How many bands from Finland can you think of apart from Hanoi Rocks and The Leningrad Cowboys? Sure there are a million nordic metal bands out there with names like Children Of Bodom, Nightwish and Apocalyptica but one in particular has burnt its own path as the self-proclaimed leaders of NWOFHM (New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal) – Circle.
Since releasing their first album Meronia in 93, the band has gone through numerous line-up changes and mutated and splintered into endless side-projects like the stoner metal of Pharaoh Overlord, the metal meets 80’s New York noise of Lusiferiinin Armosta and the classic 70s sound of Steel Mammoth.
Listen to a random selection of Circle’s albums and you’ll think you’ve stumbled across multiple bands. Stick with them though and the immediate impression that they are a bunch of ‘crazy Fins’ will either disappear or will grow stronger and more addictive. Circle are masters of krautrock, drone, ambient, folk and all forms of metal. The one thing holding it together is a full-on disregard for convention and predictability and an obsessive lust for drone and repetition. They dig into a riff and then recycle it over and over till it burns a hole in your brain. The pure antidote to the boredom inducing 3 minute indie pop songs that are saturating everything at the moment.
Jussi Lehtisalo is the one constant through the band’s career, a man not afraid to proudly don Rob Halford leather and studs while playing music akin to The Doors, Can and Sabbath stuck in a perpetually revolving door. Still informed by the hypnotic undercurrents of krautrock these Fins treat the music with both the respect it deserves and the humour that it needs.
Circle’s latest and 33rd album is Soundcheck, a live/soundcheck recording from the Space Force 1 Festival in 2009, available via Full Contact/Ektro Records.