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Review: Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter
Circus Maximus
The 1st Chapter

Label: Intromental
Year released: 2005
Duration: 70:44
Tracks: 9
Genre: Progressive Metal


Review online: February 22, 2009
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.25/5 (85%) (24 Votes)

Rarely does a debut impress as much as this. Our first taste of Norway’s Circus Maximus was certainly one to remember. Sure, a lot of acts are plugging the Progressive Metal sound these days, usually taking pages from Dream Theater or Symphony X’s back catalogues. Of course it would be easy to throw assumptions at Circus Maximus taking too much from their forefathers. I’ve heard it a hundred times before, first rate bullshitters proclaiming a lack of originality: "Why listen to Circus Maximus, when I could listen to Dream Theater or Symphony X"? Simple answer; Circus Maximus do it better than DT or SX have done in years.

Circus Maximum Take their cue straight from the immortal Images & Words and blend in the glorious, epic overtones Symphony X employed during classic tracks such as "The Odyssey" and "The Divine Wings of Tragedy". Upon first listen I was in sheer shock and disbelief, how on earth could this be a debut? The twin assault of opener "Sin" and follow up "Alive" show us just how Progressive Metal should be played in the new millennium; complex, interesting, heavy, never too over indulgent but above all catchy. Sound-wise we really struck gold, with a divine guitar tone, rich keys and a towering rhythm section - this is pure bliss on the eardrums. Vocalist Michael Erikson deserves a shout out because this guy can fucking sing; he boasts an impressive range and never annoys when hitting the high register, it’s hard to make comparisons. Imagine the result of Michele Luppi, Nils K Rue and Geoff Tate having their vocals spliced together and maybe, just maybe you would get an idea how Michael sounds.

Wizened Prog fans will find much joy in tracks such as "Glory of the Empire", instrumental "Biosfear" or the show stopper of an album closer "The 1st Chapter", clocking in at an impressive 19:08 minutes you can really get lost in there, one of the finer tracks this length I’ve heard in recent years. The 1st Chapter never sails into stupidity, even in the longer tracks it refuses to descend into instrumental masturbation, always keeping things interesting and heavy. With their debut Circus Maximus have managed to become relevant in a scene filled with copycats and show-offs. In my eyes I see these guys as front-runners on the Prog circuit, featuring everything good about the genre; I would forward this band to any metal fan looking to dive into the exciting world of Progressive Metal. Such an exciting debut and things were to get even more exciting with sophomore effort Isolate. This album is really a no brainer and one of the finest in recent years. Buy this now!

More about Circus Maximus...
Review: Havoc (reviewed by Bruno Medeiros)
Review: Isolate (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Review: Isolate (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
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