Circle: Terminal (4 stars)

Circle: Terminal

Finnish collective return with pleasingly familiar rock tropes

For Circle fans, every new release is an adventure. Since their 1993 debut, this Finnish collective have released more than 30 albums, all entirely unique but also unmistakably Circle. There's a combination of gleeful mischief and lethally intense focus that characterises everything they do, from metal semi-pastiche to amniotic jazz abstraction to muscular, psychedelic Krautrock. There was that one time when Circle weren't Circle (the year they leased their name to a death metal band) while the 'real' Circle operated under the name Falcon. As you do.

Terminal finds them returning with heads full of rock. Opener 'Rakkautta Al Dente' stitches together a succession of lost Zeppelin riffs and impassioned wails, but its cock-rock swagger is subverted as it melts into a gloopy disorienting space-rock puddle. The title track brings plenty of Stooges-style bite'n'strut, but also a gleeful-yet-forlorn melodic refrain that adds a little soul to the punky posturing. 'Saxo' finds Mika Ratto barking like a canine drill sergeant over a bruising 6/8 pulse that segues seamlessly into heavy ritual post-punk and overblown operatic 80s art-pop.

Taking fragments of bombastic old-school heavy metal and reassembling them in the dark, 'Imperiumi' is a slightly peculiar headbanger's delight. And while reminding people of lumpen boors Kasabian is rarely a source of happiness, closer 'Sick Child', with its plodding blokey-shoegaze groove and wordless snide vocal, manages to straddle both of those things by virtue of sheer bloody-minded repetition.

Circle have released more innovative, forward-thinking, adventurous, experimental, intellectual and just-plain-strange records. But Terminal is among their most pleasurable collections. There's something joyous about the way in which they take such overly familiar rock tropes and treat them with precisely the right amounts of moist reverence and granite-faced disdain, all shot through with that ineffable, infuriatingly elusive Circleness.

Out Fri 23 Jun (Southern Lord).

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