If you’ve never heard them before, you would be forgiven for thinking, upon first listen, that there is a very Savatage quality to Circle II Circle’s sound: it’s a comparison that you would be more than justified making, as CIIC frontman Zak Stevens spent eight years at the helm of the former, in their most commercially successful era, between 1993’s ‘Edge Of Thorns’ and the epic ‘The Wake Of Magellan’ in 1998.
Despite having quit Savatage more than a decade ago, and releasing five albums with CIIC, it could be argued that Stevens has struggled to throw off the mantle of his former band – so much so that he turned history full circle (sic) when CIIC played last summer’s Wacken, by performing his Savs swansong ‘The Wake Of Magellan’ in its entirety.
With Stevens’ history being difficult to ignore, and the man himself making it almost impossible to do so, it is perhaps not overly surprising that, as mooted at the outset of this review, there is a very Savatage sound to ‘Seasons Will Fall’: certainly, all the right ingredients are here, and all in the correct mix – big guitars, big riffs, big harmonies, big melodies… you get the gist – lots of big stuff!
However, the album also has a much more commercial edge than Savatage ever did, such as on ‘End Of Emotion’, which at one time in the not too distant past would have been described as “radio friendly”, with its massive, soaring melody. The same can be said of ‘Dreams That Never Die’, ‘Never Gonna Stop’ and ‘Isolation’, which have sound that is very much rooted in late 80s/early 90s AOR, but with heavier guitars, and result in a sound that, while catchy and in places anthemic, is just a bit too polished.
It’s a good album, and there are some truly great hooks and momentous, er, moments: but, is it enough, even after all this time, to help Stevens lift the weight of history from his shoulders. The simple answer is no. And, while the singer keeps digging up his past to the detriment of allowing his current band to move forward, it is a situation which is unlikely to change in the very near future. Nevertheless, an album for aficionados.[6/10]
- Diamond Blade
- Without A Sound
- Killing Death
- End Of Emotion
- Dreams That Never Die
- Seasons Will Fall
- Never Gonna Stop
- Sweet Despair
- Only Yesterday
‘Seasons Will Fall’ is released on earMUSIC on February 25th.