Zachary Stevens has truly made something special with CIRCLE II CIRCLE. After two beautifully melodic and passionate albums in "Watching in Silence" and "The Middle of Nowhere", the gifted vocalist and songwriter has created his masterwork with "Burden of Truth". Stevens' concept album is inspired by "The Da Vinci Code" (Dan Brown) and "Holy Blood Holy Grail" (Michael Baigent, Richard Leight, and Henry Lincoln). A challenging endeavor to be sure and the music is even better. These are songs you feel right down to the soul and every one is a diamond.Melody is key and Stevens, along with guitarists Andy Lee and Evan Christopher, bassist Mitch Steward, and drummer Tom Drennan deliver it in a way that sticks with you from song one to song eleven. It is an album in which you can pick any cut and rave about Stevens' soaring vocals and the band's heartfelt performance. The chorus from first single, "Revelations", is classic Stevens. You can just feel the explosive chorus coming and when it does the result is pure bliss, and yet it is merely one of many. The tune also features some muscled sections of double bass drum and guitar syncopation. I do wish the guitars would have been mixed higher and Stevens' vocals taken down a hair. There is some stout riffing and hot soloing going on here, and the songs would have benefited by bringing the former out more. Said riffing and soloing is heard resoundingly on songs like "A Matter of Time", "Heal You", and "Evermore", all of which further exemplify the band's consistently strong and hook-filled songwriting. Touches of keyboards and acoustic guitar are heard on "A Matter of Time", as well as "Your Reality" and "Live as One". The title track ends with a wholly appropriate section of multi-part vocal harmonizing. Aside from the aforementioned (very) minor sound mix complaint, I cannot find a damn thing wrong with this album. "Burden of Truth" deserves to be heard by far more people than will probably ever get a chance to check it out. It is one of the better melodic hard rock/metal albums of 2006.
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