CIRCLE II CIRCLE – Burden Of Truth

CIRCLE II CIRCLE - Burden Of Truth


AFM/Locomotive Records
Release date: October 10, 2006

User Review
8.5/10 (1 vote)

Circle II Circle is, of course, the band featuring ex-Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens. Three years ago saw the release of Watching In Silence. It was a fantastic debut, so strong it actually rivaled, even surpassed, the majority of Savatage material post- Edge Of Thorns. It was also quite similar musically to 90’s Savatage; Symphonic, but also with a bit of a Rockier edge.

Although The Middle Of Nowhere, the crucial follow-up to the critically acclaimed and successful debut, was a good record, it was not really up to par comparably. On the other hand, of course, the band had already set the bar high. Since then, the Rockier, guitar-driven side of things has taken over gradually, a tendency that continues on this, Circle II Circle’s third release. The grandiose approach is likewise continued on Burden Of Truth.

It’s a concept album based on The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Holy Blood Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leight, and Henry Lincoln. According to the press release, both novels theorize that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene, and their children prospered in France, and the discovery that they are direct descendants of Jesus. In fact, the album’s release date is the 699th anniversary of the day in 1307 when members of The Knights Templar were arrested and banished in France for espousing such beliefs.

So, is Burden Of Truth a step up with a stronger set of material? The answer is “yes,” but then again, “no.” Whereas Burden Of Truth, in the broader scheme, seems a more cohesive body of work than its predecessor, it doesn’t have stronger actual individual songs than The Middle Of Nowhere, and, although its a strong album that works immensely well as a unit, many of the songs, despite having catchy choruses and excellent structures, seem strangely forgettable. It’s a case of “in one ear – out the other” on several numbers, despite numerous listens. The song identities tend to mend together and it’s hard to tell some of them apart. Seeing as this is a concept piece, maybe this direction was purposeful, as concept albums tend to have recurring musical themes. However, that does not seem to be the intent, and as The Middle Of Nowhere already started similar tendencies … maybe it’s a growing problem for Circle II Circle, which in that case is worrying.

Like on both its predecessors, Burden Of Truth starts with a semi-quiet track – “Who Am I To Be.” “Your Reality,” has that warm, cozy factor that was often a part of Savatage. “The Black” starts off directly with the heavy chorus before setting into a quieter verse. The song has a slight Bluesy feel, while “Revelations” is one of the harder tracks.

“Sentenced,” despite its title, is a musically uplifting affair, but then again that is quite common with Circle II Circle. “Heal You” is a particularly great track, it has that typical lush atmosphere aplenty, which has become an integral part of the band’s style, and Steven’s vocals are as powerful as ever. “Messiah” is one of the most riff-driven songs so far in Circle II Circle’s career. The ending track, “Live As One,” features plenty of piano and Savatage-like rhythms; it could almost be seen as an ode, musically speaking of course, to said band.

On the whole, though, Savatage similarities are less, but the music remains quite dramatic. Stevens’s delivery seems more powerful in Circle II Circle, as he does not hold back as much -– in fact, rather the opposite, while his majestic melodic approach is instantly recognizable and further perfected. As said, what’s striking is that since the debut, a sizable amount of the material has become surprisingly similar in direction. The music is incredibly powerful, yet individual songs that actually stand out are less. But, that said, although Watching In Silence so far remains the group’s strongest effort, Burden of Truth is yet another fine (although at times somewhat bland) piece of work for fans of the band’s Melodic, dramatic Metal.


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