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Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter CD (album) cover


Circus Maximus


Progressive Metal

3.82 | 205 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Is it really the 1st Chapter?

Circus Maximus' The 1st Chapter is the debut work this Norwegian quintet. The 1st Chapter, may be a misleading title. While it is the first work from the band, it sounds much too much like other bands in this genre. On the positive side, the quality of musicianship for the most part, is well above average competing with those bands that they take so much influence from. The 1st Chapter is well rounded in it's technique, variation, and composing, but it fails to strike a listener as a unique work worth listening to over and over again. Fans of Dream Theater and Pagan's Mind may appreciate this album, or turn away in disgust of the lack of creativity.

Mats Haugen's work on guitar stands out as the finest work on the album. Haugen has much in common with his playing with Pagan's Mind guitarist Jorn Viggo Lofstad. Like Lofstad, Haugen is a Norwegian virtuoso that posesses extraordinary technique. Haugen also exhbits quite a bit of control never getting too much in the face of the listener. Haugen's guitar tones do not directly copy that of his other Norwegian counterpart, making his contribution somewhat refreshing.

Mike Eriksen, the vocalist is much like Haugen. The vocal work throughout this album, especially on the twenty minute epic, The 1st Chapter, is great. Eriksen sings in a variety of ranges and tempos. His sustain is admirable never falling out of key. Eriksen takes a bit too much from his influences (i.e. James LaBrie). There is a lot of potential here. With a different style of mixing or a different setting to the music, Eriksen may excel as a very talented vocalist.

Espen Storo is the keyboardist. I can almost guarantee that Dream Theater's Awake is a tone bank on his synth. Storo exhibits a heavy Kevin Moore influence, so heavy a listener may feel he is listening to Images and Words or Awake. Storo takes many pages out of Moore's book, so many he can full a listener that Kevin Moore is playing on the album. There are times I had to check the booklet to make sure Kevin Moore wasn't a guest keyboardist. Someone who takes so much of Moore's tone also backs it up with matching tone with skill. Storo exhibits a great sense of melody throughout the album just as Kevin Moore did in his Dream Theater days.

Truls Haugen slaps the skins. That means he's the drummer ;). Haugen has some very creative beats and shows great control on his bass drum. He may be the most distinctive part of the band. His cymbals have excellent tone, and he uses his hi-hat in some unique ways. He's rock solid on the beat, and steals the show as far as the rythymn section.

The only complaint I have regarding technique is that of bass player Glen Mollen. Mollen fails to impress my ears, especially on heavier compositions. Mollen is too stuck on root not breakdowns, and rarely supports melody on heavier compositions. His performance and chemistry on softer tunes is much more acceptable. He flows with the chords is much more creative fashions.

The production is excellent, but unoriginal. They may have been going for a very Dream Theater/Pagan's Mind esque sound, and they nailed. This personally seems a little cheap to me, almost like a production cheat. Everything is clear and balanced, but there are no tones that my ears lust for. The keyboards are as I mentioned earlier taken directly from Dream Theater's Awake, generally speaking.

It's not a bad album, it just doesn't sound original and creative.

AtLossForWords | 3/5 |


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