Circle One


Circle One Patterns of Force: Alternate Mix LP

CIRCLE ONE is a band I only know through their reputation—and through stories of singer John Macias being killed by police at the age of 29. It’s Macias’s vocals which are the most interesting component of this reissue. Atop mid-tempo to fast SoCal hardcore, Macias sings with way more theatrics than I expected, reminding me of Jello on late DEAD KENNEDYS stuff, or, alternately, Jack Grisham of TSOL.

Circle One Demos & Comp LP

CIRCLE ONE is a band of some notoriety and has taken on the veneer of myth in these many years since the tragic demise of their singer. Formed in the very earliest days of the hardcore scene, they were one of the first bands to see the way forward into the ’80s being blazed by the GERMS and BLACK FLAG. The immediately emerged at the hardest and most aggressive vanguard of the emerging hardcore scene. This LP compiles their two early demos and some comp tracks. Most of us know CIRCLE ONE from the Patterns of Force LP, and the great thing about this LP is that none of these songs are on Patterns of Force. That is to say, by the time the band recorded the LP they had already discarded all these demo tracks and moved on. Some of them we know from comps, but there is a lot of material on here that is probably only known by tape traders until now. Let’s be clear—these are demos, not all the tracks are great, and you can see they were working to tighten up and develop the sound that would emerge on Patterns of Force. Indeed, listening to the progression from 1980 to 1981 to 1983, we hear the punk influences shed for a more purely hardcore sound, and the guitar tone gradually get thicker and beefier. While this isn’t on par with Patterns of Force, it’s certainly a great slice of Southern California hardcore punk history and there are some standout tracks here.

Circle One Patterns of Force LP

A very interesting record. Musically, it’s mostly well-done thrash, with some slower, lighter touches thrown in. It sounds good. Lyrically, it’s an odd combination. There are progressive anti-capitalist (unite against the rich man and his power, manipulation) and anti-racist (don’t let them divide us by color) sentiments. But then there are some glaring contradictions too, such as religious fervor—the blaming of man’s evil (including homosexuality) on Satan, the apocalypse as predicted in the Bible, our need to accept “Him.” Anyone for the People’s Temple?