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Where does a circle end? - 86%

hells_unicorn, January 24th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Blistering Records

The succession of the metal order could be likened to a circle, where the line separating generations is not so clearly drawn, but rather a singular center that projects itself outwards and has a clear circumference of surrounding points that defines where it exists, though without a real beginning or end. Then again, while there will hopefully never be an end to the movement, the analogy tends to suffer in terms of the lack of a beginning, as the starting point tends to be quite clear. In the case of Germany's melodic power metal strain, it can all be traced back to the late 80s output of Helloween, and to this day power metal could be designated with its own circle analogy of sorts, with the aforementioned band being the de facto center point that projects the actual shape outward. Saidian, a band that had a brief run during the latter half of the 2000s, would likely occupy the point on the circle's border between Edguy and Stratovarius, and their final studio offering Evercircle has naturally been the inspiration for this somewhat lame analogy.

There was a fixation with suggestive visuals with a number of bands in the closing days of the 2000s that was naturally not unique to Saidian if we look at the example of Pagan's Mind's God's Equation and Heavenly's Carpe Diem, but this album doesn't really find itself in similar territory to either of those offerings musically. Perhaps the best way to describe it is as how the first Revolution Renaissance album might have sounded had Timo Tolkki opted to have Tobias Sammet do all the vocals and maintained the tech. happy character of sound that permeated his work on Episode and Visions. Truth be told, many have been quick to point out the similarities that this band held with Edguy, but when getting past Markus Engelfried's vocals, this is definitely closer to something associated with the Malmsteen school of power metal as heard out of Stratovarius, Burning Point, Ghost Machinery and early Sonata Arctica, though there is definitely a hint of a late 90s Edguy swagger to some of these songs as well, and some occasional hints of Sammet's brand of tongue-in-cheek humor when considering the sarcastic tone of "Halos For Everyone".

In keeping with these influences, Saidian doesn't really shy away from embracing some of the AOR aesthetics of a number of iconic late 80s hard rock/heavy metal acts, though they thankfully steer clear of where things began to go on Hellfire Club. Songs such as "The Princess" and "Tokyo" have that sort of spacey, keyboard driven character mixed with mid-80s Van Halen trappings that came to influence Power Quest following their debut album. Markus Bohr's keyboard input on most of this album is about as significant as it can get for any metal band, and it could be argued that he even upstages the technical prowess of Rodrigo Blattert's guitar work, which is highly technical and expressive in itself. This goes beyond lead noodling and informs the overall atmosphere of things, particularly on "Pale Moon Rider" where the echoing synthesizer effects and dense ambient backdrop makes one feel like they are frolicking on a lunar surface while swaying to the otherwise standard rocking beat, and the same basically goes for "Stroke Of Genius". Things even allow for some technical noodling among the entire arrangement during the beginning of "Sign In The Sky", with former Chinchilla bassist Roberto Palacios making an appearance to give the bottom end its due.

It's a tad bittersweet that this would be the album that would mark the end of Saidian's career, as they clearly ended on a high note but nevertheless ended things way too soon. The scene was going through a fairly difficult time at this juncture, as substandard rubbish like Tinnitus Sanctus and The Days Of Grays were being passed off as what power metal was all about, leading a number of steadfast acts to languish on smaller labels such as the short-lived Blistering Records (which was the vehicle for this one and just over a dozen others at the time) before either hanging it up (Siebenburgen and Fairytale Abuse) or heading on to greener pastures. To this day, this album is generally either forgotten, or given a passing glance before being dismissed as a derivative Edguy clone, which is less than what it deserves given that it comes fairly close to rivaling the last moment of utter glory that Edguy actually accomplished on Mandrake years back. Granted, it is clearly fodder for those who want to reminisce on the glorious days of Theater Of Salvation and Visions, but those are the sort of "member berries" that power metal needs more of these days.

"Why yes, we do have a naked girl on the cover." - 78%

Empyreal, July 31st, 2009

I mean seriously, could it get any more obvious what this band was trying to do? If you thought Pagan's Mind were just trying to grab the attention of horny teenagers with God's Equation, just get a load of this. They don't even try to do anything with her; she's just standing there in full frontal view on the cover, completely naked and looking about seventeen years old. I think there are some questions here that need to be answered (like, do this girl's parents know what she was doing instead of working at Subway like she does every other day?). But anyway, yeah, this is Saidian's Evercircle.

The basic formula here is a rather Edguyish blend of saccharine Power Metal and synth-heavy hard rock music, making for an attitude-filled and lighthearted romp through a gallery of shimmering hooks and speedy double bass runs. The vocalist is really good, with a melodic voice and a lot of range to boot, and his vocal lines are just superb, with excellently written choruses on every song on this thing. These choruses are so catchy that it seems like they were just written for the sole purpose of NEVER coming out of your head. I have to say, guys, between this and the cover, you're positively desperate for attention!

The music on here is kind of generic, but it's carried out with a lot of energy, so usually it doesn't matter that much. The production is great, with a really full, melodic and clear sound that adds a lot to the music, especially the keyboard sound - it's just great. The songs are a mixed bag, mostly being in the upper mid-paced range of tempo, with some that aren't as good as the others. Opener "Out of the Shadows" has an excellent chorus, but the rest of the song is only decent, and the Tokyo cover "Tokyo" is alright, too, but the real gems come later on: "Solomon's Dance," the poignant "Once In My Dreams," the kickass "Pale Moon Rider," the epic and kingly "Moonlight's Calling" and especially the hard rocking closer "Halos for Everyone," which is damn near worth the price of this whole album with its electric hook sensibility and perhaps the best vocal performance on the album.

There are a few songs here like "Sign in the Sky" and especially the dull "The Princess" that aren't as good, but really, when these guys are on, they're really on, and if they could write a whole album of songs as good as "Pale Moon Rider" and "Halos for Everyone," we'd be talking about a contender for Power Metal album of the year. Maybe next time, but Saidian's Evercircle is still a worthy purchase for the fiends of shameless melody and cheese amongst you. And that's no lie.

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