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Rise And Fall - "Our Circle Is Vicious" (CD)

Rise And Fall - "Our Circle Is Vicious" CD cover image

"Our Circle Is Vicious" track listing:

1. Soul Slayer (1:11)
2. Built On Graves (2:44)
3. Harm's Way (2:53)
4. It's A Long Way Down (2:04)
5. To The Bottom (5:03)
6. In Circles (4:23)
7. Het Oog Van De Storm (1:59)
8. Stillborn (1:55)
9. A Present Tense (2:02)
10. Knowing (5:04)

Reviewed by on October 29, 2009

"Rise And Fall made the best of their time in the studio, honing in their skills and crafting something that has just enough creative spark to stand out amongst some of the major hardcore releases of the year."

This year has seen a great deal of superb hardcore treats, from the sullenness of Lewd Acts’ “Black Eye Blues” to the aggressive progression heard on Pulling Teeth’s “Paranoid Delusions/Paradise Illusions.” A fair number of these albums have come from the Deathwish Inc. camp, which seems to have a tight grip on the best and brightest in the genre. All the way from the shores of Belgium comes Rise And Fall with their third album, “Our Circle Is Vicious.” While fellow labelmates Doomriders and Narrows have been getting all the attention lately, Rise And Fall’s first album in four years isn’t one to instinctively brush aside.

“Our Circle Is Vicious” is an apt title for the ten tracks contained within the album, as the band embarked on a vicious streak that could tear through sheets of concrete. The band shifts around with tempos and moods, never sticking to a consistent path for very long. This frantic pace throws off the listener, as the album goes through a series of peaks and valleys that always remains one step ahead.

Like a good portion of modern hardcore bands, Rise And Fall incorporates both quick bursts of speedy punk-ish anarchy and slower, drawn-out mini-epics. It’s a formula that some may be tired of at this point, but it helps to gain insight into the major songwriting developments made in the years since their sophomore album “Into Oblivion.” This time around, the band’s speedier material is much more hostile and the mid-paced tunes are fully developed, with the right hint of emotional undertones. When side-by-side, the differences between the two types are jarring to the senses.

Opener “Soul Slayer” is a shotgun blast to the inner ear tubes, as the punchy production job by Kurt Ballou of Converge fame makes the sonic impact that much greater. “It’s A Long Way Down” and “A Present Tense” rip through flesh and bone; apocalyptic nuclear holocausts jammed into two-minute intervals. Throughout all the mayhem lie a few constants; shredding melodies, a driving rhythm section, and bellowing screams of suffering crying out in vain.

The first half of the album is a blur, as the fury never ceases for even a momentary reprise. “To The Bottom” is the primary indication that things are about to pick-up, as the band’s musical talents are explored. Guitarist Cedric Goetgebuer plays a tasteful lead, a dynamic undertaking that deviates from the formula.

Closer “Knowing” is exactly how to build up to a thrilling crescendo. A clean guitar pluck notes of shadowy scorn, as screams fill the sky of fear. The percussion comes in, pounding away, while tense feelings engulf the proceedings. “So sleep and be still” is repeated in the vein of a mental patient trying to reassure himself that everything is going to be fine. The energy gets to a fever pitch before cascading into the endless oblivion.

This spectacular conclusion helps to cover up the few missteps made near the end of the album. “Het Oog Van De Storm” has a lackluster delivery, blazing by with no real noteworthy highlight. The distorted, hollow sound of “Stillborn” is underdeveloped, an unnecessary interlude that leads into the strong ending.

Rise And Fall may pass by the radars of a lot of hardcore fans, but “Our Circle Is Vicious” is not an album to be overlooked. While clocking in near the half-hour mark, there are a lot of dimensions to the songwriting, even in the shorter songs. Four years is a long wait between albums, but Rise And Fall made the best of their time in the studio, honing in their skills and crafting something that has just enough creative spark to stand out amongst some of the major hardcore releases of the year.

Highs: Aggressive blasts of hardcore punk, "Knowing" is a perfect mid-paced closer, Kurt Ballou's production adds the right punch to the band's sound.

Lows: A couple of lackluster tracks in the second half, could be overshadowed by a year of fantastic hardcore releases.

Bottom line: A mature third album from Rise And Fall that has enough creativity to leave its mark in a crowded hardcore scene.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)