So much has been written on The Wanderlust about the Perth (Australia) metal scene in recent times. Admittedly Your Grouchy Friend has been the deliverer of some of that content and is a denizen of the place, but for context he has ferociously claimed the privilege of writing about the scene, beating away other would-be writers (reluctantly sharing with The Great Mack), and has been all but lynched in the writing room for failing to score some albums a full five out of five (true story). The Perth scene is at a ridiculous level right now and just keeps on growing, with the stylistic nuances of the participants becoming more and more varied. Enter Kimura and their debut full length album “Circle The Prey” – a coming of age release for a band who have been crushing skulls around Perth for some five plus years.
Three EPs prior to this point have seen the band develop themselves stylistically and bring in “new” vocalist Joshua Kelly, readying themselves to arrive in full force. Although we as listeners and fans love to believe bands just leap out of the back streets of a far away town fully formed and developed, the honest truth is that great music and great acts are forged in the heat of live performance and rehearsal spaces, the hits and misses of the interpersonal relationships involved, and through the trials and tribulations of life itself. Many fall wounded never to rise, some stand bloodied and ready, and are finally heard above the din.
“Circle The Prey” blazes out of the blocks with savage intensity: “Cliff Step” is a fine exposition for the tenor of what is to follow. This is a modern, brutal metal band hitting their stride from the get go. A wide variety of Metal influences are at play here: Death, Melodic, Core, Groove… all held together by the brutal, aggressive delivery of Joshua Kelly. The trick of modernity and evolution in metal is a difficult one that is oft gate-kept into oblivion, but there is an honesty to what is being delivered here: An honesty that finds its best expression through seething rage. The closing riff of “Cliff Step” is an addictive, driving slab of intensity – Your Grouchy Friend’s first listen was at pumping volume in a car during a frustrating morning commute. This thing hits HARD – afford it the massive benefit of air being moved – get out from under your headphones and belt this sucker out loud.
The three singles released thus far – “Sharpen The Bones,” Hell Is Coming,” and “Hangman” – have all hit the mark and left that mark rent assunder, with the latter a truly outstanding track. Kelly’s excursions into spoken territory on “Hangman” call to mind Winston McCall of Parkway Drive. It has often been said that a quality speaking voice will yield a quality singing voice (although I am not sure the original quote had gutturals in mind) and venturing into this territory exposes a vocalist utterly. Songs will quickly come acropper if the voice isn’t up to snuff, and the tone and delivery here works. The aforementioned honesty of this release is promulgated by Kelly’s willingness to bare his soul on “Hangman.”
Beautifully melodic instrumentals “Damnare Pt. 1 – Judgement” and “Damnare Pt. 2 Sentenced” provide a wonderful interlude and outro respectively, exhibiting the musical proficiency of the band with taste, poise, and evoking an unmistakeable feeling that the compositions absolutely belong. Instrumentals can feel forced or misplaced but that is most certainly not the case here. Guitarist Ian McAllister in particular is up front creatively and technically and does not disappoint, working lyrical melodic work over the rock solid foundation of Baker (Bass) and Steinberger (Drums) to elucidate a sense of narrative movement in the pieces.
“Serpents Worms” shows the eclectic nature of this band better than perhaps any other track on the album. Blended Blackened and deep vocal stylings, melodic, groove and core riffing and a cracking chugging chordal chorus come together like Bill Steer chatting with his Trve Norwegian buddies over a few pints at a metalcore show. Such a description does scant justice to the sum of the parts on offer, but should be instructive as to the places from which the band members may have come, and more importantly to where they are going. The immediate follow up, the brutal “Sciolist” is another work of sheer intensity and while you could say it keeps the energy high, the fact is aside from the grace and release of the two instrumentals the energy never drops.
Top tracks are aplenty on this one, but “Digital Mercy” and “Vultures” take the chocolates. The former’s staccatto intro is instantly infectious and the melodic aspect of the rhythm guitar is in places reminiscent of the heavier work of Miss May I (minus their irksome processed clean vocal). The latter is a straight-ahead, hardcore infused delight, that builds and builds like an unstoppable, angry freight train on a downhill descent. There is an element of groove present that feels great to submit to. Is it a little too on the nose? Perhaps, but in the words of Dr Julius Hibbert, “Get with the times Moe, if it feels good, do it.”
This is an album that you absolutely must give a solid thrashing at high volume. It is physical, visceral, honest and downright fucking heavy. Metal at its most base is supposed to trigger an animalistic response in sympathy to its heaviness. Kimura possess the unfiltered and raw ability to hit the nerve that makes you want to let yourself go. Intensity of delivery with great production including some very well executed vocal layering (perhaps indicative of Lamb of God as an influence), and a leave-it-all-on-the-park mentality mean you will not be left wondering where these cats are coming from.
“Circle The Prey” is one of my favourite albums of the year.
See you in the fucking pit.
Rating 5 out of 5