|Review: Circle Of Nero - Demo 2003|
Year released: 2003
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: March 4, 2004
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Rated 4/5 (80%) (1 Vote)
OK. Metal Crypt 101: Here's what happens when a band writes to offer their CD for review: I usually check their web site for sound samples to ensure that the band is metal (or at the very least, good hard rock) in the first place (attempted "nu-metal" invasions are somewhat frequent, I even got a rap band once...) So having never heard of Circle of Nero, I proceeded to check a couple of songs. Sounded metal enough, pretty good even. So how does one explain that 10 seconds into the first song, I wanted to throw this CD away? Simple: For some unfathomable reason, this CD kicks off with a "nu-metal" song. That's right. My ears! Somehow this didn't add up, so I took a couple of aspirins, made sure the barf bag was close by, and closed my eyes while waiting for this song to end. I think I even started praying after 3 minutes. Anyway. The second song still seemed to have some "nu" influences, but tolerable this time (but definitely not something I'd listen to on a regular basis.) OK... 3rd song. Whoa... Hello. That's more like it. Suddenly the band turns more progressive (hmmm... yeah, I know, even silence is more progressive than nu-puke, but stay with me here), and not bad progressive at that, with a little melodic, slightly commercial edge (in the good sense of the term.) Other than for the first two songs, this album is actually pretty good (I'd say the songs rank from good to excellent at this point.) What possessed them into putting some nu-puke crap at the beginning of this album, I don't know. Trying to get market share? That rarely works. Experimenting? If you're going to experiment, experiment with talent, not doing disposable junk. Alright, I think I made my point, so let's move on and just ignore the first two songs...
This demo contains an interesting mix of progressive and thrash, with vocals varying from very clean to more extreme, almost melodic death-ish - plus the fake-angst in the first song (yeah, I know I'd ignore the first two songs, but I lied.) Some sound effects here and there that I think don't bring too much to the songs, in fact at times I'd say it even hurts the material, but not enough to lose sleep over it either - it kind of grows on you with time (or at least it can be phased out by just ignoring it :)). Unfortunately some of the vocal effects sometimes bring nu-pukeness to mind, but not bad enough to ruin a good song. What really shines here is the diversity of the material, from very mellow to very aggressive, but still the whole thing flows very well together (yes, this time I am ignoring the nu-puke stuff.) There's stuff here to appeal to fans of hard rock, heavy metal, progressive metal and even more extreme genres as well (at the lower end of that spectrum, however.) Some damn fine guitar work on some of these tracks, I must add... And you get everything from "acoustic" to razor-sharp riffs, with some heavier downtuned stuff for those into that kind of stuff. "Diverse" is really the appropriate one-word descriptor for this demo.
I don't recall ever hearing a metal cover of Pink Floyd's "The Wall", but this is how this CD ends, and I must say that almost makes up for the horrible beginning. While I still prefer the original version, Circle of Nero have done a nice job putting their own touch and metalizing this a little bit.
I almost make it sound as if I don't like this, but serves the band well for including the crap at the beginning. This can turn into a very good album if you make a copy of the original that excludes the couple of crappy songs... Yeah I think I'll do that, otherwise I might never give this another listen just to avoid the junk. Anyway, your mileage may vary, I'm known to be totally intolerant to nu-puke and this review is testament to that. I hope Circle of Nero will steer into the right direction for the full-length album and stick to what they're good at, because there is more than enough proof on this CD that these guys are very talented - but please don't try the easy way to "success" by whoring yourselves into a talentless genre that's hopefully nothing more than a dying trend. Stick to the real stuff because that's where the real fans, not the trend hoppers, are. Final words: Worth checking out.
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