Released by: Frontiers Records
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Progressive Metal
Michael Eriksen – Voice
Mats Haugen – Guitars, backing vox and programming
Truls Haugen – Drums,backing vox and percussion
Glen Møllen – Bass
Lasse Finbråten – Keyboards, samples, programming
‘Flames’ arranged & performed by Circus Maximus
1. The Weight
2. Highest Bitter
6. Loved Ones
7. After the Fire
To define Circus Maximus, is to define an intertwine and intricate wall of sound very subtly structured and refined. No doubt the Norwegian Prog Metal outfit has been delivering excellent high end material since their debut of “The 1st Chapter” all the way back in 2005. Then and there I became a fan of these guys, no, not just because I’m a fellow prog head, but is hard enough to find solid and original material in this often cluttered genre, but chemistry is hard to find when you write music period, and all the musicians involved here play great together. And let not you be the one who throws them into the easily stereotypical “they’re just another Dream Theater” clone, no that’s not the case by a long shot. And if you are that person, go sit in a corner and listen to “Awake” for rest of eternity.
A natural progression of their music followed their debut into one of their best albums in “Isolate”, terrific mix of heavy and melodic vocals made that record, a constant spin on my personal list. But that wasn’t just a one time deal kinda of record, their next one really made ground into a more public arena and subjected the band to more commercial success. With “Nine” their 3rd studio cut, all the songs followed an inspiring and balanced structure, and the powerful vocals of singer “Michael Eriksen”, was just icing on the cake. The writing was mysterious, moody and delivered with execution to the finest degree. How could they possibly surpass that one? Well it seems 4-5 years is the amount of time great prog bands take to make records these days, and with their new “Havoc” out at the moment and their 4th work of art, my thoughts below on what it means and what you can expect.
So we have 9 total cuts, starting with the solid opener of “The Weight” a track that has the chorus and the melodic thump that they brought on their last record. It starts well, leading to “Highest Bitter”, an interesting song as the sound is very bottom heavy, and more in your face, not bad so far so good. But then we get to the self title tune, “Havoc”, a curve ball out of left field, a bit frenetic and out of helter skelter here on their end, only song that doesn’t fit anywhere on the album, not sure how I feel even after listening to this record at least 5-6 times, is like listening to a song while suffering from vertigo, okay the guitars are keen and interesting and Mats Haugen is always a beast on the fret, that does it for me, still could be better.
The build up momentum in “Pages” is nice, again turning the tide to the musicianship as usual, the keys are carefully crafted keeping pace with the rhythm section, a strong tune that keeps the pace going forward when it arrives at “Flames”, the cagey number dates back to any of the great tunes on “Nine”, solid change of pace and Eriksen is golden again on the mic with high and bottom notes here are excellent. Next we have two epics in “Loved Ones” and “After The Fire”, a building progressions of dreamy lyrics and perfect melancholy atonement sustains the pace of these two excellent compositions, this is where this band truly shines, putting all the pieces together, not one band member or element is powerful then the other, they all come together quite nicely to flow with subtle power and rhythm. Props to Lasse Finbråten on keys, he really takes the cake midway through “Loved Ones”, majestic to say the least and not to be left out Haugen soars like Petrucci-esque glory, perfect. “After The Fire” ends literally, you feel like you have gone through a religious awakening of sorts, these sonic wonders are what makes this band so great, what just happened here? I don’t know but it worked quite well, thank you may I have another please….
The close in “Chivalry” starts up with a trance like mood, building and climbing rhythm again provides the listener a soothing experience, but quickly blasts off with a heavy bottom sound that these guys are known for. While not a perfect ending, still solid musicianship and honestly makes me beg for more. Until their next one hopefully not 5 or 6 years down the line.
The final input here leaves me overall satisfied, it may not be as strong top to bottom as “Nine”, but it doesn’t have to be, is stands on it’s own with enough sustaining structure that really keeps this band laying down their blueprint without any doubt in the Progressive world, whilst not sacrificing too much into their commercial groundwork. If that wasn’t enough, it may finally be the time for these guys to spread their wings and hit the road for a considerable amount of time, word of South American and North American tour are on the way, can’t wait. Please check out “Havoc“, and Circus Maximus back catalog you will not be disappointed one bit, as well as their live experience, one that must be witnessed in the flesh.
Written by: Shadow Editor