Red Circuit – Homeland (Limb/Riot)

While the term 'prog rock' doesn’t necessarily invoke pleasant thoughts for many of us, German band Red Circuit have taken prog, smashed it against a rock, picked up the pieces and come up with an album that revels in the power of the riff, of the song and the melody, while still dabbling in the better moments that prog can provide without ever wandering off into the “ooh aren’t I a clever chap” territory that plagues so many bands.

Led by keyboardist and producer Markus Teske and with Sri Lankan born vocalist Chity Somapala showing us just why he is revered as one of the best metal vocalists around, Red Circuit’s second album Homeland never lets up with ten tracks of stunningly produced power/prog metal that you will be hard pressed to find fault with. Guitarist Chris Moser pulls out all stops while the rhythm section of Andy Klein (drums) and Thomas Schmitt (bass) hold down the fort with some powerful work of their own.

From title track and opener Homeland which hits hard with some solid guitar from the get go through Sun Of Utopia, the stunning Absinth where Somapala really lets his voice fly, Canonize Your Sins, See The Light, and the final track, the power ballad You Can Sleep While You’re Dead, there is no stumble, no fall, no faltering at all.  These guys have too much experience between them to make any mistakes here, hell they’ve crafted a damn near perfect album.  Of course, that could also go against them too.

There is nothing wrong with this album at all, it’s polished to perfection; but there’s also a feeling of maybe having heard a lot of it before, of nothing really new - but, hell, that is pure nitpicking.  Truth is, this album grabbed me with just one listen. I was surprised at the power, the playing, the melody, that damn voice, and the production team of Teske and Andy Kuntz, who also supplied second guitar, can’t be faulted either. 

I’ve heard some decent stuff recently from a slew of European bands that haven’t quite got it right because they’ve had too many hands in the pot, or got too self-indulgent, or not quite had the songs to back up the talent, but Red Circuit have got it right.  They haven’t let egos run amok, they’ve kept it simple, and most importantly they’ve got the songs to back up the talent. 

If you’re a fan of European power metal, of the better prog bands, you need to do yourself a favour and track this down, it’s up there with the best of 2009 and if I hadn’t already done my top ten, it would definitely be in my list.

The Red Circuit's Homeland is out now on Limb/Riot.