The Stockholm, Sweden-based one-man black metal band Cirkeln began in 2019 with a three-song self-titled demo that was like looking through a keyhole into a fantastical universe. With 2020’s Stormlander EP, Cirkeln’s sole player Våndarr more than proved that he could combine the likes of Bathory, Isengard and early Running Wild for immense and wonderful results, but even then, amidst the excitement of such a fresh sound, one could sense something even more magnificent from the band lurked on the horizon. Then, later that year, Kingdoms that No One Remembers, Cirkeln’s debut full-length, upped the ante on this sound, while sprinkling a little bit of ‘70s prog rock magic a la Uriah Heep. Still, it felt like something even greater yet lay ahead . . .
Now, two years later, the Stockholm stormlander has returned with A Song to Sorrow, his most ambitious and most fully realized work thus far. Sounding neither single-handed nor single-minded, Cirkeln’s sophomore album spans a vast and epic breadth despite its comparatively short playing time at only 44 minutes. For an album both atmospheric and cinematic it also has no untrimmed fat to speak of. This is an album truly worthy of your attention.
A Song to Sorrow
“A Song to Sorrow is an ode to the war that each human must wage against their own psyche,” writes Våndarr. “The album is about my intimate and personal struggle to crawl back out from the abyss of my own personal hell. Although clad in the fashion of the fantastical, the songs are raw reflections of what I was going through at the time.
“On a song-writing level, this album was about me doing a lot of exploring to hone in on the voice of Cirkeln. Although I had two releases under my belt already, I think I was still chasing my influences more than perhaps trying to find my own sound. Although this is an ongoing process for any musician, as I listen back to what the album ended up being I can hear the stakes being planted in the ground for what will become Cirkeln going forward. And as I’m beginning to plot out what comes next, I think that is an exciting prospect for me and listeners alike.”