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Music / Circle Takes the Square

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Confusion at its finest.

"As the roots undo
And the branch becomes..."
—"Interview at the Ruins"

Circle Takes the Square is a Mind Screw Post-Hardcore/Screamo band formed in 2000, in Savannah, Georgia. They are often praised for their unique blend of Progressive Rock, screamo, grindcore, sludge metal, Post-Rock, and Emo Music. They have released a total of two albums in their run, a split with fellow screamo oddballs pg.99, and a self-titled EP, which have attracted substantial critical acclaim and have been extremely influential in their (many) genres.

Please be aware that if you read their lyrics, your mind will definitely be in its own state of hell.


  • Circle Takes the Square [EP] (2001)
  • Document 13: Pyramids in Cloth [Split] (2002) (w/ pg.99)
  • As the Roots Undo (2004)
  • Decompositions: Volume Number One, Chapter I: Rites of Initiation [EP] (2011)
  • Decompositions: Volume Number One (2012)

Current Band members:

  • Drew Speziale: Vocals, guitar
  • Kathleen Stubelek: Vocals, bass
  • Caleb Collins: Drums, percussion, sampler

"Rejoice, rejoice, a noble birth...":

  • Album Intro Track: As the Roots Undo has one.
  • Album Title Drop: Prime example is As the Roots Undo with the song "Interview at the Ruins".
    A murmur from the ruins echoes softly as the roots undo, and the branch becomes...
  • Boléro Effect: They make very effective usage of this in many of their songs, although they probably qualify as substantially more extreme than the median example. See Mood Whiplash below.
  • Careful with That Axe: It's screamo, so this comes with the territory, though it's not their only vocal style.
  • Concept Album: Debated, but it seems that all their albums are concept albums, but the lyrics are such a Mind Screw, it's difficult to find out what they are about.
    The concept of As the Roots Undo is sort of stated in the album booklet, but it's just as vague as the lyrics: "In a nutshell the concept behind the songs was to document the different points on a path to self-realization. In our interpretation of this journey, the wanderer ends up essentially in the same place that he or she began, if not humbled and even more overwhelmed. In a sense the ending is somewhat tragic, but without experiencing all of the lows how can anyone ever appreciate the amazing subtleties that this world has to offer? And so, if the search for beauty and understanding is cyclical and unending, then at least we'll never stop experiencing the thrill of the hunt..."
  • Epic Rocking: Not that it stopped them. On As the Roots Undo, 'Kill the Switch' is close to nine minutes and 'A Crater to Cough In' is around eight, but on Decompositions: Volume Number One, they take it up to eleven with 'North Star, Inverted', being close to eleven minutes, and that's not all. If you exclude the intro track, their average song length over their two full-length albums is over six minutes.
  • Fading into the Next Song: Basically all of the song transitions on their two full-length albums and also on the pg.99 split, to the point that it's often difficult to tell where one ends and the next begins without looking at one's music player.note  The self-titled EP is an exception; the only transition that employs this is "Comes With the Fall" into "Houdini Logic".
  • Genre-Busting, Genre Mashup, Genre Roulette: Ain't it so much. They're pretty difficult to categorise given how many styles they fit into their sound. You're liable to hear Post-Hardcore, screamo, emo, grindcore, Progressive Rock, Post-Rock, and Progressive Metal, but they also throw elements of folk, Black Metal, Math Rock, Hardcore Punk, metalcore, noise, Post-Punk, and several other genres into some of their songs. Strangely, the band's own Drew Speziale categorised As the Roots Undo as "just a Punk Rock record from 2004", which is about the most unassuming description one could imagine of their music, bordering on Suspiciously Specific Denial territory.
  • Green Aesop and Gaia's Vengeance: "North Star, Inverted" seems to have these as its primary themes, though given the band's usual Mind Screw, interpretations may vary.
  • Lead Bassist: Kathleen by virtue of being one of the two lead vocalists, but also for playing some highly technical and complex bass lines that sometimes serve as the melodic foundation for an entire song ("Singing Vengeance into Being", for instance).
  • Lead Drummer: Caleb's drumming has also been singled out for quite a bit of praise. Really, there isn't a weak performer in this ensemble - and given the technicality of their compositions, there really can't be.
  • Loudness War: Both albums and the EP are pretty squished, although Artistic License may apply. It should be noted that both albums have wide dynamic shifts throughout, but when they get loud, they clip really badly. Strangely, their side of the pg.99 split seems to have been an exception. It's possible they didn't bother because it was a vinyl-only release and the average volume of the format is physically limited by the nature of the medium.
  • Mind Screw: In spades.
  • Mood Whiplash: This too. It's probably one of their most noteworthy musical characteristics. "Non Objective Portrait of Karma" is a pretty typical example.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Both Kathleen and Drew can do clean vocals and screamed vocals.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "North Star, Inverted", for the most part. After the first couple of minutes, the vocals consist entirely of clean singing, and the electric guitar is relegated to a backup role.
  • Uncommon Time: Part and parcel of being progressive music, though it probably doesn't show up in every song. "Kill the Switch" has a few examples, though it also has long passages in Common Time. The second album has quite a few songs that nearly take this to Math Rock levels and earned them comparisons to The Dillinger Escape Plan.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: If you can understand the lyrics through all the screaming, you'll still be confused.