After the last CD by Planet Verge, Fixer’s “Bend”, I was really expecting a lot from 9 Circles. Perhaps I had set too high of expectations for this act, as I can honestly say I was underwhelmed by 9 Circles. I see them to be musically similar to Lifted, but not as plastic as the aforementioned band. While both bands use the modern-rock formula to get where they want to go, “Get Up” as well as some of the other tracks on the disc have some human emotion to them. Each track is crafted specifically to be put on the radio, but the ascent is not quite as easy for the band – while they may sound similar to Blessid Union of Souls, they seem to be actually working, instead of just putting an ultra-glossy disc in front of me. Not every single riff and beat sounds the same – I can literally hear the bass putter through a track like “One More Chance”.
Taking direct vocal cues from a number of bands, such as the aforementioned Blessid Union of Souls (One More Chance), Cory really sounds as if ey is a fan of Audio Adrenaline in (If Only You). Being influenced is not necessarily a bad thing, but my advice would be to try to establish one specific voice for all seasons, instead of pulling one way on one track and going almost diametrically opposite on another. Overall, 9 Circles sounds pretty solid with the brand of music they put out, but I really don’t see much in the way of innovation coming from 9 Circles. That’s not to say that the songs are uninspired or boring, especially with the memorable “TV Song”. “TV Song” is definitely the high water mark on the disc, totally radio-friendly, and preferable to anything that is being currently played on the radio.
The CD ends pretty sedately, with “Tomorrow Never Come”, and the slightly more uptempo “The Sky Fell” . Both tracks are more of the same modern rock, and really show the versatility of the band. From Audio Adrenaline to Gary Charone-era Van Halen to Creed, 9 Circles is comfortable playing with a paradigm and not becoming totally complacent. While I don’t see the band as necessarily inventers of a new style, I can definitely see them roaming the East Coast until the time comes when a major label picks them up.
Rating : 5.5/10
Top Track : TV Song
9 Circles – Advance Tracks / 2003 Planet Verge / 6 Tracks / http://www.9circles.org / http://www.planetverge.com / Reviewed 20 January 2004