Listening to so much middling power metal in 2006, it comes as an enormous relief to finally hear from a band that knows how to do it right. Modeled after the classic Savatage of the late ‘80s (in fact, singer Zak Stevens sang with Savatage for a spell in the ‘90s), Circle II Circle shows its European counterparts how to pull off an ambitious conceptual power metal piece in classy fashion, the songs built around a foundation of ornate, creative keyboard arrangements, melodic, tasteful guitar licks, soaring yet measured lead vocals, and most importantly, well-written melodies. It’s all done with such expertise, it’s an absolute pleasure to revel in such numbers as the stately “A Matter of Time”, the catchy “Heal You”, and the robust “Evermore”. The fact that the Florida band chose to make this a concept album about The Da Vinci Code doesn’t get in the way of the song craft; in fact, the album’s one primary weakness is that the lyrics remain a touch on the vague side. Still, this album is much more enjoyable than slogging through Dan Brown’s hackneyed prose, a most welcome dose of melodic heavy metal that few bands seem capable of these days.
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// Notes from the Road
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