Sound — 5
"Decompositions: Volume Number One" is a very dense record. It is a super cathartic release, and not really a record you put on just for fun. It is a record that one has to actively listen to in order to fully appreciate. As they are wont to do, Circle Takes The Square are all over the map with influences. There is metal, screamo, powerviolence, and even a little indie folk influences throughout. This much going on at once would be f--king disastrous in the hands of a lesser band. People generally use the term "atmospheric" to describe mellow, ambient things. This is an atmospheric record, but that atmosphere is more apocalyptic than calming.
Lyrics — 7
Nine songs blast through in about 56 minutes. There are some sparse moments. Album opener, "Enter By The Narrow Gates", starts with about a minute of chanting. The remainder of it's almost seven minute run time is spent building to the release that is the second cut, "Spirit Narrative". And, when it explodes, it f--king makes it count. It is a slow burn, but it keeps your attention. Once your work yourself into the record, it is business as usual. Business as usual for this band is not such a simple business. The thing that sold me on Circle Takes The Square was the chaotic nature of their records. It would go from calm to full on chaos multiple times within a song. It can make things a little disjointed at time, but it keeps you involved. That is the only problem I have with this record. Everything seems more calculated. Nothing on this record feels very spontaneous. All the slow parts are where you expect them to be. It ebbs and flows in a way that would be comfortable in any other record, but seems out of place on a full length from this band. This isn't a knock on the band, as this record is still amazingly engrossing. The problem is that they are so honed and aware of what they are doing that nothing stands out above all else. The record starts really strong. With the exception of album closer, "North Star, Inverted", the bottom half of the record is a little less strong. However, that f--king closer is one of the best things this band has done. Pushing 11 minutes, "North Star, Inverted" is beautiful. It's probably the one song off of this album that I memorized the lyrics to. It starts with a building drum, into a post-hardcore guitar part. Everything is generally what you expect, and then it throws a curve ball. Two minute and 15 seconds in, you get a very calm acoustic guitar lead. It is basically a perfect song, and I have to say that the lines: "The future can't sleep, It doesn't need to, It dreams standing up like the statues In the gardens we'll pass through- Past the guardians at the gatepost, The Light: how it gives and it takes." They are just beautiful in every single way. I didn't take the time to go through each lyric from each song with you because your overall impression of the songs will obviously be different from mine - but to me, all of their lyrics on this album are perfect.
Overall Impression — 7
To wrap this overly long review up, this record is great. I can see why it took them 8 years to come out with a new album. They simply waited for the right ideas to come along and all blend smoothly together. While it is lacking some of the exuberance of "As The Roots Undo", it still f--king kills it. I didn't even need to write this review, as anyone who is a believer in this band has already checked it out anyway. If you haven't heard of this band or album before, I recommend taking a listen to "North Star, Inverted". You won't be disappointed.