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A Nice Surprise - 79%

Dragonchaser, October 22nd, 2010

Zak Stevens and his post-Savatage outfit Circle II Circle have failed to hold my interest since the release of their coveted Watching In Silence debut; their output since has been lukewarm and uninspired. Now they are back with their fifth album of melody-tinged Prog-Power Metal in the Edge Of Thorns/Handful Of Rain vein. Should we really care? Actually, we should. Because this time, Zak and boys have done something right, and as a result Consequence Of Power is their most palatable release since that wonderful first disc.

The production (as always) is drier that a bucket of sand, but the performances demand real respect, especially Zak's, as his voice is on fire here; clear, raw, and very natural. With the bland production job, it makes the album sound almost live, as if they are playing it in some smoky bar. The songs themselves are very strong, with each one having a cool riff, refrain, or solo to keep the listener on his toes. There aren't any Oliva-esque gems like on the debut, but unlike their last insipid attempt from a couple of years ago, every song is catchy and forceful, with "Whispers In Vain" and the title track getting the momentum going with fast drums, soaring melodies, and enough energy to make you want to hear what else they have in store.

Without a doubt, the highlight here is "Take Back Yesterday", an emotional tune with a great chorus just like the old days, and even the double-kicked "Episodes Of Mania" slaps you about with its slashing guitar work and involving, narrative-driven lyrics. Closing as usual with a Sava-ballad - "Blood Of An Angel" - Consequence Of Power puts Circle II Circle back on the map, and though it takes a few listens to click, the album bodes well for the future.

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