Calligram - The Eye Is The First Circle review

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Band: Calligram
Album: The Eye Is The First Circle
Release date: April 2020

01. Carne
02. Serpe
03. Vivido Perire
04. La Cura
05. Kenosis
06. Anedonia
07. Pensiero Debole
08. Un Dramma Vuoto E Insanabile

The quest to combine black metal, sludge and/or hardcore to make the most vicious and chaotic sound possible has been an increasingly popular one in the past decade or so. With The Eye Is The First Circle, Calligram serve up a black metal/hardcore hybrid cacophony with an intensity to rival the best of the bunch.

The Eye Is The First Circle is the debut full-length from UK-based international quintet Calligram and serves as one hell of a statement of intent from the band. The album's lyrics are entirely in Italian; however, between the viciously distorted vocal style and relatively low position of the vocals in the mix, the lyrics could be in Martian for all the chance you have of deciphering them. Instead, Matteo Rizzardo's high-pitched demented shrieks work mainly to match the intensity of the surrounding music, which is primarily comprised of black metal tremolo riffs and blast beats, D-beat bursts of hardcore aggression, and occasional passages where everything slows right the hell down to give the listener a breather. See "La Cura" for a display of all of these components packaged together in under 5 minutes; this one song serves as a fairly reliable indicator of whether you'll like the album as a whole.

As much as unhinged frenzied aggression translated into musical form innately has a certain level of appeal, it helps if it's structured into a compelling package, and thankfully Calligram have the ability to write engaging songs. The bleak, percussive introduction to "Carne" sets the scene perfectly for the explosion is soon to follow, and the transition of the drums from a slow crawl to blast beats whilst the guitars sustain ominous dissonant chords feels like a rollercoaster pausing at the top of a mighty plummet for a few seconds before the frantic descent. The flow and pacing of each track is nicely judged to keep everything sounding fresh, meaning the frantic bursts and crawling dirges hold similar appeal. The guitar work is consistently engaging throughout; however, the drums dominate the sound here, ably aided by a top-quality production job. The double bass groove near the end of "Carne" sounds thunderous, whilst the snare sound is so full and powerful, it gives breakdowns such as those in "Serpe" a crushing weight. For an album whose tone is predominantly determined by the drums, having such a beefy sound to the percussion really helps maximise the potency of these tracks.

The first five songs broadly act as different variations on the same approach; however, Calligram do mix things up towards the end of the record. "Anedonia" is the longest song here, and uses a lot of its runtime to calm things down after the waves of noise that precede it on the record. The first half of the song works as a gradual soft-to-loud build-up powered along by a marching snare; this brief pause for breath makes the subsequent barrage of blasts, shrieks and tremolos all the more potent. One more short interlude separates "Anedonia" from the album closer, "Un Dramma Vuoto E Insanabile", perhaps the most distinctive track on The Eye Is The First Circle. Black metal is a big component of Calligram's sound, but the form of black metal here feels separated from the Norwegian 90s scene by several steps of musical evolution; however, after the atmospheric introduction (I got vibes of Primordial's "No Grave Deep Enough" here, for lack of a better comparison), the mid-tempo riff that follows sounds more classically black metal than much of the rest of the record. Inevitably, this soon moves back towards the frenetic approach utilized throughout much of the album, but the song finds time to fluctuate back and forth a couple more time. In the grand scheme of things, these variations in approach are pretty minor; however, they help to give these later tracks their own identities and avoid any risk of the album growing stale before its conclusion.

Combining two abrasive and cacophonous genres to make something even more destructive, Calligram announce themselves to be a real force to be reckoned in the emerging sphere of bands creating vicious black metal hybrids with their debut LP, helped in no small part by a particularly emphatic drum sound and performance.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 9


Written on 31.05.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not

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