Formed in 1991 in Pori, a town on the western coast of Finland, Circle (along with its many satellites, side-projects, colleagues, neighbors and even parents) has long been one of the most prolific and internationally visible bands in the Finnish underground. After a flurry of releases on 7″ singles and a series of anarchic live shows, Circle released its first full-length album, Meronia, on the legendary Oulu-based label Bad Vugum in 1994. This album set the template for the immediate future. The droning and hypnotic influence of newer acts like Loop, Jesus & mary Chain or Spacemen3, as well as the classic folk and hard rock of the 1970s, was clear Circle augmented its drone with more austere essences boiled down from hours and hours of exposure to 70s and 80s hard rock.
This approach laid the template for several years to come, during which Circle spread around the world, down in the undergrowth. They released records through many different labels all in Europe and North America.
By 1997, only ringleader Lehtisalo remained and the band was preparing for a departure from its original esthetic framework. Krautrock as an influence came to the fore for a couple of years, inspiring albums like Andexelt and Taantumus, but by the turn of the century change was in the air.
By Sunrise in 2002, the change was complete. NWOFHM had arrived. This approach has held for the time being, not withstanding a couple of daytrips into psychedelic folk and icy ambient, but even these records that are superficially so different from the current mainstream state of Circle can be seen as elaborations of ideas present from that very first double album.
Since a strong belief in the divine nature of making mistakes informs the project, there have been many stylistic detours, digressions and fecund tributaries to follow during this musical odyssey, but the basic pulse and impulse have always remained.
After this long and happy search for musical meaning spanning over 15 years, Circle has managed to make grownup metal in the most inclusive and positive sense of the word by taking the stodgy riffage of 1980s and shooting through a prism of various psychedelic and experimental influences. The temptation to pronounce the journey over and proclaim this space in time an apex is strong and it’s been a long time coming, but odds are this is just another episode.
Tune in next time.
– Arttu Tolonen