|Review: Circle II Circle - Watching in Silence|
|Watching in Silence|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2003
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: November 22, 2010
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
for:Watching in Silence
Rated 4/5 (80%) (14 Votes)
A lot is said about Circle II Circle, most of it negative, and this, I presume, is the work of ignorance on the part of the listeners who so obviously have never heard Watching in Silence, the band's shiny debut from 2003, and though their later output is an acquired taste, this is one of the finest post-Savatage releases that has seen the light of day, and any fan of that band or indeed melodic metal in general should rightly have it in their collection.
From the first note, this album brings Handful of Rain-era Savatage to mind, and no wonder. You put Jon Oliva on songwriting duty and have Zak Stevens sing over the top and it's going to sound like Savatage. Saying that, Watching in Silence is certainly more polished than any of the Stevens era records, featuring a warm sound that is easy on the ears but dense enough to explore. What is so great about this album is the songwriting. Opener "Out Of Reach" boasts a great riff and a catchy refrain, getting us off to a good start. But "Sea Of White" (which is the only bad tune here) lets this momentum down. From then on in, it is just pure quality, and if you liked the more reflective and insightful side of Savatage, you will eat this up. "Into The Wind" starts in ballad form before bursting into an excellent, piano-hammered chorus, and the title track which follows is one of the best songs this genre has spat out, full of emotion and uplifting spirit. "Forgiven" and "Walls" have Tri-Siberian Orchestra written all over them, and "Lies" screams with a riff Criss Oliva could've penned, giving us a wake up call.
The best songs here come towards the end, with the brooding "Face To Face" giving us Zak's best vocal, and the strange and mysterious closer "F.O.S" taking us through various moods. As a whole, this album is just boiling with good songs, great musicianship, and first-rate lyrics. It's one of those you want to spin again when it's done, and while Circle II Circle haven't reached these heights since, they are still – along with Jon Oliva's Pain – keeping the Savatage dream alive, even if the band no longer exist. In truth, this is a must have for fans of melodic and sensitive Power Metal, and despite "Sea Of White", I simply cannot fault it. Superb.
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