Blast Rites #4: Days Of Desolation – Circles Review

Plagues. Wars. Impending climate disaster. Yet another Kid Rock album… Sometimes these days do seem desolate indeed…

Thankfully, we’ve always got grindcore to get us through.

Release date: February 12, 2022. Label: Loner Cult / Up The Punx / Romantic Songs / Halenoise
Belgian three-piece Days Of Desolation returns with their second full-length, almost a full ten years after the first and just a few months after a split with Dutch grind-punkers Disuse. This particular grind is of the crusty variety, but far from purely d-beat-driven punk, heavy on riffs and dashed with sweet Swedish-leaning Martyrdöd-y melodies and chiming almost-post-metal passages. It’s a marked improvement in almost every way over that decade-old previous effort, and an increasingly less drastic but still noticeable improvement over each subsequent split in the interim, even over that most recent one, which is all just a convoluted and verbose way of saying what this says in a much simpler manner: “Circles is Days Of Desolation’s best release thusfar, no question.” The songs are better, the riffs stronger, the claws dig deeper; the production is stouter, appropriately filthy without sounding either too raw or too slick.

From the opening pummel of “Mass Psychosis” **, Days Of Desolation lays their cards on the table: blastbeats, d-beats, drummer Owen’s fierce snarling growl, the melodic interplay between Jasper and Bart’s guitars, one high and one low, a downshifted breakdown with an eerie guitar melody atop it… The blistering and crushing “Bone Into Brine” is an early album highlight, all catchy-as-hell riffing and relentless energy, with those guitars riding a cyclical thrash riff into the coda, building atop one another until the end. The rollicking “Autumn” devolves into a nice mid-album breakpoint, clean chords beneath a lengthy sample from the TED Talk of Dutch historian Rutger Bregman, and that brief respite is wisely followed by Circles’ shortest and most raging track, “Your Prerogative,” another grinder filled to bursting with hooky riffs to compliment its ferocity.

As great as the first two-thirds of Circles is – and it is great, almost entirely – some of its most interesting moments come in the final two tracks, taking up nearly a full ten minutes of the album’s 33 minutes between them. It’s here the band’s expansive ideas take further flight, in the relatively restrained hardcore wallop of “Neuron Nebula” and the blistering, almost blackened tinges of “Hypersleep,” a barn-burner for its first half that resolves into a chunky, crusty, nearly epically melodic coda that builds towards a resolution that never comes. It all just stops dead, like life itself too often does. **

In these days so often desolate, Days Of Desolation brings you a wonderful and wonderfully cathartic summation of all the rage and frustration and fear and ugliness that seems to swirl around us. It’s a perfectly put-together riff- and blast-fest, and one of 2022’s early grindcore highlights, handily. Grind and smash, let the last note ring ‘til it’s choked dead, press play again and repeat, and the Circles goes ‘round again…

* At least, “Mass Psychosis” is the opener on my digital version – somewhat curiously, Loner Cult’s Bandcamp and the band’s Bandcamp disagree on the order of the first two tracks. I’m siding with the band.

** Like, whoa, dude. That’s deep. And tragic.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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