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Vicious Circle - The Art Of Agony (8,5/10) - USA - 2004

Genre: Death Metal
Label: Neoblast Records
Playing time: 44:54
Band homepage: Vicious Circle


  1. Dead Scent
  2. Neurotic Reminders
  3. Lord Of Shit
  4. I Am In Filth
  5. Live Long And Suffer
  6. Phantasia Through Agony
  7. Triple Murder Suicide
  8. Phantom Pains
  9. Unfulfillment
  10. Wishing The Djinn Away
  11. Spiritual Deformity
  12. Written In Flesh

VICIOUS CIRCLE are something of an oddity in the modern Death Metal world. They essentially blend just about every form of metal style imaginable, under a common trait of brutality, and make it work in a manner that conforms to either the directionless meandering of modern tech. Death or the blandness of recent brutal Death Metal acts. The two dominant forces at play are the Blackened Thrash methodologies of the early eras of the Teutonic Thrash bands in Germany and the many variants of early 90s American Death Metal bands, from just about every location from Florida to New York. Probably the best way I could define them without getting too detailed is the really twisted and varied offspring of little known American extreme Thrash act MORBID SAINT.


Vocalist Daniel Rapp underscores this jack-of-all-trades nature of this band as he successfully emulates just about every established style under the sun without sacrificing intelligibility in the process. Smatterings of Chris Barnes, Lord Worm, David Vincent, Chuck Schuldiner, Dani Filth, Ihsahn, Varg Vikerness and Frank Mullen can be heard all of the place, like the maddened ravings of a man with 8 alternate personalities shouting down his real self and filling his head with anger and despair over how fucked up the world is. Aside from the brutality factor, one definite constant on here is a strong sense of theatrics, underscored by a highly varied set of vocal mixing effects that give the appearance of a twisted staged musical going on, blinding the listener to the fact that this band is essentially a four piece Death/Thrash band.


The songwriting on here shares the eclecticism of the vocals, but to a lesser extent, and limited to the chromatic, dissonant, non-melodic side of the Death Metal spectrum. There is definitely an underlying SLAYER and KREATOR influence to the riffing style, though subsumed under the vileness of SUFFOCATION and subject to a similar though not as frenzied set of rapid changeups as what was heard out of CRYPTOPSY on “Blasphemy Made Flesh”. This is particularly noticeable on highly varied crushers such as “I Remain In Filth”, “Triple Murder, Suicide” and “Written In Flesh”. Other songs tend to develop a plainer, early CANNIBAL CORPSE-like character and make room for the vocals to show their wild variations such as with “Unfulfillment” and “Neurotic Reminders”. But by contrast, the lead guitar work is very neatly put together and methodical, avoiding the wildness of many earlier Death Metal bands that used Kerry King as a model, and tends closer to a Chuck Schuldiner character with a dash of CRYPTOPSY oriented technical work.


Insofar as more modern sounding Death Metal bands with a lot of technical and Thrash additives, this is a solid release that you’ll definitely want to take a look at. It does well to avoid the entire nonsensical musical rambling of most recent brutal tech. Death bands and their bastard son death core contemporaries, and comes through with a solid blend of brutality and musicality. You’ll never hear most bands today put together masterful pieces of theatrical genius like “Lord Of Shit”, and unfortunately it seems that this band will probably never reach a pinnacle like this again as their charismatic front man Daniel Rapp was unable to carry on with the band.  

(Online May 4, 2010)

Jonathan Smith

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