Review – In Circles We Die

Source: Doomed & Stoned (By Hugo Guzman)

The first song off HEAVYDEATH’s latest effort, ‘In Circles We Die’ (2016), is as blunt and self-evident as their name. “As We Foretold” opens with diabolic droning, furious growls, pounding drums, and hypnotic feedback. Although I’m sure plenty of naysayers are already telling me that death-doom is overdone and over with, the first minute of this album proves those guys don’t know shit.

Heavydeath have carved quite a niche for themselves since their debut in 2014. The Runemagick veterans earned top marks from critics with their 2015 full-length, Eternal Sleepwalker (read our take here). While a few reviewers drew issue with its no-frills approach to death-doom (understandable, given death-doom pioneers often drew on other genres to round out their sound), In Circles We Die proves that HEAVYDEATH doesn’t need any crutches when it comes to making their sound unique.

Case in point? Track two: “Slumbering Monolith.” What starts as slow, methodical doom quickly gives way to a torrent of riffage that had me headbanging and jamming out in raw daylight! As the song progressed, I felt as if I really was discovering some ancient, sleeping monument — and it was most definitely waking up. In a genre full of songs either about or named after some kind of monolith, it’s always great to encounter a band that can still move me to embarrass myself in public.

In Circles We Die is full of moments like this. From the title track’s monastic vocals, to Nicklas Rudolfsson’s epic and soaring guitar-work on “Into Death’s Black Void,” this album decorates its heavy death metal with many memorable moments that have me returning for repeated listens. Another big favorite from this album is the closer, “The Fallen One.” I’m not a huge fan of unnecessary build-up, but this song only gives itself the build-up that’s absolutely necessary before unleashing glorious hell on my eardrums.

But then, “The Fallen One” isn’t really the last track on this epic work. If you pick up the album from Bandcamp, you’ll get two extra tracks, “The Old One” and “Fatal Reflection.” Both are seriously solid tracks that err on the doom side of death-doom, but “Fatal Reflection” is the real standout. I actually think it was meant to be the actual album closer. Its ending is so satisfying! Although I know Heavydeath still has plenty to say, given the frequency of their releases, “Fatal Reflection” is such a great closer that I can’t help but feel a sense of finality after that final riff.

I’m a big death-doom fan — yes, even Anathema, despite their journey to the dark realm of alternative rock. Heavydeath is one of the most exciting acts in the genre and I can’t get over how they’ve refined their no-nonsense approach to the craft. In Circles We Die is definitely worth picking up, especially the Bandcamp versions. Don’t miss out on those bonus tracks!