Returning to the realm of majestic heavy music after a three-year hiatus, former SAVATAGE vocalist and Tampa native Zak Stevens is prepared to unleash the debut album, "Watching In Silence", of his new band CIRCLE II CIRCLE through AFM Records (distributed in North America through The End Records) on July 8. "Watching In Silence" represents the culmination of passion & fury that defines Zak's style.
Joining Zak on this exploration into visceral melody are guitarists Matt LaPorte (who auditioned for SAVATAGE for "Dead Winter Dead", but lost out to Al Pitrelli) and Shane French, drummer Christopher Kinder, bassist Kevin Rothney, and keyboardist John Zahner. Many of the tracks on "Watching In Silence" were co-composed by Zak with the assistance of legendary SAVATAGE vocalist/keyboardist Jon Oliva and SAVATAGE guitarist Chris Caffery. Zak explains the concept, "I wanted to explain what we're all about with it. It's important, because we're part of the old tree the old circle was my beginning with SAVATAGE, and now I have this new 'circle' of friends. The fact that I'm writing with Jon & Chris for this record links the old circle with the new one."
Although, the relative SAVATAGE comparisons are inevitable, Stevens is confident that CIRCLE II CIRCLE breathes on its own. "Watching In Silence" is both stirring and forceful, with equal amounts of modern metal belligerence & Zak's trademark fiery passion. "Going in to this record, I knew from the beginning that there are going to be people that say 'Hey, that sounds like SAVATAGE'. Well of course it's going to sound like SAVATAGE, I'd been with the band for almost a decade. There's no way around it. I wanted to write the kind of songs that I enjoy doing, so a lot of it is in a similar style to SAVATAGE. I said from the start, 'don't worry about comparisons we're going to get them anyway. Don't let that stop us from making the best music we can and writing the songs that we love to play.' Moving forward, our evolution will definitely move away from that."
"Watching In Silence" was recorded at the renowned Morrisound Studios in Tampa under the guidance of Jim Morris, who previously worked with Zak on SAVATAGE's successful "Edge Of Thorns" and "Handful of Rain" releases. Zak enthuses about the reunion, "Getting that team, with Jim Morris, back in there was great. Jim was like, 'man, we've been waiting for like 6 years to do another record with you! Let's do it!' It was really wild." The band's label, AFM Records, is beginning to make waves around the world, having signed bands based on quality of work. The roster currently consists of acts like EDGUY, ANNIHILATOR, AT VANCE, MASTERPLAN, and others.
CIRCLE II CIRCLE has a number of live performances lined up for the next few months, both in America and abroad, proving early on that the sky is the limit for this young & hungry band. Fans can expect the band to intertwine the crushing new material along with Zak-era SAVATAGE favorites. On August 31, they will headline the Tampa Metal Festival, and on September 6, they will perform at the sold-out Prog Power IV Festival in Atlanta (alongside such acts as NIGHTWISH, RAGE, SYMPHONY X, EVERGREY, and others)
Performance schedule includes (also see tour dates section):
Jul. 26 - St. Petersburg, FL @ Boomer's
Jul. 31 - Wacken, GER @ Wacken Open Air Festival
Aug. 01 - Zaandam, NETH @ DeKade
Aug. 02 - Pratteln, SWI @ Metal Dayz
Aug. 03 - Budapest, HUN @ Sziget Festival
Aug. 08 - Tampa/Ybor City, FL @ Orpheum
Aug. 31 - Tampa, FL @ Tampa Metal Fest
Sep. 06 - Atlanta, GA @ Prog Power IV Festival
In addition, CIRCLE II CIRCLE will participate in the Criss Oliva memorial event at the Green Parrot in Largo, Florida on October 17. Criss Oliva was the influential guitarist of SAVATAGE who was tragically killed by a drunk driver in 1993. Zak had worked with Criss on "Edge Of Thorns". At the event, CIRCLE II CIRCLE will perform a set, then Zak, Matt LaPorte and Jon Oliva are anticipated to perform a short acoustic set, honoring Criss' legacy.