Circles Over Sidelights - What Is And What Is To Become (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Circles Over Sidelights

What Is And What Is To Become (2004)

Immigrant Sun

Circles Over Sidelights impressed me earlier this year with their debut full-length, On Becoming A Person…. Though it wasn't groundbreaking or entirely original, they did the Swedish-influenced metalcore thing very well. The age of the members, which I'm sure they're sick of hearing about, also surprised me. These guys wrote a strong CD and they were just out of high school. On their follow-up release, What Is And What Is To Become, the band could have stuck with that same style; I wouldn't have minded a bit. However, not wanting to be pigeonholed, this time around they shot for something a bit more ambitious.

While the band's debut was fun to listen to, this disc adds a lot more depth to their sound. The addition of a third guitarist is utilized perfectly, and they even threw in a sax on a couple of the tracks. Instead of the straightforward metalcore I was expecting, I got longer, building tracks that use ambience and soft interludes. I don't know if someone passed along the Hydra Head catalog to these guys, but their sound certainly is leaning more towards that label's roster than it is towards conventional metalcore. Circles Over Sidelights now make use of huge walls of sound, with droning guitars and vocals that seem a bit lower in the mix. Each guitarist is doing their own thing, but each part fits together perfectly, until they all seemingly smash together when the band hits its stride. There are still thrashy passages, and often times the band simply explodes into a furious pace after pulling the listener in. Much like Converge has been able to do, each of these tracks interlock with one another, yet every song is strong enough to stand on its own. That alone is impressive.

I always talk about potential, especially with new or younger bands, and I realized that these guys had it in them after hearing their first release. This EP only confirms that, and hints at what they could do further down the road. Five songs in 32 minutes could have been boring, and this band could have come off sounding amateurish, but instead they sound like seasoned veterans, much like they did when they were playing standard metalcore. I'm really interested in seeing what else this band is capable of, and I hope they will continue to progress with each subsequent release.