CIRCLE - Hollywood

Circle - Hollywood

8 songs
60:16 minutes
***** *****
Viva Hate


Formed in the early Nineties, Finnish band Circle lists already thirty-three albums in their discography. I have had the pleasure to hear a few of them, and if one thing is for sure: they are hard, maybe even impossible to pin down stylistically. Unable to compare their new record Hollywood to their back catalogue, I can still proclaim without hesitation that this might be a good start into their music. After an email friendship with Bruce Duff, formerly singer of American alternative metal band Jesters Of Destiny, signed to Metal Blade Records in the mid-Eighties, Circle first helped to get that band’s only album re-released with bonus tracks in Finland, and then even got Mr Duff to enrol as vocalist for their own band. And what an addition he is!

Nearly a quarter century has passed since Jesters Of Destiny, but Bruce Duff is still an exceptional frontman… one might even say that he sounds now better than back in his youth. Circle are well known for their lengthy compositions, and this works really well with the invoking delivery of their new singer. The album begins with the upbeat Connection, the only song under four minutes. This could also have come from King’s X or Galactic Cowboys on a good day. The following Mercy And Tuesday, with nearly eight minutes, also comes with nice vocal harmonies but also gives more room to the lyrics. Earthy hard rock teams up with krautrock patterns, and I feel reminded of a bluesy Hawkwind but even more of Julian Cope. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is! Earthworm is a dirty blues rocker, while Sacrifice is a pure-bred glam metal song with a silly yet powerful chorus: "Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice is on tonight!" Spam Folder feels like an incantation, eight minutes full of spooky atmosphere, preparing the field for the last half hour consisting of Requiem In D Minor, a three track suit. Its first part, Hard To Realize, is a four minute acoustic blues number, followed by the quarter hour long Madman, a dark, brooding song with a creepy atmosphere. It all ends with the eleven minute long Suddenly, an authentic take at Seventies prog rock, and undeniably the highlight of the album.

Nowadays it’s hard to find a record that amazes you from beginning to end. Therefore it’s surprising that one such gem comes from a band that is releasing album after album without losing itself in triteness. As I said, I am not overly familiar with their earlier CDs, but I doubt that they can keep up with the significance of this perfect one hour long opus. Rock fans have no excuse to bypass Hollywood!

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