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Review: Machine Men - Circus of Fools
Machine Men
Circus of Fools

Label: Century Media
Year released: 2007
Duration: 42:08
Tracks: 9
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 3/5

Review online: April 1, 2007
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers Rating
Circus of Fools

Rated 4.27/5 (85.33%) (15 Votes)

Politics aside, the thought of a new instalment of the Machine Men saga is a trouser-tightening contemplation. We all know how admirable it is for a band to pay homage to Bruce Dickinson's solo efforts as apposed to the more familiar work of his day job in Iron Maiden; so I won't bore you with the story thus far/comparisons to either project. Let's just say, if you've heard Dickinson's last three solo albums you'll hear pretty much the same thing here, except of course with more power, determination and damn more metal conviction than on those primitive releases. Not to say I don't like those albums; on the contrary, "The Chemical Wedding" is one of my favourite metal records. And in fact, Machine Men's last melodic maelstrom - 2005's "Elegies" - was one of my most beloved purchases that year. So believe me, upon grabbing their third chapter of the ongoing musical plagiarism, I was eager, stiff, and ready to go. It's a shame the album wasn't the same thing.

Opening with the fervent title track, it is apparent how little has changed since "Elegies". The riffs are fatter, the production's sharper and Antony's vocals are higher. And we're pretty much where we left off. Again, this is no bad thing; Machine Men have honed their blades and are aiming for the jugular. They are one of the only Finnish metal bands in the melodic scene not opting for either the Children Of Bodom sound or the Stratovarius familiarity. I only behest to them to believe in themselves and spring their sound forward. It's too frustrating to simply lay back and watch them repeat everything they've repeated before with no adjustment. Granted, Antony may have started out as a Dickinson clone but he is surely coming into his own, with one of the most articulated voices in the genre; being both celestial and bestial equally. Still, there is no doubt concerning the lack of immediacy on "Circus of Fools". The hooks just aren't there. All the choruses sound like bridges. Everything is so familiar, if not a little heavier.

All is not lost however; along the way towards the final track in the shape of "The Cardinal Point", the band goes through some vital transformations. "The Shadow Gallery" is a masterclass in epic song writing; the swirling emotions and subtly drenched pianos really pulls the track from the speakers and the hyper-heavy thrash fest "Tyrannize" proffers the best hook with a tight, enveloping chorus, leaving about as much room to breathe as a plastic bag.

There is one almighty plus in that "Circus of Fools" has the longevity of Duracell, so worries may be dispelled: it does grow on you. Always a welcome band to have around, and one that will never fail to amaze me in the facetious manner they portray European power metal. Initially disappointing. Ultimately rewarding.

Other related information on the site
Review: Circus of Fools (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Machine Men (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
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