From just the initial listens of A Favour For A Stranger, the new EP from alternative rockers Circle Of Reason you can feel this is a band with all the promise and ingredients to be a big force certainly in the UK rock scene ahead. The three track release is a compulsive slice of well-crafted melodic rock and boisterous energy honed with a fine progressive intent. The band has been compared to the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Silverchair, Muse, and Queens of The Stone Age, in varying ways to which you can easily add Biffy Clyro and Inme. Circle Of Reason have their own template of sound though which sets them apart from the majority of similarly gaited bands and leaves a sense of excitement for their future whilst giving plenty of pleasure in the now.
The Southampton band was formed in 2009 and has made a steady progress building a strong presence in the South West of England also reaching further afield. Renowned for their live shows which has seen them alongside bands such as Girlschool, Fighting with Wire, Freeze the Atlantic, Landscapes, Idiom, Rumer, and The Smoking Hearts across the UK, the quartet of vocalist/guitarist Simon Osman, guitarist Gary Slade, bassist Sam Cogher, and drummer Andy Milwain, have now set down a marker with the new release which has to be the platform for them to go forth and seize major recognition. It is an impressive aural base camp to venture forward with further invention from, exploration of headier heights in their own evolving creative hands.
The release consists of two previous video singles, which have garnered good play and attention from the likes of Kerrang! TV, Scuzz, and Lava TV, and a third track which is their new video single released to coincide with the EP. Chasing the Sun starts things off with big riffs and dazzling guitar play, a major feature of all three songs. Into its stride the song relaxes into a slightly reserved air as vocalist Osman joins the already intriguing song. He is a strong vocalist who especially excels when raising his vocal energies, though less striking when keeping it low key. He was also the cause of ignoring the majority of the song and release during the first couple of plays, as concentration could only be focused on who he sounded like. It is one of those frustrations which have to be alleviated with an answer before moving on, and thankfully, eventually it revealed itself. I have read him compared to Kurt Cobain (?) but actually he is a dead ringer for Paul Marsh from eighties band The Mighty Lemon Drops; of course that will mean nothing to most but just had to bring relief and closure to the ‘problem’. The song fires up throughout into strong melodic flames musically and in mass harmonies which leave the senses smouldering with contentment and glowing from the outstanding and precise guitar invention. Arguably still the weakness track on the release the excellent song is a deeply engaging piece of enterprise.
Sea Of Voices is a feistier proposition, striking sinewy riffs grabbing eager attention whilst Osman sweeps through the song vocally nicely backed up by the rest of the band with group harmonies. The song is a thumping stomp with the rhythms of Milwain forming a formidable frame for the basslines of Cogher to badger and guitars of Osman and Slade to incite and dazzle. The progressive intent of the band is at its creative fullness on the track with a wonderful though brief magnetically whispering aside of peaceful melodic grandeur stepping forward before the fiery climax. Everything is in perfect proportion in the songs, the riotous riffs, impacting rhythms, and emotive melodic beauty finding a seamless place in the overall impressive energetic contagion without bleeding into or overwhelming their companions, this song the thrilling example.
The release is completed by the latest single Silver Scene, a track which alone shows why the band is being talked so highly of. Again blending the sturdiest rock and metal riffs with a bruising intensity and infectious melodic invention all brought with unmistakable skill, the song is an irresistible weave of imagination and thoughtful songwriting. From first note to last it is an inventive lure for the passions and inciter of emotions, a mischievous conveyor of barbed hooks and impossible to refuse rock n roll. Other than an opening few seconds where the levels feel smothered compared to the rest of the song, it is a near perfect treat and like the other songs the basis for great anticipation of big things ahead for the band.
A Favour For A Stranger is an excellent EP which just gets better and better with every listen whilst raising hopes that Circle Of Reason has an album in the works for the near future. This is a band you should treat yourselves too very soon.
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