Callenish Circle ‎– [Pitch.Black.Effects]

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Tracklist

This Day You Regret 4:32
Ignorant 4:20
Behind Lines 3:35
Schwarzes Licht 4:51
Sweet Cyanide 4:31
Blind 4:52
Guess Again 4:01
Self-Inflicted 5:50
As You Speak 4:09
Pitch Black 2:40

Versions (6)

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
CD 3984-14556-2 Callenish Circle [Pitch.Black.Effects](CD, Album, Enh) Metal Blade Records CD 3984-14556-2 Europe 2005 Sell This Version
3984-14556-0 Callenish Circle [Pitch.Black.Effects](CD, Album, Enh + DVD-V, PAL + Ltd) Metal Blade Records 3984-14556-0 Germany 2005 Sell This Version
CD 3984-14556-2 Callenish Circle [Pitch.Black.Effects](CD, Album, Enh, Promo) Metal Blade Records CD 3984-14556-2 Germany 2005 Sell This Version
FO547CD Callenish Circle [Pitch.Black.Effects](CD, Album) Фоно FO547CD Russia 2006 Sell This Version
MBCY-1058 Callenish Circle [Pitch.Black.Effects](CD, Album) Metal Blade Records MBCY-1058 Japan 2006 Sell This Version
3984-14556-2 Callenish Circle [Pitch.Black.Effects](CD, Album, Enh) Metal Blade Records 3984-14556-2 US 2006 Sell This Version

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c.stone634

c.stone634

December 10, 2019
referencing [Pitch.Black.Effects], CD, Album, Enh, CD 3984-14556-2
I grew up in the Noughties. I heard just about everything there was to hear on the radio, and since then I've listened to at least a little bit of everything else. In particular I've listened to just about every notable metal band from the era, and some not so notable ones, of which Callenish Circle is one. And out of all that music, this is it. A humble dutch metal band whose biggest claim to fame is being featured in the outro of the Angry Joe Show has on this slab of plastic crafted the best album of the entire 2000s, and probably the magnum opus of modern metal. No, not Lateralus, not City of Evil, not Life in Cartoon Motion, but [Pitch.Black.Effects] by Callenish bloody Circle.

And they've left not a trace. The band broke up in 2007, their website is down, to my knowledge the band members have done nothing in music since, and the only time they've come up out and about was when I was watching Children of Bodom at Bloodstock this year and they sampled the spoken intro to My Hate Unfolds. To top it off, Angry Joe has been losing fans for about 5 years. No one knows this album or band exist.

So what is this album? Well, it's death metal, with electronic/synth elements, and this wide open, atmospheric, sort of cyberpunk-futuristic soundscape. That's the best I can describe what appears in my mind when I hear it. None of this gets in the way of the absolutely crushing riffs, masterful, seamlessly flowing and emotive guitar solos (Megadeth who?), extremely technically competent and varied drumming, and great mix. The songwriting is solid on a level the genre hasn't seen before or since The Sound of Perseverance by Death. Each song holds up remarkably on its own. Even the atmospheric, interlude-y closer is an enjoyable listen in its own right, with Ronny Tijssen's guitar fading in and out over the repeating synth melody, as though you'd asked a virtuoso with nothing to prove to play over it. I'm even justified in calling it an interlude, as it fades to the same Morse code that opens the first track, meaning the album more or less loops perfectly.

This track perfectly exemplifies the band's understanding of when less is more, which is very rare for a death metal band. This shows up on most tracks; a common structure they use is working the backing for the solo into a bridge in an earlier part of the song, letting you appreciate the strength of that groove on its own, before adding the solo in when they bring it back later. The feeling when you can tell the solo is about to hit and that they don't even have to play anything cool over the backing for it to sound good, but you know they will anyway, is just phenomenal. One of those musical moments that makes you smile even when listening to it in public. The drums play a huge part in this too; so many contemporary death metal bands are a total write-off based solely on the fact that the drummer doesn't know when to stop the blast beat. It's like they're all trying to join DragonForce, but forgot the part where you need to be technically competent to join DragonForce. Gavin Harte understands on this album exactly what pattern or fill is needed when, building up the tension brilliantly by adding more kick drum or cymbals to his rolling barrage at the opportune moments. He perfectly matches the intensity of the solos, adding his own flair to the instrumental sections without being overpowering. I'd love to comment on the bass, but aside from when it's adding some flavour to the guitar parts, or just generally filling out the low end of the mix, it's unfortunately not very noticeable. This is a common problem with modern metal album production, but it doesn't feel "missing" or as though the album is worse off for its absence. Perhaps Maurice Brouwers is doing exactly what he needs to here, and nothing more.

Ah, the lyrics. Callenish Circle are obviously not native English speakers, and it shows. Grammatical errors are fairly prolific, and otherwise meaningful passages often get capped off by a not-quite-appropriate cliche. For example: "Your courageous insanity follows/Indefinable ways of your infinite mind/Temperature's rising fast/Minutes before your world collide". By contrast, this same track (Self-Inflicted) has the awesome line "Trapped by the conscience you never new you possessed", which the band brilliantly lets hang in the air as they follow it up with a slow-paced riff section. The album liner notes inform me that the majority of the lyrics are written by Ronny the guitarist, and Patrick Savelkoul is of course on "Vo-Kills". 2005 was a blessed time. To be honest, it's not an inaccurate description; Pat's variety of screaming tones match the lyrics and the rest of the music perfectly and are certainly killer. The album's only other black spot is at the end of Blind, where a horrendous high-pitched sound sets in that always demands a decrease in volume. I'm to assume they didn't mean it to be so ear-piercing. If in doubt blame the mastering engineer.

To summarise: [Pitch.Black.Effects], although not flawless, is a fantastically unique and brilliantly executed take on the Death Metal genre, the only remotely comparable thing being their previous albums. Although it never will, this album deserves to be widely recognised as one of the finest achievements in modern metal, and the best use of the sounds of the 2000s that there ever was. From front to back, this album will have you stuck between headbanging your brains out, grinning like an idiot and shedding a tear. Five f*cking stars. If you don't feel the same, turn it up. Just make sure to turn it back down at the end of Blind.