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Points: 4/5

It's always nice to see the growth process of a young band towards their own particular style. Circles End is a young independent, progressive rock band from Norway. The band was formed in 1994, but it wasn't until 1996 when they started to compose their own material and do gigs. In August 1998, they released their self-titled debut EP. On this EP, Circles End sounded like a cross between 70s art rock (especially the keyboards) and 90s Fates Warning. Since that release, a proper vocalist and new bass player have stabilized the line-up. In my review of the EP, I mentioned a lack of power and daring in their song writing approach. Well after listening to this release, I certainly get the "daring" aspect. The first song "The fine Line" is conventional mid-tempo prog rock reminding me of Enchant on a 70s retro course. The second song "Startled Eye" shows more jazz influences, progressive with slight psychedelic sounds and a very soothing peaceful atmosphere which lets the vocal talents of Karl Riis Jacobsen shine through. The 8-minute epic "Long gone" sees some violin flowing through nicely and has hints of Fates Warning. "Sleepless" is a two-parter of which the first is a superfluous free jazz and the second a vibrant jazz rock. "This Day" is musically comparable to "Long gone." "El Mar/ La Mar" is a joyful instrumental combining up tempo prog rock parts, with 70s Hammond organ playing. Closer "The Dead is me" is a short acoustic with a fitting end. Although generally the songs are not that long, there are a lot of different instrumental parts that flow very well and keep the songs interesting. Unfortunately, this does not leave much room for the soulful vocals. The packaging is very professional, which makes this independent CD up to par with all professional record company releases. (CR)