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Frontline - 2006 Circles



ARTIST: Frontline
ALBUM: Circles
LABEL: AOR Heaven
SERIAL: AORH00023
YEAR: 2006

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Stephan Kammerer - vocals * Robby Boebel - guitars * Thomas 'Hutch' Bauer - bass * Rami Ali - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 No One * 02 I Give You The Rest * 03 Save Me * 04 Did You Ever (Taste The Pain) * 05 Say, What Have You To Say * 06 Don't Run Away * 07 Hunter * 08 Into Deep * 09 Is It You * 10 My Vision

RATING:


Background
German melodic rockers Frontline return after two years with their 2006 effort 'Circles'. Under normal circumstances I would have no hesitation in declaring this band a personal favourite of mine, with their 1997 album 'Heroes' a stand-out disc for me. Since then though, the band have (for me) failed to capture the magic of those earlier years, and with this new album, it seems the album-title is very well-named. The band, to me, are indeed 'walking in circles'. What do I mean by that? Well, they haven't really captured the imagination like they previously did, the music and arrangements passing over my head in ho-hum fashion. It's well produced and played and everything, but really, this is so formulaic, it could be a musical jigsaw that could be slapped together in double-quick time. A shame, but true.


The Songs
Starting out with 'No One', this track has a dark and harsh edge, it's moody and psychological, a tale of solitude. 'I Give You The Rest' continues the dark slightly downtuned approach. Still very melodic though. Kammerer's vocals are overamped on the chorus, which is not good. 'Save Me' is next, well.. it was too hard to like this track, such a messy and dense arrangement, it needed to be more spatial, but I guess you can boil this down to Boebel's way of arranging. Frontline vaguely return to the splendor of 'Heroes' with 'Did You Ever (Taste The Pain)', again the dense arrangement is there, but is complimented by one of Boebel's ever-tasty solos which cuts a swathe. 'Say, What Have You To Say' is a faster-paced streamlined tune, while 'Don't Run Away' has a chorus which could be AOR but the song itself is ordinary, even by their own standards. Frontline prove that they can deliver on their earlier promise with a batch of very good songs toward the end of the album. 'Hunter' is a brooding example of power melodic rock (if there is such a phrase), it's followed by the soaring and atmospheric 'Into Deep', and is probably one of the better songs on the album. Meanwhile 'Is It You' is a reminder of the Frontline that we knew and loved so well. A tremendous song that stands head and tails above everything else here. The closer 'My Vision' is a melodic but modern rock outpouring, which is probably an indicator of their future direction, and unlike any of the previous moments that took this band to the top of my favourites list.


In Summary
Mostly, much of 'Circles' is a 'hard' listen. It is their first album which has not grabbed me in any shape. Perhaps it is a sign of the times? Frontline need to go back to the drawing board rather than continuing to put out stuff like this. The songs are not quite there for a majority of the time, but when they do get it right ('Is It You' in particular), the band are untouchable! Frontline have developed to a point where they are close to sounding indistinguishable from many other acts out there today. I said close, but not quite yet. Kammerer to my way of listening, is sounding less like Steve Perry while the class of Boebel gives me hope that Frontline may yet return to former glories. But it won't be on the back of this album unfortunately.


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