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Heretoir - The Circle (2017) - Review

Band: Heretoir
Album title: The Circle
Release date: 24 March 2017
Label: Northern Silence Productions

01. Alpha
02. The White
03. Inhale
04. Golden Dust
05. My Dreams Are Lights In The Sky
07. Exhale
08. Eclipse
09. Laniakea Dances (Soleils Couchants)
10. Fading With The Grey
11. The Circle (Omega)

Lately quite some bands showed that the things in post-"anything"-metal are not said and done yet, and one of most important representatives of this are Germans Heretoir. I must admit that this new album of theirs is my first encounter with this extraordinary band who released their eponymous debut album six years ago. However, Heretoir were formed by David “Eklatanz” C. back in 2006, became a full band soon after the release of debut album, when Matthias S. (bass), Max F. (guitar) and Emanuel D. (drums) joined the line-up, and the band started to share the stages with big names such as Agalloch, Alcest, Dornenreich, Eluveitie, Graveworm, Sólstafir or Secrets Of The Moon. In 2012 they released the EP named Substanz and then 5 years of intensive work followed. Meanwhile in 2016 Emanuel D. left the band and Nils G. became the new drummer. Now their groundbreaking sophomore album entitled The Circle is ready to be launched into this mad world and I'm sure that with this one Heretoir will gain much deserved recognition.

The Circle is very complex album combining many different elements into one highly atmospheric, emotional and coherent sonic form which shines right because of its refined versatility. In its basis Heretoir deal with post-metal, black metal and melodic progressive metal, I can say that it's like a missing link between early Alcest, Katatonia, Amorphis, Opeth, Agalloch and Agrypnie to name a few, but they implement their atmospheric sound with small amounts of shoegaze, djent, ambient and prog rock. It can be so very dense, extreme and powerful, but also so very soothing, melancholic, almost gentle, often very rhythmic but performed with amazing technical and compositional skill, with a delicate feeling for sensitivity.

Musically Heretoir on this album shows a big progression if compared to their debut album, they really did big things on this one. With constantly very captivating melodic lines, powerful drumming, intense guitar riffs, leads and bass lines, some enchanting acoustic insertions, soft ambiental synths hidden in the background adding the necessary dark layer, and of course throughout very strong vocals, the band is weaving crushing heaviness and atmospheric dreaminess in the album that portrays an emotional journey. Eklatanz delivers a very intriguing mix of many different singing approaches, from shrieks, harsh vocals, to diverse clean singing variations, never becoming dull, with carefully chosen moments when something should be and it's used. To make it even more interesting it features guest vocals by Alcest mastermind Stéphane “Neige” Paut on the track "Laniakea Dances (Soleils Couchants)", plus some spoken female vocals on the track "Fading With The Grey" to add some magic to the whole ambiance.

The whole structure of The Circle and its eleven tracks has some kind of an interesting pathos that goes from more complex progressive parts, to dreamy atmospheric soundscapes, aggressive but harmonic escapades, sometimes almost avantgardish song structures, until reaching the absolute climax in the absolutely epic last track named "The Circle (Omega)", with one of the best immersive choruses I've heard lately in this genre. The lyrics on the album deal with the cycle of life, death and rebirth, it's about existence, self-reflection, fears and dreams – life in all its facets. It is a musical universe set for the discovery of one’s deepest thoughts and the soul that rests in each of us.

The Circle is a real masterpiece from every possible aspect, not only from musical side, which is so very dynamic, sometimes lush and solemn, but as well the marginal things like for example the artwork done by Fursy Teyssier (Les Discrets, ex-Amesoeurs) is amazing and deepens the whole adventure this album offers. The production is at least decent if not great, it's clear, adds some kind of heaviness, maybe just some more depth wouldn't hurt, but still it doesn't ruin anything. Heretoir's The Circle is an outstanding symbiosis of many facets, it needs a huge talent of every involved musician to create such a mesmerizing sonic amalgam that will take the one who dares to enter its realms onto a voyage full of beauty, emotion and immense darkness in and above us.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10