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Summoner’s Circle - Chaos Vector

Summoner’s Circle
Chaos Vector
by Ian Yera at 12 October 2021, 12:54 AM

Before I really talk about the band, let me just say that ten years ago, I never would have imagined a Black Metal album from Knoxville Tennessee would be on the Finnish top releases chart; they have it posted on their facebook page if you’re interested. American black metal has come a long way and SUMMONER’S CIRCLE is adding to the legacy of solid work coming out of western America. I appreciate the level of commitment this band is putting into their work; on every level from the atmosphere, the production, the outfits and even the naming conventions. Each band member has a pseudonym, just like so many Atmospheric Black Metal bands and like I said they just seem to have put a lot of thought and effort into their appearance and aesthetic and regardless of anything else, that will always leave a positive impression on me. This is more on the side of Progressive/Melodic Black Metal side of the genre, with a lot of emphasis on the interplay of the guitars. When I say progressive I should clarify, this isn’t ENSLAVED levels of psychedelia or complexity, they remind me more of bands like KEEP OF KALESSIN, with slightly longer form songs, lots of transitions and an apparent desire to not repeat the same thing for too long. On the surface, all of this adds up to a very enjoyable experience, even if you’re not usually into Black Metal, I would still encourage you to check this out because it does a lot of things to set it apart from most of the black metal I end up listening to.

Lyrically speaking I could take it or leave it. They certainly aren't breaking any barriers in that manner, but I've always been of the opinion that in metal it's always music first, lyrics last in terms of importance. If your music is good enough I can ignore your generic lyrics (looking at you Vektor) which maybe sounds like a centrist cop out to some (and I don't blame you for not wanting to listen to music with actually harmful or bigoted lyrics. Fortunately I don't think there's anything harmful here, just the usual vaguely satanic/pagan kind of stuff.

With the songwriting, what I ended up really enjoying is how they structured their songs. I said there's lots of transitions, but they all come pretty naturally, they build up to a cadence that naturally flows into the next section. So we end up with melodic black metal sections that turn into proggy shred fests and vice versa. Some songs like The "Heirophants" start off slow and proggy (with a great bass line), but slowly turn into melodic black metal. What I'm saying is that they earn those transitions and I'm giving them multiple positives for songwriting. Apostasy is probably the best example of SUMMONING CIRCLE's proggy side, mostly relying on atmosphere and, not really mid tempo playing, but there's more complexity to the rhythm and groove than in most of the album. The bass sounds fantastic and it really gives this song a deep, rich sound. Not to mention the awesome keyboard solo in it. It's safe to say this was one of my favorite songs off the album. Oh and I guess I somehow forgot "Terminus Egress", another longer form pseudo epic track that hits on all the notes. It's got atmospheric moments, pure black metal and even some clean vocals. I think when I dug into this song, that was the moment when I realized, this album is not just good, it's pretty great. It's so rare that I get black metal promos that don't just meet expectations, but surpass them. These are moments to be savored and I definitely will.

The more I dig into this album, I realize that maybe more traditional black metal fans won't like this as much, but I love it. SUMMONING CIRCLE quite adeptly straddles the line of being both black metal and something more, and the something more parts aren't just a novelty, they are an organic element of the band and still they don't let the weirdness overwhelm their good songwriting sense. These guys have officially impressed me and this album is likely to show up on my year end list. If any of this sounds appealing, please go and patronize the band, they definitely deserve it.

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

4 Star Rating

1. The Message
2. Of Black Horizons
3. Vessel
4. The Heirophants
5. Apostasy
6. Chaos Vector
7. Terminus Egress
8. Chrysalis
9. The Beyond
Azra - Rhythm Guitars
Blind - Vocals
Gog - Lead Guitar
Hex - Keys, Synth and Vocals
Invictus - Drums
Y’Takt - Bass and Vocals
Record Label: Blood Blast Distribution


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Edited 25 October 2021

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