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


Circus Maximus


Progressive Metal

3.82 | 216 ratings

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5 stars It's been a while since I first listened to this record. After numerous and careful listenings, I'm now able to deliver a review without being bothered by the discovery's emphasis.

There's just one thing I can say : these guys have a bright future ahead of 'em. The First Chapter is, put simply, the most exciting debut album since Dream Theater's WDADU and Shadow Gallery epnoymous first release. From the unique musicianship to Mike's over-the- top vocals, this record is packed with ferocious energy.

"Sin" is a great opener, and although the intro riff never fails to remind me of DT's This Dying Soul (especially the drum pattern), the song soon bear the Cm touch : melodic variations, tempo changes and confusing unisons - all that you could look for in prog metal. It is also the first song to deliver a catchy chorus, which is gonna become a trademark for the band.

"Alive" could have been a perfect single. It flows easily between mid-tempo ballad-like parts and speed, astounding solo parts, and features once again some really nice choruses, Mike being followed and sustained by Truls. The song is perfectly crafted, not too long, not too short, and manages to keep a cool balance between heaviness and melody.

"The Glory Of The Empire" is the first epic of the album. Ten minutes of trip, revolving around Gladiator, the award-winning movie that, I assume, everyone knows. The lyrics are great here, and fits nicely to this great progressive piece. There's nothing I could add : if you liked the movie, you'll definetely like this song. Otherwise, it still remains a great track, although not being my favorite.

"Biosfear" is a DT-like instrumental - I can already hear people yelling that they just copied DT sound. That's true - but who cound complain when it's done so brilliantly? Bisofear is basically a DT tribute to me, and Circus Maximus being a young band, they surely listened (and keep listening, maybe) to DT a lot during the 90's. This is no shameful, blatant copy : this instrumental track actually prevents the band from over-soloing the other songs, and that's good. Anyway, if you wish to hear what they can do, technically, this one's for you. I repeat : brilliant. The ending unison crescendo is awesome.

"Silence From Angels Above" is TFC ballad. A cool, slow song - definetely not my type. It's well-written, well-played but fails to hit me like it should have. The only "bad" song to me on this album; nevertheless, far better than what other bands do nowadays. Maybe this one will get better when performed live... Time will tell.

"Why Am I Here?" let the band get back to some more heavy stuff. The opening is fast- paced and loud. Nice keyboard parts here, and Mike's still overwhelming. His voice never fades behind the music. Once again, the catchy chorus (some may say "cheap"... let them what they want) is on for a single-like touch. But the numerous breaks and changes of rythm DO add the progressive part, making this song a really great one, far from what you could expect after just a one-minute listen. The ending solos are damn good.

"The Prophecy" is a long, atmospheric piece that starts with a delicate acoustic guitar part that goes along a soft piano theme : beautiful intro. Mike's voice is really nice here, never too high, keeping a warm feeling all the way through. The lyrics are great. Then it goes back to heaviness for a while. Again, a "commercial" chorus that may disturb many, but not me. It feels just perfect for the song's overall mood. There are some beautiful keyboard parts inside the heavy moments, before a great ending solo once again. Then some last words, cycling with the opening ones, for a nice "story-telling" effect, like you just read a book and now are closing it before going to sleep. Really cool.

"The First Chapter" is the monster here. 19 minutes of incredibly progressive metal! A long intro featuring great drumming succeeds in engulfing the listener in CM's universe. Mike's vocals lift off all of sudden, starting a trip in a fantasy world... But is this fantasy? As far as music can provide entertainement : YES. You think that long songs are either boring or full of fillers? Try this one for a change. TFC is AWESOME. From beginning to end, this track alone defines CM's style : epic, glorious at times, heavy, appealling to your dreams. I better not let myself go on this one, as there is just TOO MUCH to say. Just give it a try... The song ends with carnivale-like music box sounds, really nice. A beautiful ending.

There a bonus song to really put an end to the record. Either called "Haunted Dreams" or "Imperial Destruction", it was only a bonus to european editions. A obviously Metallica- inspired track, but still feels good to hear. Mike sounds just like James at moments, and that's cool too, since James is just the shadow of himself these days.

It's about time I conclude. Circus Maximus is a young, talented and promising band. Keep that name in mind, for they may become the new prog-metal legends around here... Check the studio demos on their official website : you'll see for yourselves. The new songs sound great already. The rare live bootlegs also show that CM CAN play live, especially Mike who is an outstanding vocalist, one of the best nowadays. Lasse, who replaced Espen on keyboards shortly after the album release, is already getting the feel, both in studio (the unisons're gonna be great!) and on stage, where he performs like he was in the band from the start.

I decently can't give them less than 5 stars. This is a DEBUT ALBUM... Simply ass-kicking. Let's say, 4.5 stars rounded up.


ValhallFR | 5/5 |


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