I’ve been following Encircle (aka Anthony DiGiacomo, aka Alucard XIX on Youtube) for awhile now. I found him by his dead on covers of various challenging metal songs posted up on the Alucard XIX channel. Later on, I found he wrote music of his own and was immediately impressed by his songwriting ability. Encircle is a solo project with a lot of power and creativity pushing behind it. So far there has been an EP and a full-length released, both sharing the title “Watch The Sky Fall”. But the time has come for new music and a new title. Anthony dropped his second full-length “Into The Dreamstate” January 11th. The album was met by a largely positive response across segments of the metal underground upon it’s release. But how does it stack up to our standards?

After giving this record several listens, it’s safe to say this an amazing dream filled to the brim with original ideas from it’s very own depths. It’s incredible to consider the large majority of this record was constructed by just one man, especially when you recognize the high level complexity and serious attention to detail laced throughout. If anything, Anthony had improved greatly over his previous releases on all fronts from guitar technique to actual songwriting. There’s a fascinating balance of ethereal and heavy elements to be found in this dreamstate. Some songs will pack a huge punch while others provide taste. But all of the above are powerful. The songwriting is quite impressive this time around. I especially enjoy Anthony’s solid progressions and chord choices. All in all, this album really stands out among the Prog Metal pack as a beast of it’s own. To put it simply, “Into The Dreamstate” is god damn incredible!

Something else that makes this record stand out is the abundance of guitar cameos contributed from various artists across the metal underground. All of which are awesome. This includes solos from Dan Wieten of The Omega Experiment, Chris Vogagis of Wide Eyes, and Sarah Longfield of The Fine Constant among others. I should also note the album received a excellent mix from Chris Purvis of Friend for a Foe, but Anthony also had his hands in the production process. It’s always great to see so many talents come together.

Now onto the content. Every track found on “Into The Dreamstate” has something special to offer, but some stand out especially. “When Colors Bleed Away” is the albums first venture into the tasty side of things, providing awe-inspiring guitar work through purpose and direction. But as hinted at above, it keeps a balance with a heavy edge. Especially towards the end when it descends into total chaos. The title track was released shortly before the rest of the album and stands strong as one of the best. “Into The Dreamstate” is just plain powerful. In particular, the chord choices and an incredible drum groove about half way through bolster this track among the rest. It also includes a phenomenal contribution from the virtuosic Sarah Longfield. It transitions smoothly into “You Were The Tempest”, which is interestingly a completely acoustic interlude in the vein of Andy McKee. “An Awful Image Of Calm Power” riffs like hell. There’s one lead in particular that appears twice to soar above the rest. Power is an appropriate word to have in the title. It fades into calm atmosphere which leads directly into the next song, “Confessor”. Similar to the track before, this one riffs like hell as an adrenaline infused, stand out song. At the end it reverses into a potent, mosh worthy break. “Retribution” was released awhile back as a single. It’s easily one of the heaviest, most chaotic parts of “Into The Dreamstate”, slamming out a furious metal edge. Dan Wieten of The Omega Experiment provides an awesome guitar solo on this one, making it shine even brighter. “The Curse Of Consciousness” isn’t only the longest track on the album, it’s one of the best – if not the best. I highly recommend you listen to see why. “If The Day Should Come” opens up the ending with a massive orchestral soundscape before plunging into intelligently conceived guitar work. This is a thoroughly enjoyable track and a great way to close out the album.

I personally have no real criticisms here. Objectively, a few tracks may not be as appealing as others. Also the programmed drums may not be the most exciting. But when you consider the legendary amount of effort put into this album, these are very minor blemishes – if anything.

This is easily the most impressive instrumental album to be released in 2013 so far. Filled with adrenaline pumping composition and huge, original ideas, it’s hard to go wrong with “Into The Dreamstate”. Especially considering you can buy the album for only $5 on Bandcamp! That’s a deal and a half! Go ahead and sample a few tracks above and stream through the entire album on the official Encircle Bandcamp. You won’t regret the greatness \m/

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