Friday, 3 April 2015

Circle Takes The Square

Circle Takes The Square are a screamo/post-hardcore/a mess of genres band from Savannah, Georgia that formed in 2000. They are the brainchild of vocalist/guitarist Drew Speziale and vocalist/bassist Kathleen Stubelek, who have been the band's only two consistent members. Circle Takes The Square are a name often brought up when discussing the "classics" or "essentials" of screamo, alongside pg.99, Orchid, Jeromes Dream, etc. Although those phrases can certainly be applied to them, they are stylistically very different from any of their contemporaries.

Their entire reputation is basically built around one album, As The Roots Undo. This is for good reason, since it could be argued that this is the greatest screamo/post-hardcore album released. One word comes to mind when thinking of this album: frenzied. Their songs can hop from grinding, distorted guitars with blast beats behind them to jazzy interludes, to a piano part, to acoustic passages with sing-song melodies, right back to scream-fests. And these changes often come as fast as a finger snap. Though there still are those post-rock build-ups in parts, other times songs can change direction in an instant and be back to that original tangent just as fast. The band makes full use of every dynamic imaginable, whether it be very quiet and atmospheric, or blisteringly intense. "Experimental" is an understatement when it comes to this album. Perhaps the only semi-consistent aspect about this is the dual vocals of Drew and Kathleen, which often entwine with each other, sometimes sounding incredibly sinister and others quite melodic, but always blended together perfectly. Also, this is one of the few albums where every song, from start to finish, matters just as much as the others (maybe with the exception of "Intro"). Every song on here offers something new, but also gives the listener a perfect idea of what Circle Takes The Square is all about. This is an album by a band that knew what it meant to think forward, and who were out to create something different to what their contemporaries were doing. And that is the exact result they got, and it has yet to be forgotten, even over 10 years later.

Circle Takes The Square disappeared for many years post-As The Roots Undo, but never formally broke up. Rumours about a new album were constantly thrown around, but nothing came to light until 2011. An EP, Decompositions Vol. 1, Rites of Initiation, was released. This ended up being the first half of their official full-length, which would be released a year later. It was titled Decompositions: Volume Number One, and came 8 years after their last full-length. Despite all that time, Circle Takes The Square still does all that made them so great initially just as well. However, this is still a band that has matured exponentially. The youthful frenzy is much more subdued, and intelligible riffs with more formal song structures are definitely more prominent here. The metal influence definitely peels in more, with songs opting for a more mid-tempo pulse. Overall, this is the sensible follow-up, and an incredible album on its own, it just doesn't have the influential acclaim that their debut does.

1. Our Need To Bleed
2. Eleven Owls Have Eyes
3. A Disclaimer To The Self
4. Comes With The Fall
5. Houdini Logic

1. Circle Takes The Square - Patchwork Neurology
2. Circle Takes The Square - We're Sustained By The Corpse Of A Fallen Constellation
3. pg.99 - Goodbye, Face
4. pg.99 - Calm Song

1. Intro
2. Same Shade As Concrete
3. Crowquill
4. In The Nervous Light Of Sunday
5. Interview At The Ruins
6. Non-Objective Portrait of Karma
7. Kill The Switch
8. A Crater To Cough In

1. Enter By The Narrow Gates
2. Spirit Narrative
3. Way of Ever-Branching Paths
4. The Ancestral Other Side
5. Prefaced By The Signal Fires
6. A Closing Chapter (Scarlet Rising)
7. Singing Vengeance Into Being
8. Arrowhead As Epilogue
9. North Star, Inverted


  1. This is a really great blog thank you for all your time and effort I have discovered so many new bands! It would be great if you could do Braid, Knapsack or Alexisonfire at some point! Keep up the good work !!!

  2. I second the call for Alexisonfire. They were so iconic during their time it's hard not to cover them.

  3. I agree with as the roots undo being the definitive screamo album. It's art of a very high calibre regardless of format or genre. If screamo were physics, that album is relativity theory, it's redefines what's possible