There is a lot of fun to be found on this album. Circle of Sighs come at us with a mysterious and vibrant opus that prides itself on dumbfounding expectations. Upon looking at the appearance of the musicians, costumes and all, you may be forgiven for thinking that this is an endeavor of rustic black metal proportions, but little could be further from the truth. Technically, it may be considered doom metal, but only by affiliation. The steady slow rock traits are a mere template of the imaginative overlays that the band further provide with larger-than-life charisma.
Considering the added synths and markedly soft vocals, you could even go as far as to say that it has a Euro pop tint, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is by no means a criticism. Ultimately, all of these nuances are fused together to create a remarkably smooth collection of songs that are as varied as they are eclectic. Such a merging of ideas is a bold endeavour, and I’ve heard many an example of when such a risk falls flat on its face. Salo is not one of them.
The rich tapestry of music does in fact play fully to its strengths. While cementing its own identity, you can hear the wealth of influences gong into Circle of Sighs‘ pool of ideas. At times, you may think you are hearing a riff from a Kyuss track, or the vocals of a Mastadon song, or the synths of Kraftwerk (more on that later), and so forth.
Mixing it all together, Circle of Sighs are able to take listeners through a journey into the otherworldly, the sinister, and the more disturbed recesses of the human psyche. It is a voyage of numerous segments, and the narrative is distinct. There are moments of reflection, foreboding prose, and even the occasional uplift. Musically, it goes rocky, industrial, progressive, and even has fleeting moments of jazz. Through this, we get a clear impression of being somewhere completely different to where we started out. It is a heavy and rich journey, which, whether the styles are to your taste or not, is fully bereft of boredom.
The most notable highlight comes in the form the band’s cover of Kraftwerk‘s “The Man Machine”. Play both the original and this re-imagined version side by side and you hear two very different songs. They appear bound only by the basic melody and the robotic vocals, both used to more ambient effect in Circle of Sighs‘ interpretation. Ultimately the cover is very engaging, and further demonstrates the band’s ability to take previous traits and reshape them into their own designs.
In the guise of Salo, Circle of Sighs have created something that perhaps nobody else could have created. That’s not to say that it’s otherworldly to the point of being audibly unrecognisable, but at the same time, the swill of thought, which has been crafted through passion and conviction, has blended into something very lovable. Salo is packed with fun, mystery, adventurousness, and an extremely fluid narrative. There are no gaps in the quality, and no cracks in its resolve. There is just one relentless stream of intelligent musical ideals that do not subside, but only continue to astound until the very last moment. You are advised to sample Salo at least once, and let your personal preferences take it from there.