João Coelho – Vocals,
Henrique Reis – Guitar,
Sérgio Almeida – Bass,
João Seixas – Drums.
1. Rotten & Pleased
2. Devil’s Shoes
4. Self-Inflicted Solipsism
Like a number of subgenres within rock, hardcore has got its checklist of goals to achieve. It’ll need to bludgeon the listener’s cochlea and… That’s about it. It’s a simple list, often reflected by a basic and brash approach to songwriting, but them’s the rules. In fact, oftentimes bands see that list as the be-all and end-all for their approach, so one comes to expect a certain case of déjà vu when considering hardcore.
What you don’t really expect is for there to be little nuggets of gold, little additions to the list littered about DON’T DISTURB MY CIRCLES’ EP “Lower Canopy”. Whether that’s the pleasant melodic break in “Rotten & Pleased”, the freneticism of “Branches”, or the groove-and-melody one-two that signals “Self-Inflicted Solipsism”, it captures the attention far better than a bog-standard blast of hardcore would. See, this is what separates the men from the boys in the genre: that realisation that it’s not all Neanderthalic punk riffs on steroids. It’s something that is, actually, pretty endemic within the wider rock genre and, sadly, is rarely addressed.
What bands don’t seem to realise is that the term “heaviness” will need some form of context. Your intro to a song or record will serve that purpose, but subsequent items on a longer release will have an effect, too. More unrelenting heaviness, amusingly, has the opposite effect – it becomes something of a nothingness. It’s like eating a huge pizza with nothing else; no drink and no garlic pizza sticks with a portion of wedges for dipping, just unending cheese. That first bite and a few of its nibbly cousins will be damn tasty, but it’ll lose its verve somewhat when you’re four slices-deep with eight to go. You’ll plough on, but wonder if there’s more out there for you?
Thankfully for us, master pizza chefs DON’T DISTURB MY CIRCLES bring a solid buffet of food along for the ride. The riffs alternate between spasmodic feats of dissonance, and passages with ear-bothering catchiness, whilst the rhythm section provides enough groove to get you shakin’ off all that food you’ve just eaten. Like a favourite order, it’s a little familiar in places, but it provides enough extras to remain palatable. Even the vocals give a little extra flavour – there’s even cleans that liven up proceedings, so hooray for variety!
“Lower Canopy” doesn’t quite stretch to a three-star Michelin afternoon of haute cuisine, but there’s times when that’s all a bit poncy (and expensive). Just give us a decent morsel to sink our teeth into, with a few extras thrown in (nothing too crazy, lest they clash and ruin the affair), and we’re golden. For most bands out there, that’s a regrettably tall order, but not for DON’T DISTURB MY CIRCLES. It’s a decent slice of hardcore, and deftly avoids falling into the trap of being a one-dimensional affront to the ears which, in this genre, can be a rather decadent (should really stop writing these reviews right before lunch…)