Greetings rockin’ readers! On October 16th CIIC dropped their newest album with earMUSIC.
Reign of Darkness launched to #9 on Amazon’s Hot New Metal Release Chart on the next day. I
am not surprised because it is a great listen!
CIIC is an American Progressive Power Metal Band that was formed by Zachary “Zak” Stevens.
Zak’s vocals were his claim to fame with Wicked Witch. Criss Oliva, Savatage's lead guitarist,
and Paul O'Neill, their producer, took notice of him when John Oliva decided to step down from
the lead. After an audition, Zak joined Savatage in 1993. His last work with Savatage was The
Wake of Magellan (1997). This was considered by most fans to be the best of Savatage post-
1993. Savatage released 11 studio albums and Zak was lead in 5 of those from 1993 through
Zak left Savatage for family reasons in 2000, but didn’t stay away from the music scene long.
CIIC was ready for their debut by April of 2003. One of CIIC’s career highlights was the
performance of The Wake of Magellan at Wacken Open Air in 2012. After this historical gig at
the largest rock fest in the world, CIIC was off to begin a sold-out tour of Europe and Brazil.
In CIIC’s Reign of Darkness, Zak is leading with melodically smooth, but yet, gruff vocals,
Mitch Stewart’s bass brings rich undertones, Bill Hudson and Christian Wentz are driving the
guitars with a power metal essence, Henning Wanner is lending a progressive metal sound with
the keyboards, and Marcelo Moreira brings dynamically shifting drum beats.
When I listened to the first track, Over-Underture, it was immediately familiar, but with a
harmonious overhaul. You will instantly recognize CIIC. Don’t skip this one, guys! It is a must
hear to truly appreciate the revamped instrumental sound of CIIC.
After many listens, my favorite track is unquestionably Ghost of the Devil. It is a great
illustration of the revitalization of CIIC with a hint Savatage. The song begins by referring to the
curse of creation as being the source of damnation. The layers of the instruments are in perfect
beat with Zak’s strong vocals. This song surges with the power one has over their life and the
turning away from societal norms. It is aggressive, vicious, and vengeful with a taste of madness.
Solitary Rain deserves a listen as well. The keyboard, true to the title, emits the sounds of a cold,
chilling rain. The lyrics and instrumental layers ooze misery, fear, helplessness, and embraces
pain. As appalling as this may sound, the song produces a calming sensation. This effect, in my
opinion, can be credited to masterful use of Wanner on the keyboard and Wentz and Hudson
symphonically strumming the guitars.
CIIC ingeniously relied on the past and meshed it with the new for a kick ass, fresh twist. Reign
of Darkness is exploding with a renewed sound that will lead CIIC into a killer future!
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