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Saga - Full Circle CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.48 | 138 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Let's go back to the start?

After leaving behind their roots in 1982 with the release of their first non-Chapters album with Heads Or Tails, Saga have finally returned to finish the? saga? some 17 years later! This may come as a shock to many, but after a very bumpy couple of decades the band has taken their classic sound on this album and revamped it. The cover image of the band's old mascot shedding it's skin to reveal a much more sleek and sturdy warrior could not be more true ? and the band will also use this mascot on the cover of all of their Chapters albums from here on in. But trust me, the old Saga sound combined with a more modern production and tone is actually something that they could have gotten away with right off the bat.

Ironically, the band sounds a lot more 'unique' in this era then they did in the past ? bringing them into a second classic era, a second wind that not many bands get in their career. Not to be a pain, but have a look at the ratings on Saga's albums and you'll notice that they spike around the early 80s and the late 90s, early 00s. Pretty cool - And deservingly so, since they've finally figured out how to kick some major ass.

Full Circle is not the kind of album that will sit well with you the first time you hear it. Since it's a much more midpaced and yet somehow heavier record than a lot of earlier Saga, fans of the band may feel a little left out by the new sound. No worries, give it a second chance and it will instantly catch on with you. This version of Saga is a machine, a band who knows how to deal out a solid output without many (if any) glaring weak points. Take for instance the blistering opener, Remember When which reprises Don't Be Late (Chapter 2) from their third album, Silent Knight. This upbeat rocker makes the best of the band's style and adds splashes of synths to give texture to the overall composition, Sadler and Crighton leading the charge as always. Things pick up even more with The One, Crighton's crunching riff punching a hole in the back of your skull if you're not ready for it.

Then we get to the good stuff, Saga has always been best known in the progressive community for their ''Chapters'' songs, and here's the first ones in some 17 years for the boys. Uncle Albert's Eyes (Chapter 13) is one of the most emotional songs ever put to tape by the band, the midpaced, eerie song finally explodes into motion and goes from good to f***ing 11 when a dueling keyboard/guitar solo that is faster than most anything Saga has ever played before kicks into gear. Not This Way (Chapter 10) is a good and worthwhile ballad that's nothing to write home about, especially not after Chapter 13, but it still makes a nice, emotional addition anyways, especially in context of the album itself.

The rest of the album is full of other standouts as well. Home is a rather uplifting song highlighted by Sadler's vocals while Time Bomb is brought to life by more of those crunching riffs from Crighton. Don't Say Goodbye is a whimsical sounding song thanks to the backing vocals at the chorus, complimented by the sad Goodbye that finally ends the album. A Night To Remember is the last chunky song on the album, another heavy and eerie song that's not at all typical of Saga, but still amazing none the less. Perhaps the only song that doesn't work on the album is the third track, Follow Me, which starts out promisingly enough with a subtle riff that sounds like something that could have been off of Rush's Snake & Arrows album but then goes into a slower section. Sadler does some nice parts, but it's the children's chorus during the song that is really erking. Somehow it just doesn't fit on the album, especially on the heavies thing that Saga has done up to this point! Following up something like The One with something that sounds like it could be drifting out of a kindergarten at lunch time? a little bit too harsh of contrast.

Still, the album is remarkable overall, and a very strong release for the band. People have compared this era of Saga to the Canadian equivalent of Neo-Progressive and I'd say they're not far off. If you fancy yourself as interested in that kind of sound, or you're a fan of the early Saga catalog then this is definitely recommended to you. Overall, this is an excellent addition to any progressive music collection and deserves 4 stars accordingly. Not a lot of bands can pull of going full circle, but Saga certainly did.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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