|Circus Maximus The 1st Chapter||Frontiers Records|
Circus Maximus have instantly put themselves on the progressive metal map with their debut album thanks to an album which contains some very catchy songs, great performances and a major label production quality.|
It also helps that the band has a sound that mirrors possibly the most acclaimed band of the recent progressive era – Dream Theater. In fact, these guys sound more like Dream Theater than even they do these days.
While I spend too much time lamenting why that band doesn't repeat the energy and sound of their best album Images And Words, Circus Maximus have gone and done it instead.
9 tracks spread over 70 minutes sees the band work both ends of the scale, with straight up melodic metal punched into some short and relatively straight forward tracks, mixed in with some epic progressive moments, including one track clocking over 10 minutes and another nearly 20 minutes.
The band claim producer's credit, but master mixer Tommy Hansen ensures a clean crisp sound and perfect balance.
Circus Maximus hail from Norway of all places, but sound straight from the pages of California's Dream Theater.
Vocalist Michael Eriksen sounds like James LaBrie, but with an extra melodic touch that adds a little Geddy Lee and perhaps a little Tony Harnell when he goes for the higher register and the extra melodic hooks.
Musically speaking the guys are as tight and as talented as just about any other prog-metal outfit out there.
But they have the edge on everyone right now because this set of songs is truly memorable. I'll be the first to admit I generally like it straight up and filled with hooks, but even the longer tracks on this album kept me entertained and interested. No mean feat that and credit to the guys for this.
Highlights? Well, there are no low points, but the opening two tracks and Why Am I Here pack a powerful and melodic punch, along with the epic 10 minute Glory Of The Empire, which is laced with solos, harmonies and great hooks.
I'm not really taken with the instrumental track Biosfear (see Royal Hunt review), but everything else rocks.
I'm still not sure the bonus track Hanuted Dreams adds anything to the album. Perhaps the label was worried about releasing an 8 track album. At any rate, it's not an essential addition and the album might have been better to end after the 20 minute epic The 1st Chapter.
Extremely well played and produced and even better – extremely well written and arranged songs. Catchy, memorable and played like seasoned pro's.
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