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Lost in the void of an evolving scene. - 89%

hells_unicorn, May 18th, 2009

For every great album that was put out in the early 90s death metal scene and got wide recognition, there were likely at least 4 or 5 really solid albums that got very little recognition at all due to it being such an underground phenomenon that exploded with almost equal fervor as the thrash metal scene did about 8 years prior. Vicious Circle’s very different and lesser known full length debut “Cryptic Void”, which shows a band looking back a couple of years to a different era, before death metal became something more defined by what piled the most brutality into 30 to 40 minutes of album space. Parallels in both vocal presentation and song construction can be found to late 80s Morbid Angel, pre “Butchered At Birth” Cannibal Corpse and early Suffocation, as well as a host of late 80s Bay Area thrash bands if you look at the riff work.

The end result of this mix is something not terribly dissimilar from Morbid Saint actually, although with a slightly more aggressive vocal interpretation that leaves the toneless shouts and enters the guttural realm, particularly that of David Vincent’s unique take on the style. Thrash happy, mostly tonal but highly chromatic bruisers like “Fist Of God”, “Experimental Flesh” and “Biomorphic Horrors” make a much more tasteful use of tremolo riffs and blast beats than what is commonly observed today, and allow each section a little time to develop before jumping to the next idea or tempo.

Occasionally the band jumps back to the proto-death metal days of the mid 80s, coming up with something fairly similar to Possessed. This is particularly the case on the atmospheric “Dying Time”, which has less of a horrific character and more of a dark and haunting one. Occasional keyboard and acoustic guitar usage gives the song a very theatrical element, while the faster sections have this sort of “Seven Churches” meets “Altars Of Madness” character to them, switching up between crunchy thrash goodness and a blurrier blend of chromatic tremolo picked riffs.

Probably the biggest flaw that this album has is that it was released in 1993, when the character of sound that it falls into was probably more appropriate to 1991. But regardless to whether this was a little after its time, it is a great album that probably didn’t enjoy a very wide circulation, as the copy I obtained was in a discount bin at my local farmer’s market with the autographs of the band on the inside, indicating that it was probably originally bought at a live performance in a small venue somewhere on the east coast. Hopefully this will get discovered by either a small or moderate sized label and be re-released because this is pretty hard to come by and likely didn’t reach the audience that it should have.