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While clicking my way through countless negative reviews on some of my favorite power metal bands, I must say that I was at a total loss for words. It wasn’t until I sampled these albums for myself that I essentially started to believe that such outlandishly low scores were actually warranted. As much as I hate to admit it, this isn’t shaping up to be too glorious of a year for power metal fans. With highly anticipated releases by Metalium, Crystal Eyes, and the almighty Falconer transpiring as complete departures from expectation, these albums will all sink into the sands of absolute mediocrity along with the disc in question.
Granted, Freedom Call have always been somewhat of a generic and derived power metal act, there have been a handful of instances (namely Eternity) where they succeeded in recreating specific Angra-isms that influenced the songwriting template that they have been exploiting since their formation. Unable to step out from the shadow of said Brazilian legends, Freedom Call have resorted to desperate measures in hopes of finding their own identity; the result is The Circle Of Life. While the band have indeed mostly moved away from the clone label that has plagued them all these years, this attempt at evolving their sound only finds the band backpedaling and mimicking someone else.
At first glance of the disc’s tracklist, it appears that The Circle Of Life is a compilation of covers, but that is not the case at all. Further proving that they can’t come up with their own ideas, Freedom Call lift some already well known song titles from some already well known power metal bands. Borrowing from the home team, “Mother Earth” and “Hero Nation” are both headings used by Metalium, while “Starlight” is a name from Helloween. The most obvious example of theft is Stratovarius’ “Hunting High And Low”, and of course no Freedom Call album would be complete without an Angra title, “Carry On”.
Not only song titles come off as familiar on The Circle Of Life, but also much of the music. That picture of the 80’s that has plainly manifested in your mind is no coincidence. Without an ounce of subtlety, “Kings & Queens” recalls a certain Ozzy Osbourne classic about barking at the moon, while the title track takes a walk down “Baker Street” with Gerry Rafferty and stops to watch the children cry with White Lion. Even with all these memorable moments placed throughout the album, The Circle Of Life is all but completely unmemorable.
With an immaculate production and some fairly impressive musicianship, a few tracks from The Circle Of Life display a potential to be gratifying; unfortunately they are overshadowed by uninteresting and uninspired masses of power metal poo, and essentially forgotten altogether. Only the most rabid and confused Freedom Call fans will deem this album acceptable on any level.