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Ninth Circle - Echo Black

Ninth Circle
Echo Black
by Emily Schneider at 13 July 2020, 6:33 PM

NINTH CIRCLE hails from Los Angeles, California and their aim is to bring melody back into Metal. Their 4th studio album “Echo Black” is certainly Melodic, but the Metal aspect is medium to mild. Melodic Rock has a separate audience that would likely take to this album better than I did; read on for why I was left underwhelmed by this album.

“Dance of Swords” is solid opening track. Not much to highlight, but it had some Pure Metal portions that were well done. “The Angel's Share” and “Forever More” are just a couple of the songs that were rather unremarkable. The songs weren't bad necessarily, but didn't have much that stood out. It was just run of the mill Heavy Metal. “Echo Black”  had a really enticing intro, then kind of fell back into the humdrum. “Tokyo Nights” along with closing track “When the Sun Goes Down” flip the switch to 80s Radio Rock vibes. Both sound like something by BOSTON, which was a bit jarring of a genre change from some of the other tracks.

“Prelude to Glory” was the first song on the album to go all out with the guitar solo so far on the album. Definitely had that Pure 80s Heavy Metal feel I'd been listening for. “Shadow of Giants” reminded me a lot of the BON JOVI song 'Wanted Dead or Alive' from the really similar melody plus the acoustic guitar bit enhanced that impression.  “Riding the Storm” has a title that you'd expect something really epic, but instead, the storm was more like cloud cover and a couple of wind gusts. “Then & There” reminded of 'Jessie's Girl' by Rick Springfield with the melody, once again. I'm unsure if it was an attempt to pay homage that went to nearly copying territory. The bonus track “Warrior” featured the great Todd Michael Hall from RIOT V on vocals and well… it was the best song on the album. It had the 'hold up the horns' rock out feel I was hoping for. It's a shame the entire album wasn't like this bonus track!

All and all, this album was rather dull. The musicians play well enough, there wasn't necessarily anything wrong with this album. It just felt so safe. There wasn't anything about this album that stood out or lingered even between one song and the next. The genre hopping with different songs was not cohesive. It instead made the album almost jarring to listen to straight through.  Another thing was the uncanny 'homage' paid to a few musicians that wound up sounding almost identical to the artist they were aiming to sound like. Thinking that falls in with the 'just playing the music, nothing to see here' vibe this album seems to have. It's a bummer when music lacks emotion, it makes it hard to connect to the sounds you're hearing and you just find yourself getting bored. Overall, this album is just plain fine.

Songwriting: 5
Musicianship: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Dance Of Swords
2. The Angel's Share
3. Echo Black
4. Forever More
5. Tokyo Nights
6. Prelude To Glory
7. Shadow Of Giants
8. Return Of The King
9. Riding The Storm
10. Then & There
11. Natural High
12. When The Sun Goes Down
13. Warrior (Bonustrack)
Lineup:
Dennis Brown – vocals, guitars
Frank Forray - bass
Richie “Captain Black” Brooks - drums
Record Label: Pure Underground Records
     


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