"The Art of Agony" (Neoblast; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter


It's been a long time since I heard a death metal album that made an immediate impression. Most death metal albums take a long time to grow on me. Not Vicious Circle's “The Art Of Agony.” I was taken by surprise, especially since I'd never heard of Vicious Circle prior to this occasion. Vicious Circle have actually been around for awhile and have produced a number of independent releases over the course of well over a decade. With “The Art Of Agony” the metal listening public can hear a band in the death metal genre that's worth hearing due to the fact that it's on a reasonable label (Note: The band's label Neoblast actually folded shortly after this release).

It's obvious from a casual listen of “The Art Of Agony” that Vicious Circle aren't a ground-breaking band by any means. However, the band employs various technical elements and creative songwriting to make their songs stand out from the morass that passes for death metal these days. The songs are crisp – varied and aggressive and very few break the four-minute barrier. As I understand it, many of the songs on “The Art Of Agony” have been around awhile either sitting in the band's collective conscious or have appeared on prior-independent releases. Either way the album sounds cohesive.

The way I'm hearing it, it's like Cannibal Corpse took lessons from Death and early Sepultura for a pretty lethal mix. I'm not quite ready to put Vicious Circle up on a pedestal with the death metal giants that I just named, but it does make for an intoxicating listen.

“The Art Of Agony” was produced by Dan Korneff and Vicious Circle.

Vicious Circle: Darrell Rapp on vocals, Vinny DiBianca on guitars, Mel Leach on bass, and Dave Surran on drums.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 19 Jul 2020 14:27:18 -0400 .