Circle of Crows are a hard-rocking trio from Cornwall who have developed a strong following in the South West and are now looking to expand their reach. They are Kyle Gormley on vocals and guitar, Josh Smith on bass and Steve Sudlow on drums. Their debut six track EP Everything Comes After Zero is released on 17th August. The opening track, How to Wait for Nothing is out now. Their promotional blurb talks about engaging hooks and muscular riffs and cites influences like Audioslave, Metallica and Biffy Clyro. The band themselves, in an interview posted on their Facebook page, list other bands like Soundgarden, Bruce Springsteen (yes!), Muse, Incubus, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Rage Against the Machine as favourites. So shove all that lot into the mix, with maybe some Royal Blood as seasoning and you might start to get an impression about what comes out the other end.
And yeah, what comes out is really good! Circle of Crows are not a straightforward metal band. They know how to lay down a punching riff, but all the songs don’t stand still. There is no heads-down thrash here: you might get a bit of riffing designed for the mosh pit, but it will quickly turn into a bit of guitar noodling or an anthemic chorus. There is a lot going on! It’s a pretty ambitious debut, and very well-produced. No murky vocals or muffled basslines here. The sound is sharp and true. So, let’s go through the songs. They all merit a mention.
How to Wait for Nothing is a strong opener. I’m not surprised it’s the single. The opening riff immediately reminded me of Royal Blood, but that didn’t last long as it went into a reflective bit and then went all Metallica. And then got into an almost jazz-rocky vein for a moment, before heading back to Metallica-land. It jumps around time signatures, but stays coherent. I’m listening to it for the fourth time now and I’m thinking, this is awesome!
Broken Children is more straight-up rock, until it gets into a fat bass and the soloing. Some very good musicianship. Lyrics maybe a bit obvious. A bit more allusiveness that still gets the message across wouldn’t do any harm. A mention for Kyle Gormley’s singing though: he’s very expressive, he can go up and down the range and has a nice sense of melody. Impressive.
Into the Sun is my early favourite: it’s the power ballad here. The opening guitar could be Snow Patrol, but it soon turns into a very American-sounding melodic rock anthem. Mobiles out for this one. Roaring guitars and some of those minor keys to tug at the emotions. This must surely end up being a crowd favourite.
Everything Comes After Zero is a frantic piece in which Kyle’s singing wrestles the jerky riff. There’s a lot of Metallica in this one, but with more melody. Nightmare Cinema has the most straightforward riff on the EP (and I like it for that) and that brings back the Royal Blood comparison. Circle of Crows have a bit more depth though, having a bassist…everyone should have a bassist really, that’s what people dance to. Of course the song doesn’t stick to one formula: you get a high-speed, high-pitch solo too. A little bit of Van Halen maybe.
Then then an epic to finish in Open Doors. I love the first line: “I don’t like open doors”. That opens any manner of psychological possibilities, and I think this track explores quite a lot of them. Kyle might not like open doors, but he wants someone to come into his world. There is some great guitar on this song: some subtle playing and a big crescendo too. This one would do alright in the stadium.
So, in conclusion, I really enjoyed listening to Everything Comes After Zero. As I said at the beginning, there is a lot going on, and that makes the music interesting without making it messy. The combination of some powerful riffs, a very solid bass and drum foundation and Kyle’s strong voice makes me think they would be terrific live. Get up to London, lads!