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Callenish Circle: Forbidden Empathy

Holland's Callenish Circle have been on the scene since the early 1990's, and this 2 CD set Forbidden Empathy collects some of the bands early and rare material that proves to give old and new fans something to hold near and dear. Brought together here are the 1995 demo Lovelorn, the debut Drift of Empathy, the Escape EP, and the bands sophomore release from 1999 Graceful Yet Forbidding. While you can hear the growth of the band throughout this 2 CD set, the band still maintains a handle on their powerful and brutal blend of melodic death metal mixed with heavy thrash. At times the music is frightening, at times simply ass-kicking, but it never fails to raise the hairs on your back (if you have any!) with its brute force.

Lots of screaming and growling can be heard throughout this set, and depending on the tune you get either speed of light riffing or down and dirty gothic death sludge. Tunes like "Beyond" or "Broken" are prime aggressive death metal, with just enough melody in the arrangements to keep it interesting, while "No Reason" is fairly symphonic and will remind you a little of early Amorphis. The tunes from 1999's Graceful Yet Forbidding are the most mature sounding of the lot, and also perhaps the most savage, as the band seemed to really be finding their niche at this point, adding varied vocal patterns (even some cool female vocals in spots) and melodic instrumental harmonies to the mix. There's some pretty technical playing going on in "Silent Tears" as well as "Mirror of Serenity" , two cuts off of 1998's Escape EP, showing that the band were developing some impressive chops.

The early material which is featured on CD 2 might come across as a little raw and ragged unless you are perhaps a big fan of the band. Production wise, the demo material is obviously a bit rough, and the lead growling vocals are a tad too high up in the mix. Still, there is a certain feeling you get from hearing this material that the band was finding their way, especially on cuts like the atmospheric doom of "Mental Affection" and the plodding death brigade of "Slough of Despond", complete with brutal guitar riffs and blood curdling growls. There is a certain gothic or atmospheric sense to the earlier material that seems missing from the more recent songs that are on CD 1. On that same note, much of the thrash elements that are so prevalent on the newer tunes had not yet reared their head on the bands initial offerings. You'll also note that much of the earlier material seems to stay on one sonic level throughout each song, and lacks some of the variety that the band was able to come up with later on as they matured as writers.

If I can find one fault with this collection, it is that there is perhaps too much music to digest. Two jam packed CD's of early Callenish Circle is perfect for the hardcore fan, but may be a bit much for someone looking to explore the band. Best bet is to start with one of their more recent releases, like Flesh Power Dominion or My Passion Your Pain, then dive into this. There's a lot of music to take in here, but the set contains some prime melodic death metal floating amongst the grooves, from a band that was just starting to find their way.

Track Listing
CD 1
Graceful...Yet Forbidding (1999)
1. No Reason - (6.28)
2. Forgotten - (3.46)
3. Inner Battle - (1.15)
4. Beyond... - (3.55)
5. Broken - (5.57)
6. Oppressed Natives - (5.04)
7. Silent Tears - (6.31)
8. Passionate Dance - (1.05)
9. Caught By Deceit - (6.14)
10. Shadows of The Past - (3.59)
11. Alone... - (2.22)
Escape EP (1998)
12. Silent Tears - (7.44)
13. Epacse - (1.22)
14. Broken - (6.21)
15. Mirror of Serenity - (6.00)

CD 2
Drift of Empathy (1996)
1. Inner Sense - (5.24)
2. Mental Affection - (7.13)
3. Slough of Despond - (6.16)
4. Solitude - (5.30)
5. Last Words - (4.39)
6. The Dreamer's Path - (5.48)
7. Disguised Ignorance - (5.59)
8. Where The Moon Meets The Sea - (5.26)
9. Scars - (3.30)
Lovelorn - demo (1995)
10. Slough of Despond - (6.18)
11. Disguised Ignorance - (6.09)
12. Lovelorn - (4.11)
13. Shadows - (5.04)
14. The Dreamer's Path - (5.10)

Added: January 19th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Callenish Circle Online
Hits: 2930
Language: english

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