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While still a member of popular German power metal band Blind Guardian drummer Thomas Stauch formed a side project band called Savage Circus=3B the reason not being completely satisfied with the direction Blind Guardian had been heading in with their last two albums at the time (A Night at the Opera and Nightfall in Middle-Earth).
Joining Stauch with his new venture was Iron Savior vocalist/guitarist Piet Sielck (Stauch was the drummer for Iron Saviors debut album back in 1997)=3B who then contacted and brought aboard two members of power metal band Persuader vocalist Jens Carlsson and guitarist Emil Norberg. Piet would play both rhythm guitar and bass on the debut album Dreamland Manor which was released in 2005 and received healthy reviews from the metal world.
Then in 2006 the first signs of strain occurred when Stauch had to take a leave of absence from the band due to serious personal problems. During a tour of the album Iron Savior drummer Thomas Nack replaced the absent Stauch. As time went by Stauch never returned to the band and was officially released by Savage Circus in 2007. Replacing Stauch was legend journeyman drummer Mike Terrana and lastly Iron Savior bassist Yenz Leonhardt was brought onboard to perform bass duties.
So two years later and after Iron Savior have finished with their current album and subsequent tour with Megatropolis fixed themselves upon the second Savage Circus album entitled Of Doom and Death. Released in mid October 2009 Of Doom and Death continues the musical trend born from the debut featuring scorching heavy guitars addictive melodic harmonies and majestic arrangements with powerful songwriting. Those who enjoyed Dreamland Manor will most certainly get excited over this new powerful effort from Savage Circus.
With huge influences ranging from early Iron Savior Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray of Doom and Death thunders high from beginning to end. Starting with the title track the pulse is riding fast with Jens Carlsson at the top of his game sounding more and more like Hansi Kursch but more harsher and explosive.
Mike Terrana is certainly a wonderful addition to the band and his pummelling technical drumming adds a fine element to their sound. The Ordeal has an Iron Savior influence about it with Piets signature guitar chords leading the way.
With many tempo changes throughout the track has an atmospheric and epic feel and is one of the best on the CD.
Other tracks which stood out on Of Doom and Death include Chasing the Rainbow which has an awesome opening riff which continues into the song. The memorable chorus and emotional vocals gives this track the two thumbs up. Empire
starts out with a pulsing eeriness before the main riffs belts out. Chalk this top track down to the creative song writing and of course the soaring guitars from Piet and Emil. Jens is such an emotional vocalist and is perfect for heavy metal as his gruff style excels not only on Empire but on the whole disc.
Legend of Leto II is a mid-paced melodic track quite technical and sophisticated while Jens vocal delivery is absolutely fantastic on this song.
The last of the killer tracks is From the Ashes another quick-paced track much in the same vein as the previous tracks but with a top-notch solo in the middle and towards the end.
The main difference of Savage Circus from your typical power metal bands is the length of the tracks that appear on both Savage Circus albums. All the tracks except for the final track Dreamland are quite lengthy and average at around the 6 and a half minute area. In a few cases I felt that some of these lengthy tracks may have been better if a minute or so was shaved off but still that comes down to personal opinion. One shortfall I found from listening to this album is that Savage Circus doesn't quite have their own identity just yet. All of their tracks are influenced and sound very much like the band members primary groups such as Iron Savior and Persuader while throughout the album there is always a Blind Guardian feel. Sure there is a sound unique to Savage Circus but the similarities for now are still very close to those above mentioned bands.
Overall I was impressed more so with the song writing Jens vocals and Mike Terranas drumming than anything else. All of the tracks on the CD are very consistent and all are above average in quality. Once this band moves away from those influences mentioned above I believe that they will make huge strides in the metal world and the side project label currently above their heads will be taken away for a fully fledged power metal band. Obviously if you are a fan of power metal but especially Iron Savior Gamma Ray Blind Guardian or Persuader you will be jumping for joy over Savage Circus. Of Doom and Death is definitely a solid power metal album and should be a highlight of all the albums released in this year.
Originally written for www.themetalforge.com
It is a little bit frustrating, the way that terms like “clone” and “carbon copy” are cavalierly thrown about when dealing with bands residing in the same musical genre. It is to be expected out of the pop music types who think all music ought to sound the same, and simultaneously use the “it all sounds the same argument” to denigrate styles of music that they don’t like. But when otherwise discerning metal fans engage in this nonsense, particularly insofar as Savage Circus is concerned, it’s the sort of thing that the worst migraine headaches are made of. There are naturally some notable similarities to be found between their music and that of early to mid 90s Blind Guardian, but the resulting songs that came about by the conglomeration of Stauch, Seilck, Norberg and Carlsson in “Dreamland Manor” 4 years prior had a character all their own, drawing from attributes of each of the 3 bands that were drawn from to create this project.
In keeping with this seemingly unknown yet painfully obvious truth, a single listen to “Of Doom And Death” reveals a band that doesn’t repeat themselves, in spite of limiting themselves to a very stylized and methodical approach to power metal. The heavy similarities to 92-95 era Blind Guardian have been tempered further by Piet’s outer spacey approach to guitar production and more Iron Maiden based approach to melodic lead breaks, resulting in a sound that is somewhat lighter and less thrash-like than “Dreamland Manor”. This is further bolstered by a somewhat cleaner vocal performance out of Jens, a larger backup presence out of Piet, which occasionally gives the choruses less of a gang feel and more of an arena character. In fact, the only thing that is really consistently held over from the previous album here is the heavy ended drum sound, as Mike Terrana essentially mirror’s the now departed Thomen’s sound exactly, much like water might emulate the cup it’s poured into.
If one were to try and nail this album down to some sort of direct emulation of something else, the best way to describe it would be as akin to Hansi Kürsch doing taking over lead vocals on a new Iron Savior album in somewhat of a Demons And Wizards approach, but with Piet conforming his songwriting to Hansi rather than the BG front man conforming his voice to Jon Schaffer’s songwriting. A quick listen to “Devil’s Spawn”, “Chasing The Rainbow” and “From The Ashes” sees something musically more akin to the “Painkiller” approach of Iron Savior’s “Unification”, with large sounding and pretty predictable choruses and a somewhat simpler format that incorporates the occasional atmospheric keyboard and slower guitar groove. There’s still a pretty strong inkling of the previous album to be found in the hyper driving cruiser “Empire” and the epic homage to “Imaginations From The Other Side” that is “Of Doom And Death”, but otherwise this album comes off as much mellower and melodic that its predecessor, perhaps in great part due to Piet having to assume the role of lone metal elder and chief leader of the outfit.
Although this doesn’t quite hit the mark of a riveting masterpiece the way that “Dreamland Manor” did, this is still solid territory and a cut above the rest. The only area where Piet and the others kind of fall on their faces is during the album’s token quiet number “Ballad Of Susan”, which takes forever to really go anywhere and largely comes off as Jens and Piet trying and failing at invoking the memory of Freddy Mercury vocally. But in much the same manner as before, Savage Circus has offered up a consistent collection of ambitious yet very familiar sounding metal compositions, being both catchy as hell and woefully unfit for radio. Anyone who enjoys the heavier German vintage of Grave Digger and Paragon mixed with a somewhat progressive edge should feel right at home here.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on April 24, 2010.
For anyone that is unfamiliar with Savage Circus it is blatant Blind Guardian worship. Jens Carlsson sounds identical to Hansi, you will need a well trained ear to notice the subtle differences between the two signers. Formed by the ex-drummer of Blind Guardian and now departed from Savage Circus, the remaining members are left to their own devices to create their newest forgery.
It took me awhile to accept Dreamland Manor, I didn't really see the point of listening to a band that sounds exactly like Blind Guardian when I can just listen to the original. After some self-convincing Dreamland Manor has some outstanding tracks worthy of Blind Guardian themselves, I guess they needed Thomen to create a decent counterfeit.
There was nothing special about Savage Circus to begin with, and Of Doom and Death is even less special. For a musical synopsis its really easy to describe, imagine a watered-down Blind Guardian there is nothing more to it than that. The songs aren't horrible, they just drone on without inspiration and have no memorable qualities. Basically if Blind Guardian was hopped up on a bunch of pain meds and made a cd, this is what you would get. There is really no one song I could even recommend to anyone they are all equally bland.
Savage Circus should just call it quits, they lost the one thing that made them acceptable Blind Guardian clones and that was an actual member of Blind Guardian. They got lucky with Dreamland Manor and should just focus on their respective "main" projects and ditch this shit. Because being Blind Guardian impersonators is no longer in the cards for them.
Formed by Thomen Stauch as an attempt to return to the mid to late 90s appeal of Blind Guardian (just before they started over producing and tracking their albums into cubicle sterility), the Savage Circus Dreamland Manor debut in 2005 was exactly that. Four years later, the followup has arrived, and ironically, Thomen Stauch has been replaced with able veteran and scenester Mike Terrana. The band still features Jen and Emil from Persuader, Piet Sielck and Yenz of Iron Savior, and a style which still remains a hybrid of Blind Guardian's Imaginations from the Other Side and most of Iron Savior's discography.
Essentially, while sitting at a stopgap, waiting for the next Blind Guardian record (which, I'm predicting, will have good songs but sound like ass due to the lazy, excess multi tracking), Savage Circus gives you the opportunity to experience what that band might sound like if it was still producing its best material. Jen Carlsson is nearly a dead ringer to Hansi, just a little more conversative. Piet Sielck's presence is also huge, and I find this band to be best when the two work in concert, which they do often.
Of Doom & Death is strong, stronger than Dreamland Manor; with a powerful, chugging bottom end to weigh down its myriad melodies and the soaring melodies that these two crooners evoke. The album is simply loaded with excellent, driving rhythms, Blind Guardian-level guitars and a wondrous atmosphere. All of the songs are good, though I was truly smitten by "The Ordeal", the mystical "Chasing the Rainbow", and the epic, thundering "Empire".
What more to say? If you loved Dreamland Manor, you will probably like this even more. Thomen may no longer be with the band, but they haven't changed all that much. Since the project was established by a member of Blind Guardian to sound like Blind Guardian (and Iron Savior), it's difficult to call Savage Circus a complete ripoff. The difference is less than Coke vs. Pepsi. So if that possibility offends you, skip it. I'll award no points for originality, just for asskicking, and this album is up there with Grave Digger and Rebellion for the strongest German power metal of late. And it's better than A Twist in the Myth...
Highlights: The Ordeal, Devil's Spawn, Chasing the Rainbow, Empire
OK, we all know the story of this band, what other bands the members are playing in, who their past drummer is and replacement members that have followed. So let’s now instead focus on this, Savage Circus’ 2nd album “Of Doom And Death”, which is now here 4 years after their debutalbum...and it pretty much brings more of the same. We who know the band and has heard them before knows that we’re dealing with music that sounds like a mixture of early Blind Guardian and Iron Savior – there’s no denying, it is a fact, and this time around there’s an extra spice of the later mentioned band. It feels in general like the songs are tried to be more groovy (more traditional metal, if you like) but seen to the big picture, it’s no drastic changes/development. It’s still big backing choirs, lots of catchy melodies, long songs with long soloparts, tempo-changes, traditional and quite simple riffing. The structures and build-up of the songs is following the same concept as on the debut.
Listening through the whole album from beginning to end can be compared with a rollercoaster ride. The highs and lows are widely spread out here, with one or two good songs, often followed rapidly by a weak song. First song of the album, the titletrack, is a variated story. Fast intro, leading into heavy chugging verses and is followed by many different passages and tempos. A really nice song, even if the chorus is weak. The grim sounding “ooh-ooh-ooh”-parts are the song’s highlight. Other good songs can be found in “The Ordeal” with it’s nice chorus and guitarwork, the heavy “Chasing The Rainbow” (reminds of Iron Savior), “Legend (Of Leto II) whom has a fantastic yet short intro, and is a heavy one. Weak chorus, though. Last but not least, the best song of the album: “From The Ashes”. Here the guys really nailed it. Heavy intro, with almost thrashy riffs, then taking down the tempo in the verses (similar with the ones in the debuts “Ghost Story”) and a soaring melodic chorus that get stuck in your head. The only song on here that has good parts all way through. On the more negative side among the songs we have for example the deepest bottom in the shitty ballad “Ballad Of Susan”. I’ve read people saying it’s majestic and epic, I cannot find either of it in this song. The worst song made by this band so far. The ending song, instrumental “Dreamland” is very unnecessary, feels like they threw it in there just to have more tracks or something, and doesn’t provide much of interest. “Empire” and “Devil’s Spawn” doesn’t have much either that you will go bananas over, just so-so songs that you will get tired of before the song is over, and the lastmentioned sounds like a B-side Iron Savior-song.
The band performances is in top form, the vocals of Jens Carlsson is brilliant as usual, there’s great work on the guitars by Emil and Piet, and the drums of Mike is simple laid – but creates a solid ground. The production is quite compressed and the drums sounds a bit farty – while the guitars on the other hand are raw and screams ‘metal’. Piet did a good job with the guitarsound. It is like that, here and there “Of Doom And Death” really have it’s nice moments. There is no groundbreaking stuff, there is not much originality, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that always. But problem is that it comes a ladle of weak moments here and there too, and because of this the album cannot reach the higher ratings. It is as you maybe have understood, an awfully inconsistent album on many plains, as described, and I gotta say that is is weaker than it’s bigger brother, the debut “Dreamland Manor”. Still, this is absolutely a OK release and should please any fan of Power Metal...at least for a while.
3 best songs: “From The Ashes” - “Of Doom And Death” - “Chasing The Rainbow”
Hey, I didn’t know Blind Guardian had released a new album! And it even sounds like they’re returning to their speed metal days from the 80s from the opening riffs of the first song. Boy, with modern production and their heightened experience in songwriting since then, this ought to be a real killer! I’m really excited now!
…wait a second. Savage Circus? That band that ex-drummer Thomen Staunch formed after he left Blind Guardian? That band that was intended to sound, uh, exactly the same as old Blind Guardian, with no creativity or unique thoughts put into the compositions at all? That band that could probably just steal Blind Guardian’s old songs in their entirety, with no changes at all, and pass them off as ‘new’ to people who would use the whole ‘you don’t have to be original to be good’ defense? Fuck, this is going to suck.
Yes, this is Of Doom and Death, the pointless follow up to the original pointless Savage Circus album from 2005. To add to the pointlessness, Thomen Staunch isn’t even in the band anymore, leaving Jens Carlsson and Piet Sielck to churn out music that is in no way different from the music they play with their own bands. If you ever wanted generic Power Metal, this is it. Right down to its core this is generic and stale, from the Iron Savior production via Sielck to the shiny guitar leads and riffs to Jens Carlsson’s almost criminal aping of Hansi Kursch’s bard-like wail. Seriously, there is no way he developed that singing style without listening to Somewhere Far Beyond in his sleep every night after it was released. It would be one thing if he at least tried to sound like he did in Persuader with the lower growls and the different singing style at times, but here it’s just uninspired Kursch impersonation after uninspired Kursch impersonation, like he sang this stuff on his lunch break. The vocal lines here aren’t awful, but they’re not really all that memorable and they just don’t carry any kind of oomph to them. Very droll.
And what’s this? They wrote a bunch of seven minute songs? What kind of dehumanizing torture is this? In the band’s defense, I guess the songs are listenable enough, but is it really that much of a compliment when every riff, every lead, every note is stolen from Blind Guardian, Iron Savior or Persuader? All the instruments are played well, yeah, but is that really much of a compliment when every member of this band is a veteran of the genre?
None of these songs evoke anything but a yawn and a tired look at the track list to see how much of it is left. They spit some fire with “Empire,” with its big chorus, but then you get the awful “Ballad of Susan,” which sounds like the worst Disney ballad ever written, and you just wonder what the fuck happened.
Let’s just face it, people; these German Power Metal vets have run out of steam. If this is the best they can put together when they have four years and a big label production on their side, it’s pretty safe to say that there’s no point in really wasting your time with Of Doom and Death. An album so devoid of originality that it actually sucks out all the creativity of any room it’s played in.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com
I have a hard time working out if a band like Savage Circus should be applauded for their dedication to a particular style or chastised for not bothering to move on. The band were formed in 2004 following the departure of Thomen Stauch from Blind Guardian with his dissatisfaction at the direction the band had recently taken. He filled a line-up around him before leaving himself for good in 2007, with the result being a band that sound EXACTLY like Blind Guardian yet with no BG members contained within, thus rendering them a bit of a rip-off in my mind.
I have no prior knowledge of 2005's "Dreamland Manor" but I know for sure after a few listens that 2009's "Of Doom And Death" features every key element of what has proven so successful for BG - soaring vocal melodies with plentiful choral backing, and speedy melodically-driven riffery. This formula is used throughout "Of Doom..." with the exception of the curious "Ballad Of Susan", a balladic number so cheesy it feels like it's come out of a Europe b-side recording session with the members of Queen giving some energetic backing vocals. Rather like the father band themselves, many of Savage Circus' best moments come in the form of the choral climaxes where songs rise to levels of significant majesty and grandeur. It might seem a subtle difference but those moments are the reasons why I feel Blind Guardian are just about the only listenable power metal band going. But, yes, this review isn't for BG, I must remember that, though such sentiments could also be spared for SC. The title track, "The Ordeal" and "From The Ashes" all reap the rewards previously sown and even as a self-confessed power metal hater I find myself nodding along to the jovial happiness that springs unbound in Jens Carlsson's suspiciously Hansi Kurch-like vocals.
Dissecting the songs on offer to the nth degree to me seems futile, so let's put it this way - ignoring the soporific "Ballad Of Susan" and what could be described as a closing outro in "Dreamland", we have 7 decent Blind Guardian-worshipping metal numbers here, and as anyone who knows their metal could attest, that is no bad thing when the performance and strength in conviction is of a high level like this. The main question which only time will answer remains though: will BG fans appreciate, and buy, this, or will Savage Circus remain merely a band destined to fill the gaps between albums of their undoubted favourite band?
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net