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Summoner's Circle – Become None Award winner

Summoner's Circle
Become None
by Santiago Puyol at 03 July 2019, 9:17 AM

Long records can be tricky. Holding the listener's interest for more than 70 minutes is always a challenge for any band. SUMMONER'S CIRCLE's full-length debut gets near the 75-minute mark, and yet it succeeds in balancing complexity, heaviness, catchiness, mystery and melodrama to make sure its duration does not become overwhelming. Following their debut EP "First Summoning", "Become None" consolidates the work of the band.

SUMMONER'S CIRCLE defines its musical genre as Epic Metal, and they deliver on it with "Become None". Their sound manages to be a peculiar fusion of elements from classic Heavy Metal, Doom, Black, Death, Prog and even some Sludge. They also do honor in the marathon duration of their songs. Except for a couple of brief interludes, the songs on "Become None" range from six to 12 minutes long. In the sound diversity is that lies one of the strengths of the band, and it also explains why this album feels so much shorter than it really is.

The sound of flowing water and invocation chants begin the album in "Ex Terra", serving as a prologue before "Worm Tunnel" throws us fully into the universe of SUMMONER'S CIRCLE. Psychedelic synths and organ provide the mantle upon which frantic Folk-inspired riffing stands. Vocals are harsh and high-pitched; contrasting perfectly with the music that takes a sound close to OPETH on "Ghost Reveries" and "Watershed". The guitar chooses a bluesy sound in the solos.

"Minotaur" follows next, being bookended with droning sounds, featuring an interesting vocal interplay between high-pitched and low-pitched growls. It is the first true epic of the album, lasting almost 10 minutes. Around four minutes in, it has a bluesy breakdown followed by a long, space-y, PINK FLOYD-inspired section. It is a clear example of the shifting yet coherent structures that SUMMONER'S CIRCLE uses to build long yet consistently appealing songs.

The band remains unpredictable. An example of this is the introduction of clean voices in the last two songs of the album. Particularly noteworthy is "Temple of Suffering" which uses the contrast between cleans and harsh vocals for a major effect. With a sound closer to BLACK SABBATH at times, the music swings between Stoner Rock-tingled sections and Doom Metal sections. Meanwhile, the synths play Folk-inspired melodies that seem out of a video game soundtrack.

Songwriting is dense throughout the album, but always consistent. Lasting almost 12 minutes, "Legion" is the longest song. It has a sound that evokes the Far East, and allows itself to be as melodic as it is aggressive. It is one of the songs that makes the most use of blast beats here, yet does so in contrast to a warm bass line and smooth organ playing. Throwing a time signature change around the six-minute mark, allows for a long section that sounds improvisational, with spidery guitar playing. A subtle coda puts an end to the song.

The title track has a horror movie soundtrack vibe, with the organ and synthesizers adopting an almost circus vibe, though twisted. The bass and drums provide a great build-up, which ends in an explosive, bluesy guitar solo, one of the album's most interesting - something that is a lot to say, considering that solos abound and are more than proficient. DEEP PURPLE influences sneak into the guitar and drum combo in the middle section, while the song incorporates bowed strings at the end.

More circus vibes appear in the great synthesizer solo of Hard Rock inspired "Overseer of the Infernal Construct", while "Balrog General" takes a sound more influenced by DREAM THEATER in its first half, before descending on a frantic drum solo in which it seems the drummer momentarily invokes the spirit of John Bonham.

"In Ut Ambustio" is the other interlude of the album and serves to divide it into two halves. It is the only instrumental here, with a classically inspired sound. The synthesizers take on a very eighties vibe. "Further into Dis" is an epic closer to the album, although its abrupt end is probably the only production error that can be found on the album. A minor detail, considering that the natural sound, rich in subtleties, is one of its greatest strengths of the whole record.

If one should have to nitpick a flaw the album has because of its length, it is probably a lack of memorability. Being so long and having songs with shifting structures, it becomes harder to retain into mind the so many interesting and creative ideas the band puts in here. Nonetheless, "Become None" is an almost perfect record in other regards, especially its flawless production and its tight, inventive songwriting.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 8
Memorability: 6
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. Ex Terra
2. Worm Tunnel
3. Minotaur
4. Legion
5. Become None
6. In Ut Ambustio
7. Balrog General
8. Overseer of the Internal Construct
9. Temple of Suffering
10. Further into Dis
Blind – Vocals & Incantations
Gog – Lead Guitar
Absalon – Rhythm Guitar
Y'takt – Bass Guitar
Hex – Keyboards, Organ & Scary Sounds
Frix2 – Drums
Record Label: Pavement Entertainment


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Edited 16 October 2019

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