The Ominous Circle is a portugese death and doom metal quintet that went alarmingly unnoticed in the metal scene over the last couple of months despite releasing some astonishing tracks as part of the promotional process of their debut album Appaling Ascension. Influenced by the cavernous and warring types of death metal conceived by bands such as Portal and Incantation that saw a significant rise in popularity in the last few years, The Ominous Circle channels those influences into a songstructure-focussed approach that yields more than fruitful results. Dissonant guitars, crunchy growls and wonderfully creative drumming are at the core of the band’s sound and form crushing death hymns with those touches of brilliance that make these songs so memorable.
The Ominous Circle first presented themselves with From Endless Chasms, the second track on the album that follows the atmospheric opening constituted by Heart Girt with a Serpent. From Endless Chasms brings a truly explosive mix to the table that made me understand that this is a project that I will have to keep a close eye on. Melodic guitars quickly undulate as they are propelled forward by furious blastbeats and fronted by powerful growls. This song is a culmination of everything that makes this band special: A spot-on vocal performace that knows how to utilize different techniques to add nuace to a song, the delighfully diverse drumming and proficient tremolo picking woven into impactful riffs. My personal highlights on From Endless Chasms are certainly the very well utilized cymbals and the soaring guitar solo in the second half of the track.
Continuing on we have Poison Fumes and this song yet again proves this band’s impressive imagination. Booming drums and gritty guitars lead us into the song and precede a heavy groove-section. The song is already an impressive composition at this point but the godless chants that echo from the bottomless abyss that this band arose from put the finishing touch on this track. On this song I was also once again surprised by the drumming as some of the bleastbeats are played on the tom instead of the snare drum, which is something that I don’t remember ever hearing before. A bold experiment that, though a bit shaky on its feet, makes for a touch that really caught my attention.
This style of play is utilized once more at the end of the next full-fledged song on the album, A Gray Outcast, which is seperated from Poison Fumes by an atmospheric interlude in the form of Ateh Gibor Le Olam Adonai, which seems to be hebrew and translates to „You, O Lord, are mighty forever“. Another detail that adds to A Gray Outcast are the Gojira-esque guitarslides that the band employs to detail the doomy verses of this track before a climax around the halfway point of the song launches it back into a death metal flurry.
Despite being less adventurous on the remaining three tracks of the album, the band nevertheless displays an incredible sense for memorable and impressive songwriting. Appaling Ascension is a bold and blasphemous statement that earns The Ominous Circle a well deserved spot among the big names of the genre. This is the album that death-doom releases of this year will have to go toe-to-toe with and The Ominous Circle have set the bar quite high on this one.