CIRCLE II CIRCLE – Full Circle : The Very Best

AFM 2012

Now here’s a band that I am aware of but never actually listened to which is surprising since I was a fan of the Zak Stevens fronted version of Savatage. The very same Zak Stevens left Savatage in back in 2000 for family reasons and formed Circle II Circle in the winter of 2001. Circle II Circle is Zak Steven’s band and has featured a revolving cast of musicians with only bassist Mitch Stewart being an almost ever present.

This is a double CD set featuring a mammoth 32 tracks spanning all of Circle II Circle’s career to date. For the fans disc 2 features several hard to find tracks including Japanese bonus tracks, EP tracks, live numbers and so on.

All 5 studio albums are well represented here with the debut Watching in Silence (2003) and follow up The Middle of Nowhere (2005) featuring the most Savatage-like numbers where the use of keyboards, especially piano, is more pronounced. The following three albums – Burden of Truth (2006), Delusions of Grandeur (2008) and Consequence of Power (2010) feature the more straight ahead metal numbers, think Iron Maiden crossed with mid-period Queensryche…but this is not an exclusive arrangement which makes for a much more interesting listen along with the fact that the tracks are not arranged in album order.

This is overall a thoroughly enjoyable, if a little long, trawl through the best of Circle II Circle before they presumably release a new album in the none too distant future. If you miss Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra project, formed by other ex-members of Savatage, is a little too over-the-top for you then there is much to enjoy in this release.

***3/4

Phil Berisford


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