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Album Review

For a band whose first album — 2005's rather unimaginatively named The 1st Chapter — was modeled so closely on Dream Theater's melodic progressive metal blueprint, Norway's Circus Maximus experienced very little resistance from the brutally judgmental prog metal intelligentsia. And for one simple reason: they wrote some amazing songs — better at times than Dream Theater, in fact, so there! However, these merits did not crystallize quite so unambiguously on the band's sophomore opus, Isolate, two years later (all of the key ingredients remained in place but the resulting musical algorithms just didn't add up as perfectly), and then, worrisomely, Circus Maximus' third long-player, the cryptically named Nine, endured a half-decade's gestation before finally being unveiled in 2012. Well, it seems that the members of Circus Maximus were merely biding their time, honing their new songs to optimal condition around strong melodies, singable choruses, and, yes, copious instrumental woodshedding before unveiling them at last. All of that woodshedding takes charge of several longer, more involved tracks ("Architect of Fortune," "Last Goodbye"), as you would expect, but is sprinkled more judiciously into the surprisingly large number of concise, radio-oriented numbers (the forceful "Namaste," the inspiring "I Am," etc.) that thoroughly dominate this album. Yet, no matter how uncomplicated and radio-friendly the latter become at times (and "Game of Life" and "Reach Within" are essentially metal-free offerings, shredding guitar solos notwithstanding), the album's consistently brainy, at times even recondite lyrics, serve as a constant reminder of Circus Maximus' certified nerd quotient, culminating in the excellent "Burn After Reading," with its curious love triangle between a mysterious woman, a scholarly archaeologist…and his rocks. Rocks? Which begs the obvious question (heck, why not?): does Nine actually rock, and the answer is "you bet!" — though it comes with a level of production gloss and songwriting finesse that may leave harder-boiled metal heads unmoved and fans of prog that actually, you know, "progresses," less than totally impressed. Judged entirely upon Circus Maximus' career-long sonic aesthetic, though, Nine roundly delivers the goods, and the long wait only proves that the band knew they'd better deliver. If not, they would become just another Dream Theater clone, after all.

Customer Reviews

PHENOMENAL AS EXPECTED

Probably one of the most enjoyable albums to listen too. The incredible musicianship will just blow you away. I've waited a while for this cd and NOT disappointed in the least. So many different things in the music just happen at once and some cool signature changes. This is a band I'd love to see fill the bill with Dream Theater. A total must buy If you are still reading you already wasted too much time. JUST GET IT. KILLER!! KILLER!! KILLER!! Keep it going CM....

First Impression: Blown Away

This is complex, multi-faceted, sonically lush, gorgeous music we have here. The amounts of twists and turns you are taken through on this musical journey are seemingly limitless. This hour long masterpiece flew by in what seemed like minutes and the final ten minute song "Last Goodbye" is without a doubt one of the great triumphs for progressive music. Spread the word. Circus Maximus is back.

Circus Maximus is back!!!

This is a GREAT album. The time off from recording as well as the band members life experiences have been good to these guys. The band went in a more melodic direction with this release and all I can say is WHOA!!! Of course, as with alot of proggresive type music, this will take a while to connect with musically and emotionally for me, but I feel it can only get better. Any fan of progressive music and especially Circus Maximus should definatley pick this one up. Welcome back, guys.

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Norway

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Norway's Circus Maximus integrate the new millennium's first wave of progressive heavy metal. Formed in 2000, Circus Maximus consist of experienced musicians Michael Eriksen (vocals, guitar), Mats Haugen (guitar), Espen Storø (keyboards), Glen Cato Møllen (bass), and Truls Haugen (drums), and the group's 2005 debut album, The...
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Nine, Circus Maximus
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