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A.C.T Circus Pandemonium album cover
3.92 | 224 ratings | 7 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Intro (1:01)
2. The End (5:56)
3. Everything's Falling (4:55)
4. Manager's Wish (5:54)
5. A Truly Gifted Man (6:44)
6. Presentation (1:03)
7. Look At The Freak (1:13)
8. Argument (1:06)
9. Confrontation (1:12)
10. A Mother's Love (2:37)
11. The Funniest Man Alive (3:46)
12. Scared (Japanese bonus track) (4:43)
13. A Failed Escape Attempt (5:18)
14. Lady In White (4:40)
15. Freak Of Nature (5:59)

Total Time 56:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Herman Saming / lead & backing vocals
- Ola Andersson / guitar, lead & backing vocals
- Jerry Sahlin / synth, lead & backing vocals, vocoder, samples & Fx, strings & orchestra co-composer
- Peter Asp / bass
- Thomas Lejon / drums

- Linnea Olnert / lead & backing vocals (3,5,11,12)
- Sara Wendelford / lead vocals (10)
- Peter Rider / voice
- Imogen Ross / voice
- Jim Gilmour / keyboards solo (9)
- Martin Svensson / strings & orchestra co-composer and arrangements
- Martin Rudefelt / samples & Fx

Releases information

Artwork: Carlos Zuniga

CD Actworld - ACT005A (2014, Europe)

Thanks to Rune2000 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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A.C.T Circus Pandemonium ratings distribution

(224 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

A.C.T Circus Pandemonium reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Circus Pandemonium" is the 5th full-length studio album by Swedish progressive rock/metal act A.C.T. The album was released through Marquee Avalon in March 2014. Itīs the first album release by the band since "Silence (2006)", so itīs been an 8 years long recording break, and I was beginning to wonder if they had disbanded without telling the world.

Thankfully thatīs not the case and "Circus Pandemonium" sees A.C.T return doing what they do best: Playing melodic progressive rock/metal with great positive energy delivered with sublime technical skill. They have a distinct sound, that sets them apart from most other contemporary acts although their influences do shine through. When listening to A.C.T Iīm first and foremost reminded of 70s art rock acts like Roxy Music, 10cc, Supertramp and especially Queen, but with an added progressive metal edge that reminds me of early Dream Theater.

While the music is played with great technical skill, the tracks are for the most part vers/chorus structured. The band almost always include surprises during the tracks though and while this isnīt the kind of progressive rock/metal music created to show off, there are still some pretty complex parts being played. The music for the most part sounds lighthearted and features great positive energy (sometimes to the point where Iīm thinking Iīm listening to a piece from a Broadway Musical), which make "Circus Pandemonium" quite the party to listen to. The instrumentation consists of bass, guitars, drums and keyboards, but itīs the high pitched vocals by Herman Saming thatīs predominantly in focus. The addition of harmony and choir vocals are also an important ingredient of the bandīs sound (the Queen reference is especially strong in that part of the music).

The material on "Circus Pandemonium" are generally quite clever and well written. A.C.T are very skilled composers and they pull off their adventurous ideas with ease. The combination of occasional heavy riffing and lighthearted (almost whimsical) musical ideas work wonders. Packed in a powerful and clear sound production "Circus Pandemonium" comes off as a high quality release on all parameters and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A 'return to form' effort that's worth enjoying ...

As I mentioned earlier in my previous writing that I am quite happy with recent developments in prog scene as many bands produce excellent albums. In fact it confuses me which one I should spin as so many excellent happenings in relation to prog. For this reason, I do not want to expand my listening horizon to other music but prog. Why? No time man! There are so many good album from many musicians / bands like IQ, Transatlantic, Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Curved Air, The Flower Kings to mention some of them. And now I am writing my view on another excellent album by Sweden prog group called themselves as A.C.T. Prog music is really nice and gives me full of joy in life. Prog music motivates me to create innovative things in my professional life as strategy & change management consultant. In fact, I play prog music from my MacBook when I facilitate workshops with my clients. If I am lucky sometime I got one or some of the participants asked me what music that I play. Or ...sometimes they came to me and say: "Hey are a prog fan?" YUP! Of course I am; and I am proud being a prog fan!!! There is no other music as captivating a PROG - full stop!

I have a strong rationale why I love prog music very much. The proof is quite easy: get the CD of this Circus Pandemonium and spin it. Taste the music with open mind and conclude: what type of music this gentlemen from Sweden play through this album? Most of them will not be able to categorize under what basket this album is. Yes, there is a bit of rock, a bit of pop, a bit of metal and mix of them. While people like us easily say: This is PROG man! In one of reviews I did for the bad, I mentioned that they play a "cabaret rock" music. A term that is not usual in any music critics industry, I think ...

And talking about A.C.T you may want to browse around this site that I have reviewed all of their previous four albums with various rating depending upon how I feel and I think about the music. In a nutshell, after eight years of silent since their weak "Silence" album released in 2006, this new album remarks the "return to form" spirit as musically this one is closer to their best album ever "The Last Epic" released before "Silence". Even though I do not follow the band's activities during its silent or vacuum period of eight years but I always follow their release and write a review for it.

The album kicks off with an ambient nuance that sounds like silence mode just before a show - a circus show. And it blasts off with an energetic music through its second track The End (5:56). The tempo is upbeat and you may consider this as a straight rock kind of style but it surprises me when it suddenly break with powerful vocal which brings the music into its full power. I find a full sense of joy with this track and the vocal harmonies are truly topnotch, backed with excellent music riffs. There is also orchestration as well through the passage of the track. What then surprises me is the break where it seems like audience giving applaud to the circus act. It's really an innovative break! I would say this track is a masterpiece as it's flawless in terms of composition and performance. At the end of the track there is a powerful riffs combined beautifully with orchestrated arrangements and ...again ..another break with people's laugh giving applause.

The third track Everything's Falling (4:55) is still with its high energy tempo, even faster than the previous one. I love the riffs produced through its transition segments as well as jaw- dropping drumwork. The basslines are great and in some segments produce memorable riffs. The interlude part demonstrating short solo of keyboard combined with powerful basslines is really excellent - followed by powerful vocal line. Manager's Wish (5:54) is the next track with still an energetic style combined with some break with slow tempo combined with vocal line. This time it seems like there is a communication between the Manager and its circus players. A Truly Gifted Man (6:44) is different in style with nice piano fills. The music is kind of combined pop rock and reggae rhythm section. Presentation (1:03) is basically a break that demonstrates a dialogue followed with fast tempo and unique music of Look At The Freak (1:13). The follow-ups are short tracks with duration of 1 to 2 minutes :Argument (1:06), Confrontation (1:12), A Mother's Love (2:37), The Funniest Man Alive (3:46) depicting various stages of the circus story. I like Confrontation as it's quite complex and played neatly by the band which then flows into mellow part o Mother's Love. Really nice! And there is a bonus track under Japanese edition titled as Scared (4:43). The last two concluding tracks are also excellent: Lady In White (4:40) and Freak Of Nature (5:59). Lady In White has different style compared to other tracks.

Overall this is an excellent album that scores about 4.5 stars. It's beautifully composed and neatly performed by the band. The composition has good melody, superb harmonies on vocal its backing voices as well as the combined work of instruments used plus its orchestration, may tempo and style changes with relatively complex arrangements. The album has a solid structural integrity from start to end of album despite many breaks in the middle of the album - but that makes it richer. I highly recommend this and definitely it's much better than its predecessor released eight years ago. Happy that the band is still alive. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It was a great Christmas gift to read the news of a new A.C.T release, back in December 2013. At that point, I wasn't sure what the status of the band was. I remember having a brief chat with Thomas Lejon, after his gig with Andromeda, in 2011, and asking him about that status of A.C.T but didn't get much more than that the band members were still in touch.

I bought Circus Pandemonium as soon as it was released for pre-order and even got the Japanese release, from some weird Japanese website where I could barely figure out how to place my order. Luckily both versions arrived without any issues and I was ready to dive deep into the fifth official studio release from A.C.T!

The 8 year release gap didn't affect the sound nor the production of the album, as this was still clearly the band I've known and loved. The album was an enjoyable ride from start to finish, or is it the other way at round? More on that later. There were quite a few standout tracks for me initially like Everything's Falling, A Truly Gifted Man and The Funniest Man Alive. Eventually, some of the tracks got a bit overplayed for me, while others grew even more, especially once I got to see A.C.T at their comeback gig on March 1st, 2014 in Gotherburg, Sweden. The band was even better live than I remembered them to be and all the members were firing on all cylinders. This was my all time favorite A.C.T performance to date and I got to see them four more times since then.

The album's concept is not that complicated on paper and I like the twist of having the story play out in reverse order, in style of Christoper Nolan's Memento. But let's be honest, it's the performances and the songwriting that are the focal point of this album. It's safe to say that A.C.T deliver in both categories and managed to craft another fantastic release. I do enjoy Circus Pandemonium a lot and have considered it to be a complete masterpiece on a few occasions, but having had 9 years with it, I will call it a near masterpiece that fits perfectly it the band's discography.

***** star songs: The End (5:56) Everything's Falling (4:55) Look At The Freak (1:13) A Mother's Love (2:37) Lady In White (4:40)

**** star songs: Intro (1:01) Manager's Wish (5:54) A Truly Gifted Man (6:44) Presentation (1:03) Argument (1:06) Confrontation (1:12) The Funniest Man Alive (3:46) Scared (4:43) A Failed Escape Attempt (5:18) Freak Of Nature (5:59)

Latest members reviews

5 stars A.C.T is back with a vengeance. After an 8 year respite in which most of us (myself included) wrote them off, they have concocted an amazing offering. In fact, this may be better than Last Epic. Yes, I'll admit the circusy theme is probably a bit overused in prog, but don't worry because the music ... (read more)

Report this review (#1211456) | Posted by Failcore | Saturday, July 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The Show Must Go On So after a lengthy break of eight years, Swedish heavy prog band A.C.T have finally released a new piece of music, their fifth album, Circus Pandemonium. I found A.C.T through their critically acclaimed 2003 album Last Epic, a ridiculous and fun record, coming equally from ... (read more)

Report this review (#1163606) | Posted by Gallifrey | Saturday, April 19, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I have, after some writings about it, listened to the Swedish band A.C.T.'s fifth and latest record "Circus Pandemonium". You can't hear that the band is Swedish because they sing in English, so they could have been American or whatever. The band hasn't made a record for some years and now 201 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1157929) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Sunday, April 6, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars ACT is backt! After an 8-year silence since their last album, Silence. Their goofy faces (as in their photo on this site) should in the encyplopaedia under eclectic prog. I define their style as Broadway heavy music, or a metal band indulging their Queen, disco-era ELO and that funky-reggae craze ... (read more)

Report this review (#1138979) | Posted by Progrussia | Wednesday, February 26, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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