It's been nearly twenty years since we last had a full-length album from Ramleh operating in "rock" mode, but the sprawling new double album Circular Time sees these British noise rock legends returning with their most intense work since re-emerging in recent years. One of the key bands to emerge from the British post-industrial underground of the early 1980s alongside their Broken Flag label-mates Skullflower, Ramleh continually shifted between the extreme, confrontational power electronics of their early material and their later forays into searing, lysergic noise rock, right up until the band went on an extended hiatus in the late 1990s. The group would return later the following decade with a number of reissues and new releases, but up until now, almost all of the new material from the re-activated Ramleh leaned more towards their power electronics and harsh noise tendencies. But with this massive new album, these distortion masters (now comprised of founding member Gary Mundy, longtime member Anthony Di Franco, and new drummer Martyn Watts) have returned with nearly two hours of speaker-shredding, void-gazing psychedelia, pushing the pummeling, Hawkwindian meltdowns heard on classic 90's-era albums like Be Careful What You Wish For and Shooters Hill into realms of total obliteration.
Still forged from a simple but savage combination of pummeling mogodon drumming, monstrously overloaded synthesizers and elliptical, sludge-encrusted bass riffs that anchor the squalls of brutal, electrified guitar noise that crash across these thirteen tracks, Ramleh's sound remains hypnotically crushing. From the almost pastoral strum of opener "Re-entry" that ends up exploding into a frenzy of howling feedback and motorik propulsion, the galloping power and delay-drenched delirium of "Incubator", to the lurching post-punk of "The Tower", the ferocious, volcanic ragas of "Renaissance Warfare", and the lumbering, almost Sabbathian bass-thud and longform guitar exploration that winds through songs like "The March" and "American Womanhood", Ramleh excavate some of their most monstrous riffs and amplifier meltdowns to date. Heavy, zoned-out drone-rock grooves are unleashed amid gales of sky-scorching guitar noise, with epic psych-shred workouts stretched out across storms of nebular effects. Eerie choral ambience rises above over-modulated bass-lines and tumultuous drumming. Distant vocals howl beneath sheets of shimmering guitar, and streaks of twisted, mutant dub materialize within some of the album's catchier moments. Cacophonies of blissed-out guitar squall and violent drumming come tumbling out of the speakers in a rush of freeform psychnoise, and vast, rumbling dronescapes unfurl in the abyss, enfolding majestic but brutally distorted melodies in waves of shadowy low-frequency synth. It's dark, often brutal music, but also shot through with moments of sweeping, apocalyptic beauty, building to the powerful back-to-back finale of "Weird Tyranny" and "Never Returner" that are as utterly blasted and majestic as anything we've heard from Ramleh in the band's thirty-some year existence.