"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Circle II Circle - "Full Circle - The Best Of" (2-CD Set)

Circle II Circle - "Full Circle - The Best Of" 2-CD Set cover image

"Full Circle - The Best Of" track listing:

CD1
1. All That Remains
2. Who Am I To Be
3. Consequence Of Power
4. Watching In Silence
5. Dead Of Dawn
6. Into The Wind
7. In This Life
8. Out Of Nowhere
9. Revelations
10. Blood Of An Angel
11. Heal You
12. Open Season
13. Echoes
14. Out Of Reach
15. Forgiven
16. Redemption

CD 2
1. Every Last Thing (Edit)
2. The Circle
3. Sentenced
4. Take Back Yesterday
5. The Middle Of Nowhere
6. Soul Breaker
7. Darkness Rising
8. Into The Wind (Acoustic)
9. Shadows
10. Symptoms Of Fate
11. Stay
12. Watching In Silence (Live)
13. Burden Of Truth (Acoustically Enhanced)
14. Against The World
15. Evermore (Live)
16. Strung Out

Reviewed by on August 28, 2012

"There's no doubt that Circle II Circle's 'Full Circle - The Best Of' has plenty of good-to-great songs. There's also no doubt that had the tracklist been whittled down from 32 tracks to a more manageable 16 or so, this collection would be a must-have."

It's hard to come up with a double album — even one that's a greatest hits collection — that doesn't feel bloated or indulgent. There's no doubt that Circle II Circle's "Full Circle - The Best Of" has plenty of good-to-great songs. There's also no doubt that had the tracklist been whittled down from 32 tracks to a more manageable 16 or so, this collection would be a must-have. As it is, there is plenty of excellent playing sprinkled throughout, but also a more-than-fair amount of filler.

On the plus side, ex-Savatage singer Zak Stevens, the only constant member of the band since it formed in 2001, delivers some potent vocals on tracks like the superbly thrashy "All That Remains," which opens this collection. He's also quite excellent on "Open Season," "Soul Breaker" and the acoustic version "Into The Wind," which has a definite Queensryche feel to it (and is much better than the "normal" version on the first disc). Stevens' talent for balladry is on full display on the lush "In This Life," which transforms into something much more aggressive later on.

The guitar work is excellent throughout, with some excellent riffs on the aforementioned "All That Remains," as well as "Every Last Thing" and a few other tracks. The solos are your typical mind-blowing power metal stuff, though blistering runs on "Heal You" and the groovy "The Circle" flirt with something more soulful.

The problem is that this collection is also packed with plenty of filler. By the time "Echoes" rolls around, it's feeling a bit like one piano ballad too many — and there's still a whole 'nother disc to go. By the time the live tracks come along to add a bit of energy on disc two, even the most ardent fan's attention has likely begun to wander a little.

Also, it's worth noting that the production often feels quite a bit flat, with tracks like "Revelations" having an almost "Death Magnetic" level of compression. That has the effect of robbing the drums and bass — which are quite excellent elsewhere — of much of their power.

Sure, Circle II Circle's "Full Circle - The Best Of" could've used some editing — to the point where half of the tracks could've been dropped. Still, it's got plenty of great singing from frontman Zak Stevens, and great instrumental work (even if it's sometimes compromised by poor production choices) by some amazing sidemen.

Highs: "All That Remains," "Open Season" and the acoustic "Into The Wind."

Lows: Plenty of average-to-decent filler tracks surrounding the good stuff.

Bottom line: Plenty of great guitar and vocals, but also a lot of filler on this greatest hits set.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)