From the opening notes of the debut EP from Sweden’s Edge of a Circle, you know you are in for something just a bit……different. The band was formed to explore their melodic and progressive influences, with a hard rock/metal base to work from. Starting with founding members David Eriksson on drums and Andreas Martensson on bass, a search went out for members to fill the remaining holes. The search turned up guitarist Linus Abrahamson, vocalist Robert Nilsson, and keyboardist Sebastian Berglund. With a desire to reach a wider audience, they expanded their influences, this having the end result of a quite unique sound, something just a bit out of every range. The people liked it though, especially those at the Emergenza Festival 2012, as they moved Edge of a Circle into the finals. With this, the band put the finishing touches on their debut at the Peakroom Studios in Sweden.
Now, back to those opening notes I was talking about. There is a quick record scratch, then the soft piano notes come in. The opener Rage then adds some subtle electronic elements, and in a quick thirty seconds, builds it into the opening explosion of chords. The heavy of this one is delivered by the deeply gritty bass pounding that is mixed up front and in your face; it really sets the tone for the song that the other more melodic elements are layered upon. Nilsson’s vocals are clean and strong, getting a bit harsh and powerful at points, but in all the right ways. The keys of Berglund add the extra element that, when paired with the thunderous bass, really make the sound of this one unique and distinctive. The two shouldn’t be able to mix together, but somehow they do, they seem just right. This carries into the rest of the album, as the next track, Dreamcatcher, opens up with it in full force, but soon drops it off and lets Berglund’s vocals shine brightly. He really is the star of this one; his grace and restraint in carrying the mood of the song pay off well. He blows it out when needed, but really, he sings to the song. It is a very effective and catchy tune too, the one that is usually stuck in my head hours after spinning the album. Packaged in the middle of this one is a deeply heartfelt solo from Abrahamson, he digs in for it and bends the notes to just the right place.
My Reality has a powerful base sound, once again delivered by the bass and keys matching up forces to deliver the punch, and once again Edge of a Circle brings in the melodic beauty to balance it out. They never go too far into one extreme or another, always keeping to that delicate balance. So many times I have given a first listen to a band, heard that distinctive bass tone, and then been overwhelmed by everything else, from crunchy guitars to growl vocals. The balance that this band provides works so well, it keeps me into the song, into the mood of it instead of turning me off any involvement and just going for pure head banging effect. Now that is not saying that your head will be stable and safe while listening folks. If you do have some sort of neck damage, please be wary, because this band will cause you to damage it further in the best possible ways. The next track, The Grand Illusion, really holds onto the melodic and progressive side, while riding the heavier elements to give this one a really epic and grandiose feel. The closer of the album, and the longest track, is where they really blend the myriad forces together. The aptly titled Bits and Pieces brings all the elements that have been displayed throughout the album. Though it is a bit more resigned than the previous track, it still brings an escalated feel to it, as the melodic is much more prominent here. The album lyrically is a bit of an enigma though, tending towards the flashy style that is prominent for more metal sounding bands, instead of trying to slide the lyrics into the wonderful mish mash of style they have developed. This is a very minor gripe though, and does absolutely nothing to take away from the massive bucket of awesomesauce that this album serves up.
In the end, the final product is a wonderful blend of the heavy, the melodic, and the progressive. Edge of a Circle really accomplished their set goals of deeply exploring these elements, and then pushed it a bit further by bringing them together in a musical package that really delivers the goods. Now to see if they can push it a bit further and deliver a full album of this killer music. From what I heard on the EP, they surely got all the chops to do it, and then some.