Giving the finger to basically every musical trend that’s happened over the past two decades, Circle II Circle’s debut release Watching in Silence neither apologizes for nor tries to hide its obvious 80’s metal roots.
Vocalist Zak Stephens picks up exactly where he left off with Savatage three years ago. Stephens vocals are a major factor of the music, with lots of focus placed on his big, multi-layered harmonic choruses. Backing Stephen’s pipes are some very able musicians. While every note on the album is crisp, clear, and precise, nothing really stands out. Despite how professional each riff sounds, I couldn’t hum a single one of them once the disc was over.
Even with Stephen’s vocals in the mix is the piano. Yeah, that’s right. Tracks like “Forgiven” and “Watching in Silence” open with big piano movements before any rock kicks in — and that’s using the term “rock” pretty liberally. The majority of the tracks on Watching in Silence wouldn’t sound out of place on your average light rock radio station.
Other tracks, like “Lies” and “Out of Reach”, do actually get up to speed. However, even full tilt isn’t that aggressive. Stuck in a musical time warp, the heaviest stuff on the disc reminds me of Savatage-lite, or even mid-80’s Whitesnake. The rest of the tracks (like “Walls”) sound like Styx in their piano-heavy years!
Circle II Circle is best on “Circle”, where a fiery solo falls over a chunky riff with poppy drums filling in the holes. Unfortunately the brilliance is over almost as quickly as it appeared, and it’s right back to even more power metal ballads.
Most of Watching in Silence can be described as dreamy, relaxing … and unfortunately, boring. The few shining moments don’t make up for the wait. Maybe best described as “Dream Theater without the double bass, guitar talent, or sheer speed,” Circle II Circle performs exactly like a circle by ending exactly where they began, by taking listeners nowhere during this musical journey.
01. Out Of Reach
02. Sea Of White
03. Into The Wind
04. Watching In Silence
07. Face To Face
09. The Circle