HistoryFormed in 1992, the band changed its name after a demo called Lovelorn. The band's tape was demo of the month in Aardschock magazine and the band was soon heard on many samplers. Drummer Gavin Harte, also active for a while in local rock band G-String, had Indonesian lineage. The keyboardist of Bifrost joined the band for 1999's Graceful... album. The band had plans to tour with Skyfire in early 2002 but those got cancelled. Instead the band supported its third album by touring with Vomitory, Amon Amarth, etc. and appearing at various festivals during the spring and summer of 2002.
Savelkoul performed guest vocals on Sahara Dust's album in 2003. The 2003 album of Callenish Circle was entitled My Passion//Your Pain. The recordings had taken place in Germany at Stage One Studio under the supervision of producer Andy Classen. The band was supposed to join the No Mercy Festival in April 2003 alongside Testament, Marduk and others. The run was cancelled after the organizers decided to cut back on the number of bands participating in the festival. The band would instead perform several shows with Dismember in The Netherlands and Belgium. Ralph Roelvink, formerly of Genetic Wisdom, temporarily replaced bassist Rocco for the European Bonded By Metal Over Europe Tour of 2003. The band was forced to drop off the tour due to disorganization however.
In early 2004 the band recruited a session drummer in the form of Stormrider's Spike, also formerly of Form. He would be taking over drummer Gavin's duties for the rest of 2004 on the live front. The band began writing music for its fifth album. It was announced that the band will reissue its complete pre-Metal Blade Records releases as a 2-CD album. The release was entitled Forbidden Empathy and set for the 20th of September through Karmageddon Media. Strangely, the band announced in late summer of 2004 that the recently-added session drummer Spike would not join the act for personal reasons for the four concerts supporting Dismember in September. Regular drummer Gavin Harte would take over his duties. The band was also entering the studio soon thereafter. Maurice Brouwers of Engine Of Pain, however, was the new session bassist for the band. The Dutch band completed its fifth album, [Pitch.Black.Effects], in the summer of 2005. The disc was issued on November 14th through Metal Blade Records. A separate edition came with a DVD featuring the band on stage. The band was also announced as the opening act for Paradise Lost on its Mexican tour in January of 2006. After losing much of its inspiration the band called it a day at the beginning of 2007. The band’s farewell show was in March at De Azijnfabriek in Roermond, The Netherlands.
CALLENISH CIRCLE - MY PASSION//YOUR PAIN - METAL BLADE
My Passion//Your Pain is an outstanding album. Fast and heavy, the new album of the Dutch band is replete with quality riffing, invigorating solos and formidable vocals. It is unmistakable that the band has At The Gates influences, but there is more. In fact, Callenish Circle comes near Amon Amarth territory here. Which is interesting given how the label-mates probably share the same A&R man. A full sound engineered by Andy Classen in Germany enhances the music, which can be both heavy and melodic within the same song. Ditto for the vocals which can go from screaming to growling in the same minute. The biography notes "an industrial kick" which takes me to my college radio days where real industrial fans would chastise the neophytes who would label bands like Ministry 'industrial.' Imagine what they would say to the characterization of a couple of samples as their musical genre! The new line-up of Callenish Circle does disappoint here and there with a fake drum and simulated cymbal sound though. Weaker songs like What Could Have Been are outweighed by strong songs. The album also features a video for the song Obey Me. - Ali "The Metallian"
CALLENISH CIRCLE - FORBIDDEN EMPATHY - CANDLELIGHT
This is not Callenish Circle's newest full-length album, but rather a compilation of early material including the Graceful Yet Forbidding, Escape and Drift Of Empathy albums. The band is now on Metal Blade Records and Candlelight and the band's former record company have created a two-disc package containing 29 songs from the band's past. The music is both gruff and melodic here, but if this compilation shows anything it is the band's uneven nature during the presented period. The musical style ranges from My Dying Bride to Death to Unleashed. It is obvious that the newer CC albums have become both heavier and more cohesive. Still, there is plenty of metal tuneage here and the Dutchmen have their moments. - Ali "The Metallian"
CALLENISH CIRCLE - [PITCH.BLACK.EFFECTS] - METAL BLADE
Callenish Circle is still the best non-Swedish bet for fans of old In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, although the electronica and the vocals of Patrick Savelkoul also add Samael to that list. Mixing synthesizer effects and growls to the sound most know as the Gothenburg sound, the rounded five are still several factors short of recording and releasing a definitive album. The band has enough melody and heaviness to qualify, but the silly synthesizers and the industrial elements ultimately take too much away from [Pitch.Black.Effects]. Schwarzes Licht is the kind of troubling track that puts the band’s intentions under a negative light. The spoken segment, gothic sounds and effects kill it all. Blind is better given the heaviness, loud bass and the convincing growls. Is that someone vomiting at the end? Maybe it is their A&R figuring how much better this could do without the dance jingles. Self-inflicted begins with a cool thrash riff, while Guess Again’s blasting is again marred by the synthesizers. The album ends with a title track of sorts and more industrial effects. It is too bad. It denies the band the success it would have otherwise earned. - Anna Tergel
Interviews'No, actually Gavin Harte is not a Dutch name. I think it's more of an English name. My father is from Indonesia which is where 'Harte' comes from.' Gavin Harte is the pummeling drum force behind Dutch band Callenish Circle. He contacted Ali "The Metallian" at Metallian Towers to elaborate on the band's latest album, the Metal Blade issued My Passion // Your Pain. - 08.06.2003
METALLIAN: Gavin, thank you for taking the time to place the call. To begin, will you elaborate on your personal goal going into the recording session for My Passion // Your Pain?
HARTE: It is nice to be speaking with you. My personal goal... I had quite a few problems with the recording of the previous album, Flesh_Power_Dominion. I really wanted to avoid those. Before recording this album I practiced a lot with a click track on my headphones in order to be sure that everything was played in time. Elsewhere, the band wanted to simply create better songs. The songs should have the Callenish Circle sound, but we did not want to have ten songs in the same style.
METALLIAN: Is the end-result satisfactory?
HARTE: I must say that I am ninety-eight percent satisfied with the album. The recording went smoothly and the cooperation with the producer, Andy Classen, was very good. He had the right ideas at the right time and I am really satisfied. As for the other two-percent, that's something that we have to achieve for the next album.
METALLIAN: What would that two-percentage point constitute?
HARTE: There should be a slight change for the sound of the drums next time. It's hard to explain. The snare sound, I am satisfied with it, but there is room for improvement. It should be more aggressive. The sound needs more of an attack, I guess.
As a band, it's a vicious circle. On the one hand we are trying to improve ourselves as musicians. We want to create albums that we really like. If the albums are good, then you will play cool shows and festivals. The shows are becoming bigger and bigger. So, if we can keep this circle going things will go upwards for Callenish Circle.
Having said that, we don't really have a final goal. We just want to have a good time and gain cool experiences. As long as we like what we are doing and we are motivated then there is no reason for us to stop. We don't have an ultimate goal which will mean the end when we achieve it. If you had told us two years ago that we would have had an album released in Europe, North America and Japan, I might have told you that is one of our goals. Now we are there and we will keep on going.
METALLIAN: Speaking of the album at hand, would you agree that the tempo has picked up and that Callenish Circle is getting faster?
HARTE: Well, it was not a purpose of ours to become faster. We were comfortable with the style on Flesh_Power_Dominion. If you would compare that album with its predecessor, Graceful... Yet Forbidding, then you will note that the difference in speed is great. Overall, I agree that we are faster, but the songs are also more melodic. We managed to work every aspect out. There are brutal parts and there are melodic parts. We worked everything out!
METALLIAN: Would you agree with the contention that a Swedish influence has also crept into the music?
HARTE: Yeah, yeah, I know what you mean. We, of course, used the same ingredients as the Swedish bands do. Perhaps we are influenced by those bands, because I listen to bands like Arch Enemy and Soilwork. We have been doing this music for ten years though and we have always had this combination of heavy guitars combined with guitar melodies. So it is not like we decided the Swedish bands are melodic and cool and we should do the same thing. We have always been doing that!
METALLIAN: Can you comment on the biography's contention that your music is also getting more industrial?
HARTE: Industrial? Woo... I guess I would have to read the bio. I have not seen it. Perhaps they want to say that the album sounds modern? There are some electronic sounds, so perhaps that's what they mean? The only thing I can come up with is how several intros have the electronic touch, I guess. We want Callenish Circle to be a modern-sounding extreme metal band. We want to be fresh-sounding and modern.
METALLIAN: Metal Blade might have been targeting the look of your album's title.
HARTE: Right, I am a software developer by day and I thought it would be funny to use the slashes. It's a matter of design and for the modern touch.
METALLIAN: Listening to the album, one might also believe that he can hear the occasional drum machine...
HARTE: No, it's all natural drums. The only thing that is not natural is the sound of the kick. It's the sound of a natural kick combined with a sample. I think I can understand why you would think that though. All digital recordings make the cymbals sound less natural than an analogue recording. In the early days we were recording in an analogue studio, and the cymbals on those albums sound like real ones. That is one disadvantage of working with a digital recording studio.
Those are definitely real drums. Otherwise, the producer changed something while we were sleeping (laughs)! Otherwise I played on the album and that's me you are hearing and not some kind of a drum machine.
METALLIAN: The album's last three songs, My Passion//, Conflicts and //Your Pain, are placed within brackets. Does that imply the three form a concept?
HARTE: Yes, that is right. You can listen to those three songs as one. They flow into each other. There is not a silence or pause between any two songs. It is a trilogy.
Those songs tie into each other, the album's title and the cover artwork. The concept is about an individual who has a need or will to control others. He has a passion to control other individuals. In the meanwhile, we have individuals who are being controlled and suffer from psychological pains. If you take a look at the cover, you will see the parasitic twin. The left one represents the 'My Passion' part and the right one stands for 'Your Pain.' The left twin is controlling the other one. The right one looks agonized and suffers from pain. We thought that this concept happens often in real life. Think of a child or think of Saddam Hussein and the people of Iraq. It's a concept that can be projected onto many different subjects.
METALLIAN: Interestingly, an older song of Callenish Circle, simultaneously a CD-ROM bonus track on this album, is called Obey Me. The phrases 'obey me' and 'obey you' are often repeated in the current aforementioned trilogy. Is there a connection?
HARTE: That is right. I wrote those lyrics. The lyrics to Obey Me, from the Flesh_Power_Dominion album, have the same concept as the trilogy. They are about control. I thought it would be cool to have a flashback from the previous album. The trilogy's lyrics also contains the words flesh, power and dominion, so are the words 'my passion,' et cetra.
All the songs on this album handle human emotions. This is not a concept album, but the song Soul Messiah, for instance, talks about addiction. Then again, I did not write all the lyrics.
METALLIAN: On a different note, Callenish Circle has undergone a line-up change between this and the last album. Why was that?
HARTE: We changed our bass player in July of 2002.We decided that it was better for us and our former bass player, Roland Schuschke, to go in separate ways. He was not feeling comfortable within the band and so it was better for us and him to separate. It was pretty quickly thereafter that we recruited our new bassist, Rene Rocco. He is a really cool and funny guy. He is totally devoted to thrash metal. He flies to the USA annually to see some of his favourite thrash bands there.
METALLIAN: Do you care to mention why the divorce occurred?
HARTE: Err... there are still some things going on between our old bass player and us. These are financial issues. We don't want to talk about it in the press. We do not wish to have our old bass player use our words against us. That's why we like to say that we split up and that it was better for both of us. We made the right decision.
The matter is almost solved. it's not such a big deal. The bass player wasn't easy to communicate with. He might read something and get pissed off. Then he can make our lives pretty miserable, so we don't say anything.
METALLIAN: He was the second bassist to leave the fold.
HARTE: Actually, around 1993-1994 we had a different bass player. Although in those days we were a bunch of friends playing covers, of Pestilence for example, and this guy was just a friend. How it worked was that the guy with the least musical talent became the bass player. It was pretty funny. When we had a concert in '94, we were playing a Death song, which was too difficult for him, he turned down the volume of his bass. He was playing with his strings like he was actually playing the songs, but no one could hear him because he had turned down the volume. Later we decided it was time for a real bass player instead of a 'clown' bass player. The first serious bass player then became Johnny Guerrissen. He later decided that he would rather go fishing which meant a line-up change. Then Roland joined in 1997. He lasted until 2002.
METALLIAN: Did the band just come off the No Mercy Tour in Europe?
HARTE: We were supposed to go on that tour, but we got dropped off a month before the tour started. Somebody decided that there were too many bands on the bill and that several bands have to disappear from the bill. That was a really bad day when we were informed that we can't tour with Testament in April. Fortunately, another tour is coming up in the autumn. That will mean that we will tour with Exodus and Nuclear Assault.
We will also play at several summer festivals. We just came off a small tour with Dismember as well. That was a cool experience.
We would also like to have the chance to play in Canada. We would jump on the plane right away. Metal Blade will contact us if there are any possibilities.
Callenish Circle is singer Patrick Savelkoul, guitarists Ronny Tyssen and Remy Dietern, bassist Rene Rokx and drummer Gavin Harte. My Passion // Your Pain is now available worldwide at all the better record stores.