May 29, 2012

Review: Circus Maximus-Nine

Picking a good band name isn’t always easy. It should reflect the sound, grab one’s attention, and not be too ridiculous (unless everything about you is). Circus Maximus hits the mark, borrowing from the Roman Empire. Romans were metal people.

And the members are very metal as well, as they are from Norway, which is by far the most metal country in the world.

Nine is the bands’ third release. The members claim it is different from any of their previous releases in every way. When asked to describe it in five words, they wouldn’t/couldn’t do it.

This band plays progressive metal well. “Architect of Fortune” has just about every musical element one could ask for from a band like this. “Used” has the balance of brute strength and emotion perfectly sorted. The guitar solo passage in it is where they show their progressive chops the best, playing weird riffs without changing the groove or feel too much. “Burn After Reading” begins with acoustic guitar and flute in the background, and sounds like a track that was cut from Metropolis Part II for the most part. 

Circus Maximus is a good band, but as I listened through this album, I kept that I was listening to a new record from one of their influences. Everyone has influences, but pays tribute to them differently. Circus Maximus does it by melding them all together to create a sound that, well, isn’t new.

The vocal styles are typical prog opera (though they are good). Some of the guitar solo lines sound very typical, but are nonetheless impressive. There may not be quite so many or so radical time changes in each song, but they’re still there. There’s no shortage of virtuosity between players either. The songs tend to be structured in a more palatable, approachable way (i.e. simpler), but mind you, they aren’t bad songs. The band will only get better with more songwriting experience.

I suppose it may not be fair to say the band isn’t a groundbreaking one, since those who came before them beat them to it. I just wish I found something more to differentiate this band from their teachers. But if you listen to the record in and of itself, regardless of what comparisons one can make to the prog godfathers, then you will realize Circus Maximus’ greatness. And they are very talented. If you’re a fan of progressive metal in the old school vein, then you need to hear this group and album.

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Architect Of Fortune, Used, Burn After Reading

Daniel Erickson

May 25, 2012

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