 2017 is 14 albums and several EPs deep ALREADY. Going to have to try and burn through some more of them next week to think the herd a little!
In which case, I withdraw my statement. Come to think of it, I haven’t gotten round to doing a single post for NCS this year. Seems I’m the one left behind at the station.
This album is stellar, been jamming it a lot this past month. Good to hear some cavernous sounding death metal that doesn’t neglect songwriting and riffs in favour of “atmosphere”. They remind me a lot of Dead Congregation in that regard
Was “The Horrifying Hexagram” too obvious? 🙂
That’s a good one, but I thought “Parallelogram” was an intrinsically funnier word.
I was tempted to toss out The Ruinous Rhombus, but somehow that actually DOES sounds threatening to me. I mean, I sure as hell wouldn’t f**k around with a Ruinous Rhombus if I were to stumble upon one.
This is one of the best death metal albums Ive heard in quite some time.
And thats saying a lot, as last year had some greats. And this year is gearing up to have even more.
Between this and Sunless I am slavering to hear what the rest of the year brings us.
Maybe Cadaveric Fumes will even put out a full length. O_O
Very very nice. definitely has a Dead Congregation sound, especially with those sudden slow double bass breaks.
Production is perfectly raw and clear. like Abyssal with real drums. thanks for posting!
I actually had a Dead Congregation reference in an early draft, but felt it was almost TOO on the nose!
This album blows me away. I have been growing tired of the whole “cavernous death metal” thing, but this album has so much more going for it.
Been really enjoying this album since release, though there’s some influences that creep in every now and then that I don’t entirely care for – there’s some almost djent or groove metal influenced passages on a couple of songs here, for example, which really don’t do much for me. But broadly it’s a really good death metal album. Great riffs, imposing atmosphere, enjoyed the vocals and overall style – reminded me of Dead Congregation, Covenant-era Morbid Angel, or Immolation.
Really interested to hear where you think the “djent or groove metal” influences can be found?
(That’s not me being snarky either, I am legitimately curious!)
I’m not at all qualified to assess this, nor am I trying to be a contrarian here, but this album comes up short for me. The first proper song is deadly as shit, but then the rest of the album loses pace and ferocity for its duration. Obviously, in this case, the remedy is to spin it several more times in the next few days. Remarkably/awesomely murky guitar tone, though.
Hey, no worries about appearing contrarian. Seems to me you expressed your opinion in a decent and up-front manner.
I would say that although I think this album is *objectively* really fucking good, that DOESN’T necessarily mean it will “click” with everyone, so if it comes up short for you… well,hopefully I’ll find something else which doesn’t at a later date!
They really dialed in the tones on this ones. Sounds very aesthetically pleasing to the ear.