It’s fitting to me that this band calls themselves When Icarus Falls. If you remember the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus, an imprisoned father and son used wax and feathers to make wings to escape their lofty incarceration. It worked out for dad, but Icarus, in a bit of hubris, flew too close to the sun, melting the wax that held his wings together, and fell into the sea.
So it is with When Icarus Falls. The musical themes are good, and the lyrics very much filled with pathos. Although ambitious and dexterous, Circles seems to be too much of a mouthful for the band to chew smoothly. Somehow, at least to me, it just ends up a little flat.
When I first got this album, I thought what I might have a problem with were the vocals. They’re very black metal. I don’t usually mind this, but the music didn’t seem to accompany it that well. Upon repeated listens, this proved to actually be a strength. I began enjoying the strained yells within the context of the songs. It makes When Icarus Falls stand out, and showcases vocalist Diego Mendiano’s skill in conveying emotion. Even in the yells, he’s subtle.
For such a heavyish album, Circles is very progg-ish. This is where the wax starts to melt. It feels like some of the progressiveness, both musically and thematically, comes at expense to the overall flow and vibe of the ep. This is especially true in the opening and closing tracks of the four songs on this release, Celestial Bodies and Nyx (remixed). Momentum just seems to be shaved down, in a trade of with drama and complexity.
This Lausanne, Swiss five piece is obviously capable of big things. The production is very well done and the scope feels almost right. The drums are killer. Guitar interplay is tense, and these guys can get pretty heavy. In a laudable feat, the bass is mixed well enough to be audible throughout. Keyboards are central at times, but never over dominate the mix.
Circles just miss the mark a few times, trying to attain a little too much. The result is an enjoyable but uneven ep that lacks staying power. You can’t ever fault anyone for aiming high though, and luckily the band doesn’t pay the price of the titular figure. I’ll be very interested to hear the results when they fly again.