Circle Of Indifference – Shadows Of Light (2014) – Sometimes I don’t mind throwing a bone to smaller bands, especially when they’re doing a great job as with this release. Circle Of Indifference is essentially a one man melodic death metal project that utilizes several session musicians and vocalists from across the globe. Swedish mastermind Dagfinn Ovstrud is responsible for all of the drum programming, bass and keyboards featured on the disc; while Brandon Leigh Polaris (Voidspawn) recorded all of the vocal work from his home in Belgium. It’s comparable to the same process that we use in crafting Torii albums and it’s very efficient for musicians these days. Additionally, Tyler Teeple provides the leads from his home in Canada and Aybars Altay provided the cover artwork and remixed one of the album’s tracks to follow near the end. Finally, Nikki Money provided vocals on “Darkness 5:05” from her home in the US. Now as for how it all stacks up, the result is surprisingly potent. Shadows Of Light is actually a strong debut effort and it shows the musicians playing well with each other despite their geographical differences, which truly shows that we all have something in common when it comes to making this kind of music, despite how far away we might be from each other. Tyler’s leads definitely make their mark on the release as Dagfinn’s bass crunches certainly add the right amount of groove to the mix, which makes most of the solos truly pop out. Tyler Teeple’s lead and solo work make up most of the high points on the record and there’s no doubt in my mind that he is an astounding fucking guitarist, as the album truly showcases. Shadows Of Light is truly brackish, as it fills with angrily pounding drums to back Brandon’s ravenous vocal elements and even some clean lines as featured on “Walk With Me 4:16” which additionally has a killer set of melodic leads and an amazing chorus that I’m actually kind of jealous of. The album stays in its own element, but definitely adds something extra to each of the songs, whether that be more of a groove metal approach or something more akin to brutal death, or even electronics, atmosphere or the use of female vocals. It’s definitely an experimental release and offers something that I like to hear every now and again as a breath of fresh air. When you listen to as many albums as I have on a daily basis, it becomes increasingly easier to tell exactly who is going to stand out and Circle Of Indifference was once again; one of those discs that I knew I had to review. There’s just as much Scar Symmetry (minus the clean vocals) as there is Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Soilwork and the others from that gamut. Additionally, you’ll also hear some Sybreed influence “Evil 6:42” which you could also lump in with The Project Hate. Shadows Of Light is truly a mixed bag with loads of promise and it proves the power of international file sharing in lieu of recording. The fact that one man can record his guitars, while another can record his bass and drums, while another can record his vocals and it can all be mixed together in the most professional manner possible truly shows the amazing might of technology. We’ve destroyed the entire idea of recording together in a studio, which I think makes it a bit easier and more focused; not to mention a bit more relaxing (even though it can still be quite taxing, the scars on my vocal chords can tell you that) than being all cramped together as in the early days. Fans of melodic death metal will definitely want to get their hands on this exquisite release, which probably got buried in the sea of other metal albums (as is usually the case). I wouldn’t be recommending it if I wasn’t so much a fan of melodic death metal, but many of you know that that is indeed not the case as it is definitely one of my personal favorite heavy metal subgenres. It may not be as solo-riffic and melodic as some of the Touhou laden versions of the genre, but it’s really close and it captures the Swedish sound just as we’d expect to hear it. It’s much better than what some of the heavy hitters have already put out this year, so definitely give it a purchase and a spin.
(13 Tracks, 59:00)