Stone Circle – ‘A Forest Dark’

From Brighton comes this new epic concept EP, from prog-death metallers Stone Circle. ‘A Forest Dark’ is based around the fantasy tales of the Brothers Grimm, was recorded with Johnny Renshaw, of Devil Sold His Soul and is S.C.’s first release in three years, following their self-titled album in 2014, cover mounted on ‘Terrorizer’ magazine.

Influenced by a variety of bands, including Opeth, Katatonia, Morbid Angel, Gojira and Amorphis, the band formed in 2004, completing the line-up in 2005. Having played Download, Bloodstock, UKTech and Mammoth Fests, they’ve already supported such highly esteemed bands as Orange Goblin, Evil Scarecrow, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Breed 77, Tesseract, Ill Nino, Sylosis and Abhorrent Decimation.

The band are justified in being immensely proud of this, their fifth new release, given the power contained within it and its agile deviations from standard prog-death material. The accompanying video for single ‘Possession’ is accessible via YouTube.

Bones – That’s one unique intro! Unusual tone, almost diagonal in its movement and sound, packed with creative life, flowing from the drum hits and an edge of Viking style metal about it. Darkness and light, in equal measure and quite strikingly visual. A really varied, imaginary journey, through a range of moods, enabling you to see the Dark Forest, in all its glory. Impressive track length, with plenty of bold experimentation and loads of artistic flair. An opener and a half.

Without Hands – Bursting right onto the scene, with crackling energy and vibrant, exciting riffs. Such variation in tone, melting fluidly, from fizzing loud riffs, to mellow guitar song, at the rarest skill level, so noticeably outstanding as to stay in your memory forever. There are classic deathy roars and growls, but being prog-death and unlike most, rather than forming the majority of the song, they’re strategically arranged and in lower proportion to the instrumentals. Given this skilful arrangement and the alternation between death style vocals and melodic ones, it provides an extra edge, moving the track in new, enlightening directions. A true one-off.

Riddled – Introing with a beautifully played acoustic riff, this, again, takes your mind to places of uncharted territory, providing possibilities within itself. It’s a great and masterfully performed instrumental, of stunning depth and shining intensity. Genuine fantasy realms live and breathe within it. Astonishing.

Possession – Opening with a more melancholic riff tone this time, enhanced by the shadow of the drums, it once more moves in unpredictable directions, seguing gradually into a pure blackened vocal sound, but then shifting into a melodic arena, both lyrically and instrumentally. Very classy production values, flawless and immaculate, in its movement between moods and emphasis. A real true breath of fresh air.

Overall – A dramatic and vivid sojourn, through the Dark Forest and all the fantastical elements concealed within it. As a prog-death project, it stands out a mile. Positively glowing with intrigue and unexpected twists and turns. Highly accomplished in sound and construction, with enjoyably long track lengths, this is respite from sameness and it’s what the prog-death metal genre’s been waiting for.

10/10 **********

Available now on https://stonecirclemetal.bandcamp.com/album/a-forest-dark

http://www.stonecirclemetal.com

Artwork accessible at https://drive.google.com/open?id=OB-8-wEaePpD_YIZCTzV1YTA3QjQ

Watch the ‘Possession’ video at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1R_qM8ZikI

For fans of Viking, death, melo-death, prog, black and melodic metal.

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