Circle of Silence – Walk Through Hell Review

Fate and happenstance have conspired against Germany’s Circle of Silence lo these many years. I was scheduled to review both their 2013 outing The Rise of Resistance and 2018s effort The Crimson Throne. In both cases, I was forced to drop them to cover bigger albums and Circle of Silence was silenced. When I saw the promo for fourth album, Walk Through Hell bobbing in the noxious filth of the promo sump, I made a blood oath that no force on Earth or beyond would prevent me from reviewing it. I owed it to them. For those unfamiliar, Circe of Silence play a burly brand of traditional metal with strong similarities to Iced Earth, Brainstorm, and Mystic Prophecy. The promo materials noted that the band had extra time to work on this album due to pandemic lockdowns and they wanted to find a more epic sound. Well boys, mission fucking accomplished! This is both their best effort and one of the best metal albums to hit this year 2022. Put on the war armor and lifting belt, because you’re gonna need them, brother!

After a war banner-raising intro piece titled “Down to Hell,” things get serious fast with “Prisoner of Time.” The best way to describe it is to say it’s the best Iced Earth song in the last 10 years. It’s loaded down with crunchy riffs and commanding, manly vocals, and the chorus is big, bold, and oozing bravado. The band does a lot of C-tuning to give the music extra darkness and weight and everything feels bigger than life. “Walk Through Hell” is equally titanic, delivering a surprisingly uplifting message even as it kicks your ass all over the battlefield with mighty guitar work and heroic vocals. The chorus will stick like a Ka-Bar and I defy you to resist sweeping hand gestures as you blast it. But wait, there’s more! “United” is like the love child resulting from a drunken weekend of swordplay and intensive writing between Manowar and Iced Earth, and the toxic masculinity flows wild and free like moonshine molasses down a mountainside. You’ll get lyrics like “Face me. Come face me! Why do you hide behind the walls?” and I promise you’ll be ready for mano a mano mayhem most magnificent.

 I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what has fast become the front runner for my Song o’ the Year. “I Am Fear” is such a massive slab of traditional metal that no seven men ever born could hope to move it without steam-powered machinery. It reeks of the slick, earwormy writing Brainstorm is known for and leverages their knack for pairing big vocal hooks with heavy riffs. Niklas Keim even seems to adopt Andy B. Franke’s vocal style to an extent to really sell this hot cake. I cannot get enough of this tune and I just keep replaying it. The part where Niklas gravely intones “Look at you, your pain must be severe” just gets me every damn time. Big, big stuff. But there’s more yet! “Triumph Over Tragedy” is quite similar in vibe and style to Judas Priest’s “Rising From Ruin” and works in much the same way. Then there’s the ridiculously overblown lunacy of “I Want More” where the band dunderheadedly explains why they want MOAR of everything. I call it the MOAR song and its central riff is the twin brother to Dream Evil’s “The Book of Heavy Metal.”1  With so much unrestrained winning, would a downside dare appear? Sadly, yes. At a stout, grass-fed 57 minutes, Walk Through Hell has a few songs that while good, just aren’t as massive as the aforementioned gems. Culling two of the least gigungus tracks from the horde would make the album climb precipitously through the rankings. It still plays exceptionally well as a whole, but their wanton quest for MOAR led them slightly astray in the end.

I cannot say enough about the amazing job Tobias Pfahl and Christian Sommerfeld do with their guitar work. There are so many crushing traditional metal riffs, all weighing a fuck-ton, and they pair them perfectly with soaring solos and beautiful harmonies. Every song is a gluttonous smorgasbord of brilliant noodling in the service of elevating quality material. To this glorious background, Niklas Keim brings his best vocal performance to date. His leather-lunged delivery is powerful and rabble-rousing, perfect for the bombastic material the band’s wrought. He reminds me of several vocalists without ever sounding just like anyone. He has the pipes for the job, that’s for sure. In grim news, bassist Björn Boehm passed away last month, which is such a goddamn shame. He, along with drummer Peter Suppinger, lay down a thunderous, powerhouse foundation for the material that gives everything raw mass and impact. It breaks my heart he didn’t get to see this thing released. Rest in peace, Björn.

Walk Through Hell is a traditional metal album everyone can get excited about. It’s heavy enough to shake your foundations and there’s no shortage of massive metal magic flowing from the compositions. There is simply no way this thing doesn’t plop itself into my year-end list and demand adoration, and I will be spinning it til the demon cows come home to roost. Circle of Silence held up their end of the bargain here, and now I can say I did the same. Loudly hear this or die in poser limbo, you dogs!

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: May 27th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. And maybe too closely related, if I’m honest.
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