Zak Stevens is best known for his vocals on several Savatage albums! “Edge of Thorns”, “Handfull of Rain” and “Wake of Magellan” are still absolute crackers! But ten years ago he took me by surprise with the debut album “Watching In Silence” of his own band Circle II Circle. It was packed with emotional songs that grabbed you by the throat. A year later they released “Middle of Nowhere”. Their previous album “Consequence Of Power” was a step into the right direction again. Now three years later they’re back at the front with “Seasons Will Fall”!

Circle II Circle is:

Zak Stevens – vocals
Mitch Stewart – bass
Christian Wentz – guitars
Bill Hudson – guitars
Henning Wanner – keyboards
Adam Sagan – drums


Opener “Diamond Blade” sets the tone with furious riffs and pounding drums. Zak has a warm powerful voice and there isn’t any effect to be heard from father time on his tonsils! Both axe men Christian Wentz and Bill Hudson spice up the sound with several fast paced melodic solos. Some vocal melody lines from “Without A Sound” throws me back in time to the wonderful debut from C2C (which is still my favorite). The multiple use of the piano enhances the sound and brings the mighty Savatage in mind. The bass from Mitch Stewart is all over the place during “Killing Death”. During the middle section where treated with a sensitive and a more flashing guitar solo. My trained sensitive ears detect a rhythm guitar during those solos that resemblance the guitar sound from Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”. The first real cracker of this album is the nine minutes long epic “Epiphany”. The classical piano again brings Savatage in mind. Especially “Gutter Ballet” and “The Edge Of Thorns” pop up in my metal brain. Zak channels a load of dynamically charged emotions with his outstanding vocals. This kind off tracks shows best what C2C really stands for: great compositions with a huge emotional load. Bill and Christian toss out top notch solos in the instrumental break of “End Of Emotions”.

Killer tom bursts open “Dreams That Never Die”. Zak demonstrates his mighty tonsils with a natural ease. The songs shows another trademark of Zak: the multi layered vocal gymnastics (the so called canon vocals). A tradition that founds it’s origin in the classic “Change” from Savatage, where Zak was singing on. The title track has a balladesque intro, but soon Zak takes control with a more aggressive sound, backed up by short tight riffs. The tuning of the guitars on the main riff of “Never Gonna Stop” could have been taken from the “Power Of The Night” album from the Savatage era before Zak was in the band. The almost shredding solo here is pure ear candy! “Isolation” brings some power metal riffs in the picture and the keys from Henning Wanner add additional colors to the already wide pallet. Zak let’s his sensitive side take control on the acoustical beginning of “Sweet Despair”. The chorus calls the electrical guitars back into the ring and then goes seeming less over in a fast shred-like solo. “Downshot” is the shortest track of the album and sounds a bit different. The fact that co-producer Blackwell wrote it could explain this. “Only Yesterday” closes this album in pure beauty. This piano ballad gives Zak the opportunity to shine ones again as the brightest star. Suffice to say that the man delivers the goods!

It’s clear to me that Circle II Circle is back on the right track with this album. I don’t believe the previous ones where bad, but I still had a soft spot for that first album! And now they seem to have incorporated some of that same feel in the sound of the new album. Also the references to the previous band from Zak, Savatage is more than welcome for me! I’m looking forward on hearing some of these tracks live during the following tour! And I can confirm that the band will play in Belgium this time around and guess who will be singing along (euh at least trying to….)

Score: 4,25 out of 5


1. Diamond Blade
2. Without A Sound
3. Killing Death
4. Epiphany
5. End Of Emotion
6. Dreams That Never Die
7. Seasons Will Fall
8. Never Gonna Stop
9. Isolation
10. Sweet Despair
11. Downshot
12. Only Yesterday


Text: Rik Bauters

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