Ah, CALLENISH CIRCLE. So we meet again. But this time I was not ripped off, as I received a promo rather than buying the CD full-price after reading a gushing review. My previous experience with CALLENISH CIRCLE was the brief ownership of a copy of “My Pleasure // Your Pain,” which resulted in me quickly trading the CD back in. I’d heard them favourably compared to AT THE GATES and upon listening to the album I was struck that they did indeed sound like the genre-defining Swedes…if they lacked any real sort of passion, drive, or intensity. Let’s see if they maintain their course.
They’re still plying a style of Melodic Death that’s sometimes Gothenburg, sometimes not, though a bit more modern sounding than the last release. The band’s increased their use of electronics as accents to the music. Think, maybe, SOILWORK circa “Natural Born Chaos” at times, though without the obnoxious hooks or the clean vocals. Maybe OMNIUM GATHERUM would be a better reference point (and a better band), as CALLENISH CIRCLE has really picked up on their refined Melo-Death stylings.
On the musicianship front, Patrick Savelkoul usually sings a bit lower than I recall. He’s the highlight of the band, putting in a performance that is sometimes passionate, but at least always professional and never bored sounding. Somehow rest of the band manages to sound bored (“Self-Inflicted” is the big exception). This was my big problem with “My Pleasure // Your Pain” as well—the band just doesn’t sound that into what they’re doing. There’s no fire. There’s no energy. The music isn’t bad, but if the band doesn’t sound into it then it’ll just keep me at arms’ length from the material.
As I mentioned above, “Self-Inflicted” is definitely the track to check out. It’s varied, emotional and even has an acoustic outro. But just as I’m ready to give the band an extra half point for that, “As You Speak” comes on and sounds like every cut-rate Gothenburg song to emerge since Anders Fridén was in DARK TRANQUILLITY. But as people keep giving CALLENISH CIRCLE album of the year nods (which this disc has earned a handful of), I’ll keep giving them the benefit of the doubt. Next time give me something to cling to. (Online April 12, 2006)