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CIRCLE II CIRCLE
www.circle2circle.net
Floridian metallers Circle II Circle, formed by 90s Savatage singer Zak Stevens, are back with their follow-up to 2013's 'Seasons Will Fall' album, 'Reign of Darkness'. Hot on the heels of Stevens' participation in Savatage's much touted, long-awaited reunion at Wacken this year, with speculation rife as to whether it's a permanent or ephemeral return for the legendary band, it seems at least his steadfast and long-running post-Savatage outfit are here to stay. But is that good news? After a distinct lack of positive reviews for 'Seasons Will Fall', with many critics declaring it to be Circle II Circle's weakest work, does 'Reign of Darkness' hit the mark? A return to form? It is, albeit certainly not their best work. Structurally, compositions are fairly straightforward with some well posited and paced tempo changes, plus plenty of shifts from half-time to full-time patterns that are sure to get heads banging en masse. Melodies are interwoven through both Stevens' ever-reliable voice, Henning Wanner's keyboards, and the guitar duality of Christian David Wentz and Bill Hudson... and the melodies are generally likeable with a healthy dose of consonance. There's little distracting dissonance in Circle II Circle's modus operandi; it's more about harmonious accessibility, despite some full-on heavy riffing, and that works well for them. However, there's an overriding feeling that they're playing it a little too safe here. A few prog-lite twists are introduced in sporadic passages to give the music a slightly more innovative lift, although these are all too fleeting. I guess this would be criticising 'Reign of Darkness' for something it's not attempting to be, though. Their dynamic is, clearly, an unequivocal one. The moments where the album genuinely shines is the way in which Wanner works his piano-based keyboard widdlings into various songs la Jon Oliva ('Deep Within' is a fine example of this). This, most certainly, elevates songs into more interesting territory. Overall, 'Reign of Darkness' is distinctly better than 'Seasons Will Fall', although suffers from predictability and genericism; all too often lacking that extra spark. Still, it provides a great listen when you're in the mood for something solid yet unchallenging.
LABEL:
FORMAT:
earMUSIC
Album
REIGN OF DARKNESS
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Review by Mark Holmes
RUNNING TIME:
46:19
RELEASE DATE:
16th Oct 2015
TRACK LISTING
1) Over-Underture
2) Victim of the Night
3) Untold Dreams
4) It's All Over
5) One More Day
6) Ghost of the Devil
7) Somewhere
8) Deep Within
9) Taken Away
10) Sinister Love
11) Solitary Rain
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
USA
"A return to form? It is, albeit certainly not their best work."
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