Another apparent casualty of early 2000's screamo scene, Circle Takes the Square evaporated into a seven-year hiatus after their acclaimed debut, As the Roots Undo (2004). Emerging from their extended vacay, these grindcore veterans serve up the satiating first course of a planned November full-length. I'll confess: The first couple turns of the four-song EP was a lackluster experience. After a third spin, though, the band's innovative fusion of metal and philosophical poetry rekindled an old flame. The tracks fold, novelesque, one into the next, revealing a journey of self-discovery: "Entangled crossroads/only we could see/beyond the fear/our new creation will be gleaned," they sing on "Way of Ever-Branching Paths." Opener "Enter By The Narrow Gates" is a stealth introduction to new listeners, as well as a welcome back to those they abandoned. The album is heaving with signature CTTS chants any devotee will appreciate. Guitarist Drew Speziale and bassist Kathleen Stubelek's guttural screams balance their matchless harmonies, particularly in "Spirit Narrative." It's not a far leap from the old frenzied pandemonium of punk rock urgency, yet these new songs deliver a cultivated product from a band with the audacity to grow up.
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