Magic & Madness

Circus Of Power

Columbia Records, 1993

http://www.facebook.com/circusofpower

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/17/2016

The year was 1993 and metal was pretty much extinct. Nobody but Bon Jovi, Firehouse, and a scant other few were able to move units. Circus Of Power was a proponent of biker metal, a combination of blues and metal that appealed to a select group of fans, and they had just lost their previous record deal. So Columbia stepped in and offered them a new deal. The result was this record – and yikes, does it not succeed. When the first two songs are pushing seven minutes apiece, you know you’re in trouble.

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The overall sludginess of “Swamp Devil” doesn’t do much to hide the fact that the band didn’t have a whole lot to offer. Vocalist Alex Mitchell is decent, but the band doesn’t sound any better than a Black Crowes or ZZ Top cover band. Even when they try something slower, like “Circles,” it just doesn’t work as well as it could. Elsewhere, a song like “Evil Woman” drags on forever and doesn’t go anywhere at all.

What boggles my mind is that the band had added to their lineup drummer extraordinaire Victor Indrizzo, who has played with everyone from Sheryl Crow to Samiam, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t utilized on this recording. Instead the drums were handled by a former percussionist for David Lee Roth, so that tells where you what the mindset was going into the studio.

Guitarist/songwriter Gary Sunshine tries with all his might to prove himself a worthy guitarist, but aside from a few moments, he just seems like a bluesy wannabe trying to make himself one of the greats but falling short. Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell steps in to lend a hand on “Heaven & Hell,” one of the few songs here worth a damn, while Ian Astbury of the Cult lends his vocals on “Shine” and helps elevate the track, making it one of the better moments here. Meanwhile, “Slip Away” slows down the tempo and allows Mitchell to do something else than growl his vocals.

Let’s face it, a song like “Mama Tequila” isn’t going to be a hit with people who don’t hang out in biker bars and party like there’s no tomorrow. This was a record that was made for a waning audience, one who’d gotten replaced by grunge and modern rock fans that had no patience for sludgy biker rock.

In the end, the record stiffed, the band got dropped, Alex Mitchell went back to the bar circuit, and the world seemed content that biker metal was laid to rest, for once and for all!

Rating: D

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