Sammy Hagar / Sammy Hagar & the Circle

Space Between

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Sammy Hagar calls his band -- either his fifth or sixth, depending if HSAS is counted or not -- the Circle because this quartet brings him back to where he started. A look at the band's lineup illustrates why Hagar believes this to be true. Within the Circle, Hagar surrounds himself with some old running mates -- notably, former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony anchors the group, but Waboritas guitarist Vic Johnson also has a prominent place in the band, while drummer Jason Bonham provides a reminder of the Zeppelin influence on Hagar's earliest band, Montrose. Despite being so strongly rooted in the past, the Circle plays for the present, cranking the amps to 11 and pushing Bonham's beat toward the forefront. The heaviness is so bracing that the hooky pair of "Bottom Line" and "No Worries" comes as somewhat of a relief halfway through the album; not only are they more melodic, they are nimble, demonstrating that this group of old pros can keep it light if they so choose. For the rest of The Space Between, they choose heaviosity. It's a forceful, powerful sound that gains a bit of depth thanks to Hagar's inscrutable social commentary -- he's against a spoiled "Trust Fund Baby" and happy to be a "Free Man" -- but for as invigorating as the sheer wallop of the Circle can be, it proves a bit exhausting in the long run.

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