Thursday, April 28

Circle of Silence - "The Blackened Halo"

Circle of Silence
The Blackened Halo


Primal Fear fans rejoice! With their third album, "The Blackened Halo," German metalheads Circle of Silence have given fans a nice heavy slab of aggressive power metal, featuring plenty of memorable moments and powerful riffage (I'm pretty sure that's not a word, but I'm using it anyway - but I digress). They don't introduce anything new to the genre, but this is inconsequential. While there is something to be said for innovation, there is also something to be said for doing something because it worked before. As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and these are the words that Circle of Silence, like their aforementioned countrymen, live by.

Stylistically, the material here is a mixture of power, thrash, and traditional metal, with the emphasis on power metal. The songwriting is relatively concise, with only two songs topping the five-minute mark. This suits Circle of Silence's aggressive style quite well, as no song overstays its welcome, and every song leaves the listener wanting more. That is not to say that the songs sound incomplete; rather, they communicate what they need to communicate, and then end with little messing around. The vocals of singer Niklas Keim should also be noted here; his voice lower-pitched and less melodic than that of most power metal singers, but very powerful, and they lend a bit of a unique feel to the album.

While I find that most metal albums are best appreciated as single entities (with songs serving as "chapters," more or less), "The Blackened Halo" is certainly a song-based album, and I shall review it as such. All of the songs are pretty standard-sounding metal songs, but none are noticeably weak, and there are several that stand out as excellent. The furious opener "Synthetic Sleep" features some some really jagged-edged riffing contrasted with more melodic parts, as well as a number of simple but convincing guitar leads. "Take Your Life" and the closer "Until the Worlds Collide" (which begins with a deceptively soft piano intro before the riff bursts in), add an intriguing bit of Gothenburg-style guitar riffing to the mix. Perhaps my favorite, though, is "21 Grams," and I could go into this for a while, but I'll just say that it's a very well-written song, effectively building tension throughout the verses and releasing it through the incredibly powerful chorus, which is certainly one of the highlights of the album.

If there is one problem with "The Blackened Halo," it is that the material here is fairly unoriginal. This is not necessarily a problem; there are many great albums that are just as derivative. The songs mentioned above are all great examples of a band taking a good formula and perfecting it, and for the most part, the other songs are very well-done as well. However, there is little variation from song to song, and after a while, the material begins to blend together, reducing some of the overall impact of the individual songs. This is not to say that the album is poorly put-together, but it could use a little more variation in the songwriting.

All told, "The Blackened Halo" is a solid album, with good songs and powerful riffs. It doesn't pretend to innovate in any way, but for what it is, it is very well done. Despite a lack of variety in the songwriting, it manages to maintain a consistently high standard from song to song, and I look forward to hearing more from Circle of Silence.

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Morpheus's Rating: 3.0/5

1 comment:

The Protagonist said...

Great review and very cool sounding aggressive power metal. Seems I need to give this one a listen right away myself!