Circle II Circle

Watching in Silence

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Circle II Circle marks the recording return of former Savatage vocalist Zachary Stevens after a few years of silence. But though this band is very much Stevens' personal vehicle, the bulk of 2003's Watching in Silence's debut was written with the help of his old Savatage cronies Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery, and it is therefore no surprise that both groups tread quite similar paths. If anything, Circle II Circle comes across a tad less 'metallic' and closer to the melodic hard rock (think AOR) that was so popular in the early '80s. As such, cuts like "Out of Reach" and "Lies" offer plenty of heavy riffing bombaster, while on the flip side, power ballads such as "Walls," and especially the title track, wouldn't seem out of place on any classic rock station; but 20 years ago. Rounding out the disc's standouts, "Face to Face" is pure AOR; its bountiful piano chords border on the grandeur of Styx; and the powerful "Forgiven" finds Stevens in a duet with his mentor, Oliva. In short, Watching in Silence is a strong, if unspectacular, debut album from this crew of seasoned pros.

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