I was a big fan of ex-SAVATAGE bellower Zak Stevens first CIRCLE II CIRLCE album ‘’Watching In Silence’’. I am therefore extremely pleased to announce that this, the bands sophomore release is every bit as good and at times better than the debut offering.
Now complete with an entire new band save for Stevens on vocals this new incarnation sees Stevens move away from the direct influences SAVATAGE sounds of the debut and instead approach a harder edge more Melodic Metal stance with a nod to Progressive Metal along the way. However some customary SAVATAGE elements are still rolled out throughout proceedings to give ‘’The Middle Of Nowhere’’ a distinct original air.
Although ‘’The Middle Of Nowhere’’ is not an instant hit on first listen it does tend to imbed itself in the dark recesses of your mind and then explode in wave after wave of Metallic fury after repeated listens. It’s refreshing to hear the likes of ‘’All That Remains’’ and ‘’Open Season’’ unleashed in all their Heavy Metal glories. More than capable support comes in the form of the VAN HALEN/SAVATAGE riffery throughout the excellent ‘’Hollow’’. Meanwhile ‘’Faces In The Dark’’ is a classic Melodic Metal monster resplendent with superb chorus. ‘’Psycho Motor’’ has a latter day MEGADETH feel to it as it pumps along flexing muscle. The title track is perhaps the only real SAVATAGE song to be found and not forgetting the obligatory ballad ‘’Lost’’ giving Stevens the chance to show a lighter side to his unique voice after all the Metal.
Musically ‘’The Middle Of Nowhere’’ is a big step forward for CIRCLE II CIRCLE. Although not abandoning the entire SAVATAGE influence, again the majority of the songs are collaboration between Jon Oliva, Chris Caffery and Stevens, the hiring of a new a band has let Stevens at least show that he is more than just the ex-singer of SAVATAGE and can easily survive on his own. So often the crux of a bands career album number two from CIRCLE II CIRCLE could well be a definitive move onto bigger and better things. (Online July 4, 2005)