How much more thrashy power metal can the world take? While this question might refer to The Crimson Throne, Germany’s Circle Of Silence‘s fifth album, it is the same question that went through my head when I listened to their label debut The Blackened Halo in 2011. As part of preparing this review, I went back (not in time though) and listened to The Blackened Halo again to see if it could convince me today more than it did back then, which was not at all. And by the God-Emperor, just as seven years ago, I still don’t feel in need of the umpteenth band mixing influences of bands like early Blind Guardian and Helloween, Rage, Accept, Exodus and Kreator because there are so many better alternatives available already. The Crimson Throne really needs to be some damn fine composing to shed a good light on Circle Of Silence in my book.
And to be honest, they are trying. A band can’t do much more to thrill, a word which here means “carry away the listener”, than place one of the album’s fastest and most classic metal songs in the beginning. After the mood-setting, rumbling thunder featuring instrumental opener “Conquer The Throne”, “Race To The Sky” punches you right in the face with its riffage worthy of an Iron Maiden track, some incredibly aggressive gang shouts and a harmonious chorus . Yes, this track is fun, but like I said in the opening – this is nothing special, and other bands have executed it better.
The following “Destroyers Of The Earth” on the other hand shows Circle Of Silence at the top of their game. This is combative thrash power metal close to Kreator levels of pugnacity which perfectly unites the heavier parts like the bone crushing riffs and the dulcet European style power metal chorus. There are few tracks as lively as this one on the album.
One particular issue I have with Circle Of Silence is singer Niklas (Nick) Keim’s vocals. His aggressive, lower register shouts and almost-growls similar to Peavy Wagner of Rage are enjoyable when used correctly, but his clean, higher register singing is less than average and deflates the energy of each song. As soon as he moves to this more melodious voice, he doesn’t hit the notes anymore and his voice turns thin. So, Nick, pick your battles and stick to the aggressive shouting instead of the more melodic power style singing.
The next and biggest issue with The Crimson Throne, just as with all albums by Circle Of Silence and to be fair, close to every other band of the overcrowded genre, is that the songs are so damn repetitive. Listen to one, listen to all. The riffs, fast and energetic as they are, are monotonous across songs and the same is true for the thrilling, a word which here means “exciting to shout along at a live concert”, refrains and the drumming. While this is all performed very workmanlike, that’s just it. Nothing about The Crimson Throne‘s compositions stands out in comparison to the competition of which there is a great deal.
To end on a positive note, Circle Of Silence definitely grew as a band. Most tracks on The Crimson Throne are as amazingly vigorous as the opening song and don’t disappoint if you are looking for a very thrashy power metal album. Despite the cover artwork, Circle Of Silence easily avoid any cheesy airs and graces wich easily afflict power metal musicians and deliver from start to finish a solid and diverting, albeit repetitive album comparable to Mystic Prophecy. If the band tried to think outside the box, I am sure they would be capable to stand out, especially with their routined handicraft.