AURAL DEVASTATION is a regular column about heavy music. This month, Circle Takes the Square awaken from an eight-year slumber and Sweden’s gothic masters Ghost return from their spectral hideout, plus tracks from KEN Mode, Kvelertak, and Shai Hulud.



Circle Takes the Square – Decompositions



Eight years ago, the Savannah, Georgia screamo/thrash/post-hardcore outfit Circle Takes the Square dropped As the Roots Undo on this mortal world , andpopulations of head-banging enthusiasts went nuts accordingly. The dual shrieks of vocalists Drew Speziale and Kathy Coppola over guitars centered in thrash and drums focused on grind elements were enough to make CTTS the new saviours of hardcore, bringing new relevance to the ill-titled ‘screamo’ genre and really just delivering a critically flawless ass-kicking to the ear drums of anyone who wanted to take part.

And then it turned out that Circle Takes the Square were merely human beings, since it’d been close to eight years since the band put out any new material. They sure as hell toured in-between, but their “reported” second full-length was starting to sound more and more like Chinese Screamocracy, an oft-mentioned holy lore of music more suitable as a reference in the newest Indiana Jones film than in reality.

But weary no more, treasure seekers — because Circle Takes the Square is finally back. They started a very successful Kickstarter campaign, and the final product, Decompositions, has finally seen the light. The entire album is up on the band’s Bandcamp page at a name-your-own-price steal, and the vinyl is expected to be pressed and available in early 2013. Lets hope that doesn’t turn into early 2021…


KEN Mode – “The Promises of God”
Canada is awesome — if for the fact that the Juno Award, their equivalent of the Grammys, isn’t a laughable joke like ours is. While KEN Mode won the Juno award in 2012, this is who our Grammy went to. Fitting then that the Winnipeg-based thrashers came back with Entrench this year, the album picking right up where they were before — absolutely pissed off.


Kvelertak – “Bruane Brenn”
These absolutely belligerent Norwegians are back with an album only one year after releasing their self-titled debut. With Meir, their first for Warner Brothers’ imprint Roadrunner Records, Kvelertak isn’t as over-the-top with their unabashed enthusiasm for Southern-style swampy hard rock. All in all, it isn’t as fun as their debut album, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Kvelertak came raging across the Atlantic like few metal bands have in recent years, but Kvelertak are at their best when they are ridiculous. Luckily, Meir has more than its fair share of moments for that.


Ghost – “Secular Haze”
Just a couple years ago, a group of mysterious-robed figures led by an evil priest burst onto Sweden’s metal scene. To this day, no one still has any idea as to what the true identities of Ghost are, but what is for sure is that few metal bands have a more highly anticipated follow-up to churn out in 2013. The byproduct of an archaic record deal from a major label, Infesstisumam is already slowly sounding what you’d expect from Ghost: very evil, very Black Sabbath and Mercyful Fate-influenced, very awesome. The band has released the first track on the album, in anticipation of its 2013 release.

Infesstisumam Tracklisting


Shai Hulud – “A Human Failing”
Sixteen years ago, a group from Florida nerded out in the burgeoning metal scene with a band name straight from Dune and song titles that put the band squarely in need of some severe anger management help programs. At the time, featuring New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert on vocals, Shai Hulud was metalcore before the genre exaludaisted. Matt Fox’s off-kilter riffs combined with Gilbert’s passion and throaty yell blew all the other bands in the scene out of the water. Then metalcore became less about metal and more about the ‘core part of the equation, and Shai Hulud had unwittingly spawned legions of Hot Topic mallcore bands in its wake.

It has been five years of inactivity, but Shai Hulud are back on the map with Reach Beyond the Sun. The band shook the foundations of hardcore sixteen years ago, and once again featuring Gilbert on vocals, Reach Beyond the Sun really hearkens back to that time as though nothing has changed — to a time when the only thing required in life is to be pissed off at anything and everything. It hearkens back to a time in life when metalcore was a legitimate genre, and Shai Hulud were doing it better than everyone else.



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