Circle II Circle – Consequence of Power (AFM Records)

Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

If pondering the output of Savatage members in the 2000’s, one could argue that Zak Stevens and his group Circle II Circle has been the most productive as well as adhering to his emotional, confident metal sensibilities. 2003’s debut Watching In Silence probably came closest to Savatage, given the involvement with songwriting from Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery. All four albums straddle the line between traditional, power and progressive metal, and this latest fifth Consequence of Power isn’t far off that beaten path.

For instance, “Mirage” opens with deep bass plucking from Mitch Stewart while Zak’s delivery mutates between commanding leader during the bridge and chorus and a sinister evil sidekick when going through the lower verse parts. Meanwhile, guitarist Andy Lee doesn’t relegate to normal flash and dash riff/ solo measures – he layers his parts with clean and distortion contrasts, best exemplified with the fervent chug of “Episodes Of Mania” or the potent, hopeful progressive energy within “Take Back Yesterday.”

The album’s concluding track “Blood of an Angel” showcases Zak’s adept ascending and descending melody strengths, a tip of the cap to the power ballad which ran rampant during the 80’s rock radio heydays. You’ll even hear some strains of artists like Disturbed and Godsmack, especially in terms of the rhythm section and how they lock onto the groove during impact tracks like “Whispers in Vain” and “Redemption.”

2006’s Burden of Truth still stands as my peak Circle II Circle album, but rest assured Zak and the boys from Tampa, Florida haven’t veered off their well-honed style with this one. Now it’s time for me to pull out Edge of Thorns and hope someday that Savatage can reign beyond their TSO holiday extravaganzas.

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