CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE — As The Roots Undo (review)

CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE — As The Roots Undo album cover Album · 2003 · Hardcore Punk Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
As the Roots Undo is a screamo/post-hardcore album with some elements of mathcore, as there are some odd time signatures with polyrhythms and what have you.

To quote the album's booklet: "In a nutshell the concept behind the songs was to document the different points on a path to self-realization." Now, this is by no means the most original topic to make an album about, but as the song Kill the Switch says: "I know its all been done before, I want to do it again." And I'm very glad they did because the lyrics on this album are really phenomenal. The lyrics range from being very emotional to being outstandingly vivid. Just to throw out another quote out there, here's one of my favorite lyrics from the album:

"My dad's favorite novel on top of the pile, in the self concious first light shake the memory of his smile, igniting these volumes, igniting these volumes I'm warmed by the flames. Alter the deafening earthen tones... In the nervous light, I dance in the nervous light and I'm warmed by the flames. Dance to the sound of his weight bearing back fucking breaking."

I guess you can't really relate to the emotional part until you hear it and how it's delivered, but I'm sure by reading it you can even so how the lyrics are even slightly poetic. Now, how the vocals are delivered is where this album may be a bit challenging to get into. The screamo vocals aren't for everyone, but I think if you can learn to appreciate them you'll be rewarded with great lyrics and fantastic delivery.

But as this album also has some instruments in it, let's talk about those now. There's the conventional bass, guitar, drum set, but every so often there is another instrument thrown in for added texture. The intro song is actually nothing but flute, playing the main melody of the song, which does come back every-so-often, and most notably in the song "Interview at the Ruins", where they chant the lyrics "A murmur from the ruins echoes softly as the roots undo, and the branch becomes..." using the notes from the into track. And there are also some piano and random percussion thrown in as well. Fun stuff.

The drumming is very good. I'd say it sounds a bit like the drumming in Jane Doe, being very chaotic and sporadic as most mathcore drumming sounds. Basically, if you ever heard a mathcore album in your life, this is that drumming, but definitely above the average drumming, but still not quite "amazing" standards. It gets the job done, adds a good spine to the band, and keeps the songs driving that want to be driven, so it does everything a drummer is supposed to do and does it well.

The guitar/bass are also very well done, even better than the drums if I do say so. The riffs they make up often stand out in a very good way. The riffs are very diverse, not just focusing on one style too long. The quantity and quality you get with their riffs is great and definitely a reason to go back to the album.

Some criticisms of the album is that sometimes it feels to over-the-top, not because it's so extreme, but just how they express themselves it may seem kind of silly. After all, it's a bunch of youngsters letting out their angst with the tool of music. But I argue if one can handle this crazy, maybe even perhaps immature, album, you'll be glad you gave the effort.
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