CIRCLE "Incarnation"

FALCON (ex-Circle) "Frontier"

By Dr. Abner Mality

When is a circle not a circle? Easy. When it's a falcon.

The Good Doctor will explain. Maybe you've heard of Finland's long-running and ultra-prolific Circle...maybe you haven't. The band has been a staple of the Finnish underground for years and has covered a phenomenal amount styles on their many albums. Yes, metal has played a role in Circle's output, but so has electronica, indie rock, traditional and modern folk music and every combination thereof. To give you an example of their unpredictability, their previous record "Six Days" was an instrumental interpretation of a six-day "ultra-marathon" running session.

Well, in one of the oddest gimmicks I've heard of, Circle has decided to "sell" their name to various bands for an indeterminate amount of time. During this period, they have changed their name to Falcon (ex-Circle)...yes, the (ex-Circle) is a part of their monicker. Whether that is ironic or just plain crass, I don't know. Falcon (ex-Circle) is basically going to explore 80's arena rock while the various "pseudo"-Circles each do their own interpretation of Circle's sound. Sound whacky enough for ya?

What is interesting to readers of Wormwood is that this first new "Circle" is absolute and unbridled death metal in raw Finnish fashion. While the "real" Circle have had their metal moments, they have never went as far in that direction as "Incarnation". This is raging, murky, primitive stuff, complete with corpse-vomit vocals, blast-beats and the whole nine yards. And it works! The whole LP will blow the hair back from your head, but each song approaches death metal in a different way. The opening title track is long, pure, muddy brutality. "Infamy" is more groovy. "Transcending" is almost pure noise that is going to push your endurance to its limits. "Bloodstreams" is brief, blasting and intense. The last cut "Burden" is most remarkable, because it its based on hypnotic, almost monolithic repetition. This kind of looping repetition was a trademark of the "original" Circle, but  they never applied it to death metal. This "brutal" version of Circle take that concept and adapts it to oldschool Finnish death...with powerful results. But fans of the "original" Circle's more folky or electronic exploits will likely hate this with a vengeance.

And what of Falcon (ex-Circle)? Well, if you pine for the days of Loverboy and the later Foreigner albums, "Frontier" is the album for you. Brimming with deliberately cheesy sounding 80's synths, this album is unabashedly based in the catchy but awful AOR "power rock" of 3 decades ago. I have a feeling "Frontier" is done with tongue firmly in titles such as "Miami Tits", "Ace of Hearts" and "Leather Seat" are a dead giveaway...but to Falcon's credit, they come up with some catchy stuff and they capture the sappy spirit of that era well. Some tracks like "Beer and Ribs" and "Ace of Hearts" manage to rock out, but the truth is, hearing stuff like "Partners in Crime" and the godawful "Seasoned Girl" just remind of why I became an underground metalhead back in the day. This kind of music is not for me, but I guess if you get a raging hard-on thinking of Loverboy and obscure stuff like Sherriff, then Falcon (ex-Circle) is for you.

Eclectic and weird doesn't begin to describe Mr. Jussi Lehitsalo and his band. Death metal fans can pick up "Incarnation" without fear, but should avoid "Frontier" at all costs. The reverse is also true. Rare indeed would be the person who could enjoy both equally...