Vicious Circle - Vicious Circle

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Nightmare Records
Catalog Number: NMR-99832
Format: CD
Total Time: 51:15:00

With a name like Vicious Circle you might expect punk or thrash, yes? Well, how could you not: there's a band out of British Columbia, Canada by that name, there's a German metal band by that name, an extreme metal band out of southern New Jersey? a punk band in Brisbane, Australia? and in this case, an 80s metal-styled guitarist/multi-instrumentalist by the name of Steve Cichon using that name. Just so you aren't confused, this review is of the Cichon project Vicious Circle, and the 2002 release Vicious Circle, released by the Lance King headed label Nightmare Records.

Cichon rocks hard on this 12 track release, but I really find myself wishing he hadn't chosen to cover everything in fuzzy distortion, giving him the benefit of the doubt that it's just really bad production. Sure, it might obscure the fact that drums maybe programmed or something, but it just sounds? well, it does give it a live and raw feel, but leaving one wanting better production. Frankly, it's hard to listen to, straining the ear. Clear sound would have brought so much more to it.

What you get is pretty much basic guitar rock that doesn't really distinguish itself from the hundreds of other basic guitar rock releases out there. If you can't get enough of the stuff, then Vicious Circle is another one to add to your collection, but in the end, it's rather dull. Oh, Cichon sings and plays guitar well enough ? and the latter more than well enough, many pieces a launching point for his pyrotechnic playing. But it's not enough to carry the album into the hearts and minds of listeners. Cichon is not a stellar lyricist either, his writing too direct and generic, following a predictable pattern. The exception is the acoustic based "Whatever You Do," which hits the mark simply because it is direct, combining sparse lyrics with a warm, heart felt feeling. There's no syrupy sentiment, but a matter of factness that, in its simplicity, is refreshing. Especially since many of the songs concern themselves with the "tired" (or "tried" and true) topics of dysfunctional relationships - not quite a misogynist view, but sometimes a shade or two close to being so ? and life's failed expectations and disappointments.

I'll grant Cichon does vary from the formula on a couple of occasions, but not for the better. Some pieces are a little too moody for their own good such as "No Man's Land," which is a little more weighty than some of the other tracks (excepting "Whatever?"), but it's also weighed down by it's moodiness ? loose and watery bass line. Unfortunately, lyrically, it seems about 20 years out of date. I mean, there's a reference to wasting time at the mall ? which seems so 80s now. Girls still hang out at the mall, I suppose, but guys are more likely found in front of their computers playing video games. Though the line "What do you do when you go out to dine?/I bet you eat it all" is timely, given the widening girth of the average American (though I'm not one to talk).

Watery also describes the balladic "Peace Lady" - though at first I thought he was singing in the chorus "like some kind of bee-sting" which didn't make much sense (he sings, "some kind of peace lady"). That wateriness comes from the muddy keyboards, which I don't much care for. By the way, to my ears, if you speed the song up a bit, you get the earlier track "Never Run Away" with different lyrics and no muddy-water keyboards

Potential is hinted at with "Rocks That Make Mountain" which tries to be a call to action ? to make the world a better, peaceful place - but it falls far short, not going beyond stating the obvious? there's nothing really to rally around. Nevermind lyrically, there's just nothing to hang onto with the track instrumentally, leaving you with a feeling of, "yeh, okay?next?" One wants the kind of drive and passion of, say, Bruce Springsteen. Of course, one doesn't also want a feel good, mealy-mouthed, wimpy "can't we all get along" kind of song either? This simply falls flat.

In short, the music is just there, leaving nothing rattling round in the head (except for that "peace lady" chorus). Stronger material, cleaner production? maybe a full band setting, would go along way. Better than mediocre because he can sing well and play guitar very well, but that leaves us with average.

The Winner / In Your Hands / Never Run Away / Hanging By A Thread / Hallucinations / Rocks That Make The Mountain / Peace Lady / No Mans Land / Every Dog / Gun To The Head / Whatever You Do / Vicious Circle

Steve Cichon ? guitar, etc.

Vicious Circle (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: March 28th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 782
Language: english


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