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Circle of Illusion - Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms CD (album) cover


Circle of Illusion


Progressive Metal

4.01 | 159 ratings

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5 stars Circle Of Illusion is a 5-piece band including a violinist, who hired three vocalists and added orchestrations to give life to an opera-metal that they named 'Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms'.

The overture starts off like the soundtrack to a Harry Potter movie, then reeds, strings and vibraphone enter, together with the rock instrumentation. It segues into the second track with male vocals in an eerie mood, followed by disco-funk rhythms, soon replaced by jazz-funk with prominent funky bass, some R'n'B female vocals and a dancing beat. Music then becomes heavier, reminiscent of Pain Of Salvation, interspersed with two jazzy interludes (drums with violin in the first interlude, piano in the second). After The second jazz interlude, the dancing R'n'B-like beat returns before some disco-metal reminiscent of Stolen Babies settles, soon followed by some syncopated instrumental metal craziness. Processed male vocals give an end to the metal craziness, then the Pain Of Salvation-like funky prog-metal concludes the track and some threatening orchestration transitions to the next track. Track 3 starts with some bizarre keyboards and straightforward metal attacks. Female vocals alternate with male ones in a maelstrom of prog- metal, funk-metal and jazz-metal, interspersed with quieter layers of jazz-funk/disco background. Towards the 2/3 of the track, the music comes with some Meshuggah go/stop syncopated pattern. It is soon followed by piano-lead disco-jazz interlude. The song continues with some straightforward melodic metal, before harsh syncopated prog-metal closes the track. Track 4 has a Kashmir-like opening, with drums and violins leading the party. Orchestrations that could come right from an animated fairytale movie follow with a keyboard-generated choir. Harsh and echoing male vocals then take the lead, with a metal background. They are soon followed by heavenly female vocals. Loungey music can be heard afterwards, with male vocals punctuated by a female choir, then an instrumental jazz-funk interlude with some distant rhodes. Female vocals replace male ones in uptempo jazz-pop music soon evolving in a straightforward metal with alternance of male and female vocals. Orchestra then underlines its comeback, before the harsh and echoing male vocals of the beginning return briefly. The track ends in an epic way with alternance of passionate male and female vocals. As its title suggets, track 5 is a track you can dance to. It is disco-funk with R'n'B-like female vocals. Track 6 starts in a melancholic way with a weeping violin. Female vocals that follow are not optimistic either. This song alternates between slow tempo and more upbeat tempo, with female vocals only. A brief instrumental bridge comes breaking the alternance of slow-paced sung moments and fast-paced ones towards the 2/3 of the song. Track 7 has some enchanting soundtrack overture, soon followed by aerial guitar and something wicked coming with threatening strings and harsh guitars. This is in introduction to some funky prog-metal with a firework of drum chops. Female vocals and distant male vocals calm down the atmosphere. Some aquatic/hypnotic keyboards follow with romantic strings and a pronounced presence of the orchestra, before the song continues in optimistic funk/prog-metal direction. Just for the sake of eclectism, some techno music is interspersed before the song continues with some funk-metal la Faith No More including harsh rap-like vocals. Female vocals then predominate until the end of the song, at times in an operatic way. The music is then very reminiscent of Dream Theater, with its drum and guitar acrobatics. Track 8 starts with acoustic guitar and cascading keyboard layers, followed by echoing guitar layers (not far from David Torn's style) and prog-metal with strong presence of orchestra. Females vocals are interspersed with passionate male vocals. The instrumental passages that punctuate the sung passages are very reminiscent of Liquid Tension Experiment with their broad range of keyboard sounds, as if it were a wink to Jordan Rudess. Some Zappa influence might be noted in the use of vibraphone. This song has many rhythm changes, and harp-like keyboards conclude it, another wink to Jordan Rudess. Track 9 starts as a pop song, with gentle piano layers reminiscent of Chopin. It is female-fronted and evolves towards vocal jazz. It has an epic rock end. Track 10 is funky prog-metal la Pain of Salvation. It has also a Stolen Babies flavour with a mix of straightforward metal and dance music in the middle and at the end of the song. Overall, the atmosphere is threatening and heavy, like a dark cloud ready to pour rain on earth. The piano alternates between classical era touches and contemporary era touches. Track 11 is the "long one". A sad guitar opens the song, with some weird floating keyboards. Violin and orchestra then give it a strong feel of movie soundtrack. Passionate vocals follow with aerial guitar. The rock band plays together with obsessing violin. A recitation comes, with female vocals, that were processed to match the title of the song ("nightmare"). Then some sequenced "liquid" keyboards give an eerie feel to the song. The pace goes faster, with female vocals. A short trip-hop passage is thrown in, before the female vocals return, this time with a slower pace of the music. A short samba-like funk-rock passage comes unexpectedly, with male vocals, then on to power/prog-metal territories with alternance of female and male vocals. The pace accelerates then decelerates before knowing no boundaries in the time changes, assisted by some flashy and pyrotechnic keyboard work as well as some tasty orchestrations. Aerial guitar joins the party a bit later, before the same passionate vocals as at the start and recitation (this time provided by male vocalist) come to close the song in a symmetrical way.

The album is long (almost 80 mn), but given its broad range of influences (funk-rock, disco, pop, jazz, classical music) and its frequent time and mood changes, it keeps the listener captivated. Influences include Pain Of Slavation, the russian band Mechanical Poet (which, like Circle Of Illusion, blends prog-metal with classical orchestrations), Stolen Babies, Meshuggah, Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Ayreon, Frank Zappa, OSTs for sagas like Harry Potter or The Lord Of The Rings, and for a lesser part disco-funk, trip-hop, pop and vocal jazz.

lucas | 5/5 |


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