"The Last One"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Like many modern progressive metal bands, Australia's Circles try to mix modern groove and dissonance with classic prog tendencies. And also like many such bands, they are only intermittently successful. "The Last One" emerges as a record with impressive bits and pieces but rather lacking as a whole.

Playing ability is never an issue with these guys. It almost never is with these kind of bands. They are maestros of their craft. The problem is feeling and memorability. "The Last One" starts with two heavy and hard driving songs, "Winter" and "The Messenger", that pop with some thick and juicy bass licks and offer some Meshuggah style chug. After this strong opening, Circles inevitably feel the need to slow things down with calm melody and a lighter tone. Throughout the album, the vocals of Ben Rechter are unfailingly clean and pleasant. To the point of sounding very AOR and syrupy in spots. There are times when something more gritty was called for.

As the album rolls, there are parts that perk up your interest, like the quick thrust of "Dream Sequence" and the all too brief mighty climax of "Renegade". But it's just parts. A lot of this flows past in a typical modern prog fashion and the concluding song "Alone With Ghosts" is utterly forgettable.

If a more djent version of Dream Theater sounds appealing, then Circles is your band. But I was looking for more.