Circle II Circle is a band that I like, but one that has been beyond frustrating to listen to over the years. I'm a big fan of Zak Stevens' voice (how many other people heard the Machines Of Grace album?), but his main outlet is not a bastion of consistency. Their first few records were slow off the blocks, sounding way too much like Savatage rehashed, which was for good reason. It wasn't until "Burden Of Truth" that they got rolling, putting out back to back albums that were great, with the one I mentioned being one of the better traditional/power metal albums of recent times. But then they fell off the map with the limp and boring "Consequence Of Power", before somehow righting the ship with the excellent "Seasons Will Fall", which I still spin frequently.
This album sees their see-saw history return, as it wipes away all of the progress, and puts them firmly back into the morass. Zak is Zak, and his voice still sounds great. But the songs around him are dull, lifeless, and lacking the hooks he usually brings to the table. There are a couple of good songs here, but too much of the album streamlines the band's sound into four minute metal mashers, which is entirely the wrong approach for Circle II Circle. They're at their best when they open up a bit, when they're trying to be more than a head-banging metal band. That doesn't happen often enough here for my liking.
It's not as though this is a terrible record, but I just don't have much to say about it, because it made absolutely no impression on me at all. I'm still going to take note and listen when the next album rolls along, because I still have hope they can produce another "Burden Of Truth" or "Seasons Will Fall". Until then, those albums will have to suffice.