Back in 2019, a shadowy figure named Våndarr released a self-titled three-track demo under the project name Cirkeln. After that demo, Cirkeln released an EP and two full-length records nodding to Bathory’s genre-spawning influences. In barely four years since, Våndarr has slashed his mark on the crowded battlefield of solo black metal. Like an arcane premonition, today we summon Cirkeln’s third LP The Primitive Covenant a few days before its November 3rd release from True Cult Records.
While Cirkeln’s other albums nodded most prominently to Quorthon’s epic black metal, there’s a more acidic and abrasive approach here. The song lengths still regularly venture past five minutes, apart from a cover by Swedish rock provocateurs The Leather Nun. But even when a track crosses the seven minute mark (“Garden of Thrones” and “The Witch Bell”), there’s unbridled urgency. But that doesn’t mean this is just wall-to-wall ballast and blast beats. In “Defiled and Satanized,” Våndarr follows clean croons with one of the album’s most punishing sections. A track later, there’s an atmospheric sanctuary between raging waves of raw distortion. Album closer “The Death of Thy Father” opens with an anthemic dash of trad metal leads then stomps its way to a triumphant conclusion. The record is an impressively diverse offering, deliberate with its ideas but diabolical in its delivery.
“What I am the most proud about when it comes to this third record is that I think it cements Cirkeln as a band that doesn’t make the same album twice,” Våndarr shares. “For all their flaws, I think that all my releases do something different than the last. To me, The Primitive Covenant is the farthest I’ve ever strayed from what listeners were expecting. Sure, it’s still black metal at its core. But I hope it comes across that I have no interest in re-treading A Song To Sorrow. My hope is that the listeners can look at the two records as two different works with very different goals and appreciate them for what they’re trying to do. I know I can.”
Enter the garden of thorns and press play on Cirkeln’s vicious new record below.