Circle II Circle

Consequence of Power

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Ex-Savatage vocalist Zachary Stevens has been leading this power metal group since 2001; the music isn't that much different from his former act, and his vocals have as much impact and melody as ever. Though the lyrics are clearly enunciated, they're totally dispensable. There's only one reason to listen to power metal, and that's to let the thundering drums and soaring guitars sweep you along like a kayak caught in a raging flood. When the band slows down somewhat, as on the heavy, bluesy "Out of Nowhere," the bone-crunching impact of the riffs remains. Guitarist Andy Lee is a shredder with genuine soul and emotional feeling to back up his technical mastery, something that's all too rare. Bassist Paul Michael Stewart and new drummer Johnny Osborn are a focused rhythm section that knows how to let the music breathe, ably demonstrated on the midtempo, grinding groove of "Remember." On "Symptoms of Fate," the entire band works together on a slow-burning anthem more reminiscent of Living Colour than DragonForce. On Consequence of Power, Circle II Circle proves over and over again that power metal doesn't have to be alienating and wanky, over-the-top absurd, or dependent on flashy solos in place of meaningful expression; it can be melodic hard rock played with talent and both instrumental and compositional skill.

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