Album Review: Encircle - 'Into the Dreamstate'

13 January 2013 | 10:19 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

An album for guitarists.

The niche genre of instrumental progressive metal has seen a monumental expansion in musical diversity in recent years, due largely to the proliferation of bedroom producers like Anthony DiGiacomo, aka Encircle.

Nurtured in the anonymous hum of internet forums, a community of shredder/producers has spawned, with releases from artists like Cloudkicker, Tre Watson and Piotrek Gruszka showing how far this music has come since the neoclassical shred halcyon of the 80s.

Encircle presents a strong riff-based style, and with his latest LP 'Into the Dreamstate', he explores layering and ambience while maintaining a balls-to-the-wall approach to songwriting.

This is probably the most contentious point about his music. Each song is relentless, which will undoubtedly appeal to a certain breed of guitarist, but many listeners will tire easily. There are simply too many ideas in too short a space of time.

When taken as a standalone entity, a track like 'When the Colors Bleed Away' holds together well, but the endless barrage of notes on 'Instances' and 'As the Horror Unfolds' does little to enforce a sense of structure on the album.

This is a shame, as the style is very appealing: a combination of progressive melodies and textures contrasted with heavy, technical passages.

The production is admirable, though not perfect. Guitars are somewhat raw around the edges, but what really lets this album down is the transparency of programmed drums. A common choice in this style, but once you know they're there, it's hard to forget.

However, it's the individual musical ideas that make 'Into the Dreamstate' worth a listen. Occasional bursts of black metal adrenaline punctuate a modern post-Periphery sound. Definitely an album that guitarists will enjoy, but the lack of vocals and abundance of similar sounding riffs may turn some people away.

'Into the Dreamstate' is a noble attempt at a conceptual instrumental album, with impressive performances and production. What sours it is the lack of consideration for dynamics, and an undeveloped sense of the bigger picture, a vital element in such a niche genre.

1. Instances

2. When the Colors Fade Away

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3. Into the Dreamstate

4. You Were the Tempest

5. As the Horror Unfolds

6. An Awful Image of Calm Power

7. Confessor

8. An Ending Without a Story

9. Retribution

10. The Serpent and the Static Between Thoughts

11. The Curse of Consciousness

12. If the Day Should Come