by Thomas Bedward October 21, 2021
One of the modern progressive metal scene’s newest and most intriguing musical talents, Circles of Namibia has carved out their own path in recent years, building on over a decade of experience to create a fully-fledged musical experience. Promising and wonderfully innovative, the project is the musical moniker of talented solo artist Adam Driskell, an American artist now living and making music in Seoul, South Korea.
Adam’s debut release as the celebrated Circles of Namibia, ‘Where It All Began’ arrives as a unique journey of growth and discovery, one that leans on more traditional progressive metal sounds, while also incorporating a unique and free-flowing energy that stands firmly on its own. Recently, publications like Metal Head Community have championed singles like ‘Mountain’, shining a light on the “intelligently written composition” and “layered partitions of guitars, keys, bass, and drums”, but now that the full album is here, there is so much more to unpack.
An eleven-song epic inspired by some of progressive metal’s biggest names like Dream Theater, Opeth, and Plini, ‘Where It All Began’ is filled with intricate sounds that expand and flow with wild eclectic energy, layering sounds, styles, and deft personal touches to create an enduring and expansive aura experience that will surely stand strong for years to come.
Opening with the lead single, Circle of Namibia’s debut album works hard to break the mould, creeping into focus with an atmospheric sound that is punctured by isolated tones. It’s an unassuming opening, but it quickly transforms into an explosive medley of heavy riffs and thunderous percussion, layering each instrumental piece to create a wild, careening sound that will sweep you away in seconds. When speaking about the track, Adam explained that it was a reflection of “the experiences and emotions one might have from the beginning of the climb/hike to the summit of the Mountain,” noting that its dark tones and lack of traditional choruses help illustrate the climb, and in truth, it works to perfection. With a melody and sound that rises and falls as the journey progresses, it’s a song that encapsulates the album’s feel and energy.
As the album continues, themes of reflection, transformation, and overcoming struggles continue to surface, and the music works well to forge a connection between artist and listener, which is always paramount in instrumental work. Songs like ‘Circles’, ‘After Light’, and the heartfelt ‘One Last Time’ showcases this perfectly, offering waves of emotive instrumentation that are anchored by Adam’s ever-evolving guitarwork. Highlights abound in the more sonic, serene tracks like ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Spider’s Web’, where Adam does a brilliant job of blending the flickering metal sounds with a more organic, expressive build, but there are also plenty of raw, powerful moments that you can easily lose yourself in, like in the crushing blows of ‘Ocean’ or the final, sonic embrace of ‘Melody’.
In our recent interview with Adam, he spoke about the personal nature of the album, explaining that he had returned to his roots when writing the album, with a focus on “telling stories or complex emotions through instrumental music,” and on ‘Where It All Began’, he does it beautifully.
An impressive and expansive release that announces the project in fine form, ‘Where It All Began’ proves the talents of Adam Driskell and Circles of Namibia time and time again, leaving little doubt that the project has what it takes to not only conquer but to redefine the genre.
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