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Alarum - Circle's End Award winner

Circle's End
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 21 July 2020, 1:59 PM

ALARUM have released three full length albums – “Fluid Motion” (1998), “Eventuality” (2004), and “Natural Causes” (2011). ALARUM have toured extensively in Australia and also ventured to the USA and Europe. Now, nine years later, they are back with their fourth, titled “Circle’s End,” which contains ten tracks.

“Sphere of Influence” leads off the album. Fierce guitar riffs and beefy vocals open the song, then there is a moment of ambiance. One thing is evident right off the bat—this band has a lot of talent. The lead guitar parts are absolutely brilliant, and the bassist can be heard dancing underneath the madness quite easily. The juxtaposition from the ultra-fast instruments & vocals against the ambient moments should not work, but it does. “Syzygy” is close to five minutes in length. Opening again with chugging guitars that could start and stop on a dime, along with a bassist who has like eight picking fingers, the intensity and technicality of the music is matched by equal doses of melody. About half way in, it shifts, and the melodies shoot high into the night sky.

“Delta” is a short burner, where the Progressive elements come through. The raging vocals are tempered by melody lines in the guitar work. Those “bells” in the background take the song to a new level. At times, the track is a bit dissonant, but at other times the melody is just right in your face, and man can Scott Young bust out a lead guitar passage. “Crystals” is a short, one-minute, sort of odd song, with equal doses of melody and aggressiveness. “Sand” opens with charming clean guitar notes, and a sense of calm and collectedness. Following an intense passage, the chorus is clear and clean, with plenty of melody. You can easily sing along and watch your worries burn away in front of you.

“War of Nerves” sounds exactly like the title. Your nerves begin to twitch uncontrollably trying to keep up with the technical mastery that the band has over their music. The melody here is just a little more subtle. It shifts several times throughout, and the band seems like they are just playing with you. The acoustical passage at the end hears the song complete on a light, airy note. “In Spiral” comes at you with near-complete chaos out of the gates, and there are more notes hit in the opening 20 seconds than I thought were possible. The ambient passage around the half-way mark is both unexpected and odd. But somehow it works, as lead guitar notes usher in the previous sound right back on track.

“Thoughts to Measure” opens with dancing bass guitar notes, and some backing lead guitar. It builds to a frenzy when the vocals come in. The amount of changes in the meter are getting hard to keep up with, but only a seasoned band can pull something off like this. “Circle’s End” is over six-minutes in length. Calm, easy tones open the song, but you know the madness is coming…it’s just a matter of time. Ah, a bit surprised here. Instead of going into full attack mode, the guitars create this great melody, which I am lost in at the moment. But, the chaotic attack cannot be held off for too long.

“Sojourn” is an over eight-minute closing song. It opens with easy and pleasing tones, created from the bass and lead guitars, and then the vocals bring hell with them. Around the half-way mark, much of the sound drops off, as glittering lead guitar notes lead to a calm passage of clean guitars and a feeling of peace, and there is a long fade-out.

Why is all of the savagely good Progressive Metal coming from Australia these days? I can literally name a dozen bands off the top of my head that are making ground-breaking, new material, and I can now add ALARUM to that list. Their musicianship is impeccable, and the time the band has spent together shows, because they play like a well-oiled machine, being able to anticipate their next move before taking it. They also have a great sense of timing…of when to turn up the technical side or apply a melody that lingers long after its gone. This is a fantastic album overall.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Sphere of Influence
2. Syzygy
3. Delta
4. Crystals
5. Sand
6. War of Nerves
7. In Spiral
8. Thoughts to Measure
9. Circle’s End
10. Sojourn
Mark Palfreyman – Vocals & Bass
Scott Young – Guitar
John Sanders – Guitar & Vocals
Liam Weedall – Live Drums
Record Label: Dinner for Wolves Records


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