CIRCLE ONE: Never Give Up: LP

Normally a band releasing an album some twenty-five years after their last one came out is a dicey proposition. Ah, but this is Circle One we’re talking about, a band whose members have remained an active part of L.A.’s punk scene pretty much the entirety of that gap. What this means is while they may have gotten a bit longer in the tooth, they’re still very much in touch with both their past glory and how they’ve evolved as people and musicians, and the songs here reflect both. Roughly half of the tunes date back to the band’s first go-round, when the late John Macias fronted the band, and the others are brand spankin’ new tracks, with all of the above recorded within the past year or so—they’ve been back together and gigging regularly for a few years now—and featuring new vocalist Billy Brown fronting the lineup that produced their last album, Patterns of Force. While that album is now rightly considered a hardcore classic, this one is significantly more consistent, with not a stinker to be found anywhere. The band still knows how to dish ’em out fast’n’mean, any musical proficiency they’ve amassed over the past quarter century manifests itself in tightness and precision rather than metal wanking and pretentiousness, and the lyrical subject matter remains as topical as ever, with considerably less Jesus influence in evidence with John’s absence, resulting in a doozy of a disc wherein they’ve expanded upon, rather than killed off, the band’s soul. As someone who’s been a fan for more years than some punkers have been alive, this was more than worth the wait and can’t come more highly recommended.

 –jimmy (Artifix)