"Full Circle"

(Eleven Seven)

01. Full Circle
02. Enemy
03. Shame
04. Reborn
05. Reason I'm Alive
06. Soldiers
07. Paralyzed
08. Upside Down
09. 37 Stitches
10. No More
11. Love X2
12. Duet
13. Rebel Yell

RATING: 4/10

It is difficult not to feel for a band that lost a member in Dave Williams so tragically, especially after such a rapid ascendancy to the top of the modern hard rock world with "Sinner". Replacing a singer with Williams' all-around presence is a near impossibility and though I've not heard sophomore effort "Desensitized", I can only image that it is as much an exercise in mediocrity as new album "Full Circle" (more about that shortly). The fact of the matter is I that I found "Sinner" to be a fun, high-energy album and count "Bodies" as one of my guilty pleasures. But since that time, I've paid not one iota of attention to DROWNING POOL until receiving my promotional copy of "Full Circle". Now with the group's third singer, Ryan McCombs (ex-SOIL), an attempt has been made to sell the disc as the return to form fans have been waiting for since "Sinner". Don't believe it.

Taken as whole, "Full Circle" is nothing more than a middling modern hard rock album, albeit one that may appeal to fans of hard rock blandness. On the almost-upside, a handful of songs "Enemy", "Shame", and "Reborn" (featuring a relatively effective incorporation of acoustic soul), and the groove-heavy "Reason I'm Alive" (written by MÖTLEY CRÜE's Nikki Sixx), which mixes the light with the heavy to decent effect, are more than tolerable. The title track is OK too. What that all really means though is that you wouldn't walk out of a bar if you heard a band playing the tunes, ones that fall into that take-it-or-leave-it category that don't suck, but won't leave your head spinning. And that's it. Incidentally, if you're looking for those distinctive "Sinner" guitar tones", you'll be spending more time searching than listening, as with the exception of bits on songs like "Soldiers", they've been replaced with a generic riff sound.

And yes, "Soldiers" is the tune that clearly demonstrates the band's desperation in finding a hit that would have the same impact as "Bodies". The vocal cadence on the chorus (the stomp rhythm and quick vocal bursts, etc) may in fact get the tune some radio play, but a blockbuster it is not. The sentiment expressed by the band toward U.S. troops overseas is certainly commendable, but does little to make the song more appealing.

By this point in the album, you're ready to move on. The quartet mixes up the arrangements on the latter half by incorporating more been-there-done-that light picking moments that burst into heavier radio-friendly rock on a couple of tracks, namely "Paralyzed" and "37 Stitches". The former, which is a fairly catchy track, is destined to be in heavy rotation in strip clubs across the U.S. (listen to it, you'll hear what I mean). Other than scoring a point or two for rhythmic toughness on "Duet", there just isn't much that is worth caring about. Oh yeah, the cover of BILLY IDOL's "Rebel Yell". It was a bad idea, and I'll leave it at that.

Am I being too harsh? Perhaps, but I think I know a good hard rock when I hear it (BRAND NEW SIN's "Tequila" anyone?). In all fairness only a couple of tunes outright suck. A handful of the tracks are not too shabby, and the rest are bearable, but forgettable. Ain't no bodies gonna be hittin' the floor with this album, that's for sure.


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