Album Review – Circle of Dust – Circle of Dust (Remastered) 1992/2016

Availability: FixT Store, Spotify, and Amazon (original/reissue)

www.circleofdust.net

www.fixtstore.com/collections/circle-of-dust

Before the formation of Circle of Dust, founded in 1988, Scott Albert was in a thrash metal band called Immortal, releasing a single demo tape, and it was through Immortal joining his former record label, R.E.X Records that Circle of Dust, Brainchild and Argyle Park came into the picture. During the duration of Circle of Dust, Albert (later to be known as Klayton and Celldweller) worked on a side project called Brainchild with the manager of R.E.X Records, Doug Mann in 1992 – the only album to be produced Mindwarp would later become a Circle of Dust album in ’94, and it is this album that is the next on the line to be remastered, in fact, it is now available to pre-order, I’ll post the link below the review. The same year, Scott Albert and a musician on the same label, Buka founded Argyle Park, and to date it is the only band of the Christian metal genre to be the most controversial. This side project again only released one album, Misguided, and received numerous reviews, both positive and negative.

He had also collaborated with American illusionist, Criss Angel, and worked on an industrial band called Angeldust until 1998, after the release of their first and only album together – Musical Conjurings from the World of Illusions – they disbanded, with their final three albums in the works being connected to Angel alone.

The same year as Misguided came out, Klayton re-released his self-titled album of Circle of Dust, and not too long after that, or at least officially in 1998, R.E.X Records fell into bankruptcy and would not release their signed acts until after the company fell apart. As I have previously mentioned in numerous Features of the Day  and reviews in regards to Scott Albert’s work as Celldweller and Scandroid, after the announcement of Celldweller’s last album, End of Empire, it was last year that Albert/Klayton finally won the battle of regaining the rights to his work as Circle of Dust. Through fans signing up with Circle of Dust’s official newsletter, which can be found above, we saw the work of progress, right up to until the release date. Circle of Dust’s self-entitled album was officially released 8th March 2016.

Included in the remastered edition, in a second disc filled with instrumentals, a remix by close friend and collaborative partner of Celldweller, Blue Stahli and an acoustic version one of a main track.
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Exploration – Redux takes the direction of operatic ambience, fusing a soothing atmosphere with distorted clunking noises, sampling the sounds notoriously recognized in real life industrial settings, before drawing electronic and metal instrumentation into the equation and voice recordings of NASA transmissions discussing the exploration of space, with hints to a dystopian future of earth’s demise. As previously jested to in a Feature of the Day, Exploration – Redux is the predecessor of the later Ursula Minor, a track that would feature on Voices in my Head Vol 1 (2008).

Onenemy is more explicitly IDM (intelligence dance music), the defining genre of Industrial, and metal, with there being definite emphasis on the electronic guitars and drums, and to complement Klayton’s sluggish vocals, the synthesizers are drawn and spaced out. This particular track contains the very essence of what the much later nu-metal will come to be – specifically the sound of Linkin Park in their early work, the genre not coming into formation until 1993, with the bands Korn and Thousand Foot Krutch being pioneering bands of its defined sound. However industrial bands such as Circle of Dust have been acknowledged to have helped in its development, as have they also with Christian metal. The acoustic version, featured on the very end of the album is a quiet conclusion to the album and was in fact originally a demo of the final version. Klayton’s acapella is enhanced by strong acoustic guitars, with country/folk twist and soft synthesizers.

Demoralise is filled with distorted electronics, voice samples and heavy, thrash and death metal influences, with chopped at in parts, growling vocals, reminiscence of early metal acts Motorhead, Black Sabbath, and early contributions of death/doom, Anathema. The synthesized areas later in the song compile dark ambient and the predecessor of progressive metal.  Self-Inflict is again a thick concoction of industrial, IDM and metal, however more focused on the electronic side on the composition, and seems to be the most experimental/playful of the track-listing so far.

Rational Lies follows on from the undercurrents of Self-Inflict, with the focus on industrial, and interestingly the opening compilation, and the ambient vocals sampled, strongly resembles the later works of Hughes Hall, who would later go to compose an short industrial track for the neo-noir film Dark City (1998), called Sleep Now, featured in the trailer. This track, as well as Nightfall also introduces us to the early works of what would become Celldweller’s debut album, released in 2003, a decade on.  Nightfall, switches up the dynamics, by throwing in acoustic keyboards and harmonizing vocals, which shows that as Scott Albert worked on this album, confidence in his abilities were expressed during the making, as he previously spoke of his work as Circle of Dust were his first experience making electronic music, and he was finding his footing as he went.

Twisted Reality’s direction is distinctively heavy and thrash metal, with electronic music supporting as percussion, and features distorted voice samples again. Klayton’s newer installments to the Circle of Dust, with the likes of Contagion (2016) and the Jericho remix from the End of an Empire (2015), it’s this sound that has influenced his later pieces, and the same is said for Consequence, with chugging guitars not too dissimilar from what would become djent, and an incredible strength of the overall bass. Consequence also has moments of ambient rock, and composition alone can be compared to the works of the current Lunatic Soul, the side project of Mariusz Duda, founder of progressive metal band Riverside (2001 – present).

Dissolved was composed ahead of its time in my opinion, as amongst the IDM, industrial and metal instrumentals, the distorted effects used on Klayton’s voice, is not heard again until a decade on, in the 2002 release of world ambient duo, Deep Forest’s Music Detected, with their international hit track Endangered Species, within the original length and French house remix by Galleon. Whilst the likes of industrial and house are on the opposite sides of the electronic music spectrum, house originating from EB/DM (electronic body/dance music), similar to how Klayton went on to combine EBM and IDM music into his Celldweller project in the late 90s, ED/BM and IDM have been co-existing since their formation, and continue to co-exist, and influence/rub off on each other, creatively.

Nothing Sacred is another track that can be seen as an influence to the modern nu/aggro-metal sound, and in this instance, can see the dynamics of gothic metal, a genre that came into existence in 1991 with Paradise Lost ‘Gothic’ album, and a genre which Circle of Dust has come to represent in part; for this particular track in much slower, and darker in tone and lyrical content. The remix, credited to Blue Stahli, takes the gothic metal track into a lighter direction, with the inclusion and electronic rock and EDM, but without losing the disturbed elements of the lyrics.

Parasite is the up-tempo companion piece of Exploration, and could even be similar to Klayton’s reworking of previous tracks later on in his carrier, reworkings being found on his Voice in my Head Vol albums, and the deluxe edition of End of an Empire and its early extended plays with the ‘Faction’ series. This companion piece however, more metal orientated than the first track, and could be suggested to be an extension of that track in particular.

Bed of Nails is a solely an electronic piece, with multiple distorted sounds and samples to give an ambient setting, while the lyrical content speaks of someone struggling with reality, repeated over and over. The direction of this song, is once again comparable to the later works of progressive metal band, Riverside, with their first three albums; Out of Myself (2003), Second Life Syndrome (2005) Rapid Eye Movement (2007), and their extended play Voices in my Head (2005). Throughout their conceptual trilogy, distortions of instrumentals and voices were used throughout.

Neophyte follows the narrative of extraterrestrial life, and space travel, similar to Exploration – Redux, it takes the musical form of Dissolved with its IDM composition, with EDM leniency and this track in particular is the most ‘dance’ orientated track on the album, as it is up-beat and had the potential to be found in ED/BM and IDM inclined night clubs, very much like Klayton’s work on his Celldweller and Scandroid projects. Even the metal instrumental parts are not as powerful, their presence are more undertones, supporting rather than co-joining with the electronic sound.

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Pre-order the mastered Brainchild at FiXT Store, the official release on 29th April 2016.

Circle of Dust

 

 

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