On the surface, Callenish Circle seems to be just another routine melodic death metal band playing the style defined by the likes of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates in the mid-nineties, but 'Graceful... Yet Forbidding' has a lot to offer for fans of the genre who, quite justly, expect to have heard it all.
There's nothing groundbreaking here, but the guitar performance of Ronny Tyssen and Jos Evers is fairly exceptional, without going overboard and indulgent. Led by deep, heavy riffs that know when to evolve and when to repeat the same great melodic lines, these songs have a more resonant and even slightly more depressive quality than most melodic death metal, which tends to concern itself with an expression of aggression. Like the work of Opeth and October Tide, this is more carefully considered and emotive music, even if the harsh vocals and clichéd 1980s guitar solos may take a little getting used to.
Patrick Savelkoul's vocals are relatively standard and don't do anything to impress here, growling along without the need for oppressive rasps or clean singing that would impede the effect, while Gavin Harte's drums keep everything grounded in death metal, even during the slower songs. Even Roland Schuschke's bass is an important ingredient, fleshed out by the high production values and working excellently against the melodic guitars. Finally, guest keyboardist Bram Kortooms (if that's his real name, I'm pretty impressed and wish it was mine) makes his presence felt in the finale 'Alone...' without getting in the way elsewhere.
1. No Reason
3. Inner Battle
6. Oppressed Natives
7. Silent Tears
8. Passionate Dance
9. Caught By Deceit
10. Shadows of the Past
1. No reason / 2. Forgotten / 3. Inner Battle / 4. Beyond... / 5. Broken / 6. Oppressed Natives / 7. Silent Tears / 8. Passionate Dance / 9. Caught By Deceit 10. Shadows Of The Past / 11. Alone... / 12. Silent Tears / 13. Escape / 14. Broken / 15. Mirror Of Serenity