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CIRCUS MAXIMUS

Progressive Metal • Norway


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Circus Maximus picture
Circus Maximus biography
Founded in Oslo, Norway in 2000

Norwegian CIRCUS MAXIMUS became a full line up in 2000, consisting of long time band-mates Michael Eriksen on vocals and brothers Mats & Truls Haugen on guitar and drums respectively. In addition the band consists of keyboard mastermind Espen Storø and Mats' old high school buddy Glen Cato Møllen on bass. The band has a wide variety of musical influences, from pop/rock to 70's Prog-Rock to Heavy and Death metal, all of which is melted together and gives the guys their unique sound. The melting pot creates a mixture of great melodies, groove, heavy riffs and weird odd time signatures.

Michael is currently also involved in the hard rock band CARNIVORA (who released their debut album "Judas" through FaceFront Records in May 2004). Espen has also been involved in a song or two on the CARNIVORA disc, but is also playing keyboards in a OZZY tribute band called OZZMOSIS. Truls is playing drums in a death-metal band called INSENSE. He also played bass in a Cyber-Metal band called BLACK COMEDY for a couple of years. After he quit that band, Mats stepped in as a session bass player.

After recording 2 demos, which received rave reviews in Norway, as well in Europe and the states, CIRCUS MAXIMUS hooked up with Danish based metal agency Intromental Management in April 2004, and soon after got signed to the American label Sensory Records. During summer of 2004, the band completed the song writing for the debut album, "The First Chapter", which was recorded in various studios in Norway, and mixed in October 2004 in Denmark at Jailhouse Studios with well-known producer Tommy Hansen (HELLOWEEN, PRETTY MAIDS, WUTHERING HEIGHT) at the helm.

The sound is impeccable, the musicianship is out-of-this-world, Michael's voice is amazing (reminding of Tony Harnell, Joey Tempest and Ronnie Atkins), and the songs are simply put outstanding. A superb mixture of classic hard rock anthems and progressive technical bits and pieces. Just listen to such awesome tracks as the upbeat opener "Sin", the beautiful ballad "Silence From Angels Above", the grandiose "Glory Of The Empire" or the 19 minute magnum-piece "The 1st Chapter".

This album will for sure appeal to all fans of bands such as SYMPHONY X X, TNT, DREAM THEATER, PRETTY MAIDS and QUEENSRYCHE.

: : : DimmuS, BELGIUM : : :

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CIRCUS MAXIMUS discography


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CIRCUS MAXIMUS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.82 | 205 ratings
The 1st Chapter
2005
3.75 | 190 ratings
Isolate
2007
3.90 | 179 ratings
Nine
2012
2.94 | 49 ratings
Havoc
2016

CIRCUS MAXIMUS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.40 | 5 ratings
Havoc In Oslo
2017
5.00 | 1 ratings
Nine Live
2019

CIRCUS MAXIMUS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CIRCUS MAXIMUS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CIRCUS MAXIMUS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 4 ratings
Isolated Chapters
2019

CIRCUS MAXIMUS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Havoc by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.94 | 49 ratings

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Havoc
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Mark-P

3 stars To my surprise, at the time I wrote this review, there were only 2 reviews out of 48 ratings in PA. In this fourth album. Circus Maximus has changed a lot their sound and musical style, unfortunately to the direction that is not to my taste. Most of the compositions are rather lean in progressive elements. In some tracks, the sound is heavier and modernized ? I mean the use of sound enhancer and effects are a bit too much for me.

Opening track 'The Weight' has a good shift from dark intro to more accessible phrases. Great drumming by Truls Haugen, frequent changes in rhythms and use of unconventional time signature provide nice progressive elements. Intensive use of power chord and great guitar solo also give strong prog metal taste.

The second track 'Highest Bitter' offers a different sound, with a unique vocal and bass duet in the intro. The interlude has a nice keyboard section for a prelude to a nice guitar solo. The title track 'Havoc' is a short track with aggressive mood and heavy guitar riffs and awesome solo. This is again a new sound for CM. 'Pages' has a great heavy bass track. Love the interlude part, great solo keyboard and one of the best solo guitar in this album.

'Loved Ones' is the best composition in this album. It started with a slow paced peaceful tone and changes faster in the course of the song. The chorus has a nice hook with a great vocal. The interlude has a awesome guitar solo and great variation of time signatures. Nice 8-minute track! 'After The Fire' is also another good 8 and half minute track. It has more keyboard works in this track that give symphonic flavour.

'Flames' is for me a least interesting track in the album, not much to say about this track. 'Remember', even tough a quite light composition, might be one of coolest track to play in live. Great keyboard work, successfully set the optimistic mood of the song.

Chivalry' is a good ending track. Rich composition with anthemic theme that is well performed . Nice unconventional drum fills in the middle of the song, great bass line and guitar riffs. Kind of song that in live concert will take the audience's breath away.

Michael Eriksen vocal and Mats Haugen guitar works remain the two dominant elements. Mats Haugen is undoubtedly great guitarist, with superior ability to write a solo and riffs that are melodic and beautiful even for the song with dark mood. It is also good to hear more dynamic keyboards, drum and bass sections. CM as a band still demonstrates their talent in song writing and great chemistry in track like 'Loved Ones'.

So far, If I have to rank CM albums, I would rank them from most to least favourite as : Nine, 1st Chapter, Isolation and Havoc. True that each of these albums has unique great moments, but from overall sound and composition (this is a progressive music point of view after all), Nine is to me a mature CM with great tracks.

 Nine by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.90 | 179 ratings

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Nine
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Mark-P

4 stars In my opinion, this third album from Circus Maximum shows a firmer musical style. It maintains a lot of good progressive elements, more guitar dominating, and yet more accessible in the overall composition.

'Forging' is a short instrumental opening , with dark keyboard sound. Perhaps for conditioning our ears or as an entree for the upcoming long track 'Architect of Fortune'

There are 3 long tracks between 8-10 minutes each. 'Architect of Fortune' is the longest track, with killer guitar solo even from the beginning of the song. The interlude has a long instrumental sections, primarily guitar, but also has good keyboard and bass companions. The main theme is anthemic, well played with several moods : slower pace by piano to fast glorious guitar riff.

The two others are the last two tracks : 'Burn After Reading' is for me the best composition in this album. Great flow from the intro to the end. Many great instrumental sections and harmonisation between guitar and keyboards. The neo- classical arpeggio style in the guitar section is a real killer solo. The bass and drum works provide great rhythm. Meticulous work from all band members. 'Last Goodbye' : gotta like this glorious farewell track! The intro is uniquely use 80's keyboard sound with acoustics guitar. The overall mood of the song is a good mix of melancholic and optimistic.

'Namaste' has a darker tone, where much of it is contributed by phrygian notes from main guitar riffs. The short guitar solo is shifted to major scale and that is kind of surprising delight from the mood change. This mood is similar to 7th track 'Used', very intensive heavy rhythm and riffs.

'Game of Life' is a great track with a catchy theme but decorated with heavy phrases. Seems like lighter keyboards and heavier guitar sounds are perfectly matched in this song. It has one of the best guitar solos in this album.

The other 3 tracks 'Reach Within', 'I Am' and 'The One' are a bit pop-oriented but still have some good changes in time signature and mood. Great guitar solo in all of those three tracks, and excellent keyboard solo on ' The One'.

A special note worth mention to Mats Haugen more and more powerful yet beautiful guitar works. His work is very rich, from the use of Phrygian scale, neo-classical elements, heavy riffs, fast and clean shredding and nice melody (somethimes surprisingly emerged out from a heavy phrase) .

This is a real good album for progressive metal fan. It has dark and heavy sound without loosing musical beauty. Even the guitar is dominant, the strength of the compositions, particularly 'Architect Of Fortune' and 'Burn After Reading' prove that CM is a great as a band.

 Isolate by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.75 | 190 ratings

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Isolate
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Mark-P

3 stars Wups.. I have a mixed feeling about this album. There are great progressive tracks in this album, but few other tracks are quite light.

Opening track 'A Darkened Mind' is my favourite track of this album. The song is opened by a killer guitar riff, anthemic but dark and heavy at the same time ? which sets the entire mood of the song. Great instrumental section in the middle of the song.

'Sane No More' is a great instrumental track with a lot of mood and tempo changes. Guitar and keyboards are dominating with many tasty phrases. This is a typical CM sounds that still resemble the 1st Chapter, that I really like.

'Mouth of Madness' is the epic track of the album. It lasts almost 13 minutes. The song theme is very nice, introduced in the beginning of the song by keyboards accompanied by acoustic guitar. After a verse, the song theme is played in darker sound and mood. Michael Eriksen voice is well explored in this song. There are several stunning guitar solos in the second half of the song.

'Ultimate Sacrifice' is a well structured 9-minute composition and has a lot of great elements : from the powerful intro, great guitar and keyboards solos and symphonic elements.

The rest of the songs are lighter in composition but still there are some good moments, particularly Mats Haugen guitar work that consistently gives a profound influence in the CM music. Overall it is a enjoyable album, but CM has shift a bit its orientation to be more simplistic musically.

 The 1st Chapter by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.82 | 205 ratings

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The 1st Chapter
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Mark-P

4 stars This is the debut album of Circus Maximus, released in 2005. I like the aggressive (in a very good sense) composition and symphonic (or perhaps neo-classical) elements in this album.

There are two long track in this album, with off course a lot of progressive elements such as tempo changes. The title track '1st Chapter' is a 19-minute long composition, loaded with great guitar works both in riffs and solos. 'Glory to the Empire' is another long (10-minute) track. It has a nice intro with melodic theme played by acoustic guitar and keyboards. This track has strong symphonic flavor and great guitar solo.

'Biosfer' is my favorite track, which I think showcases the musicianship of the band. This is around 5 and half minute instrumental track, densely packed with outstanding works of guitar, drums, bass and keyboards. There are mood and tempo changes, even the nature of the song is heavy in the beginning, but a bit symphonic on the ending.

'Imperial Destruction' is a track that present in the US Edition (which I happen to have). It has a softer moment (sort of a nice hook) among the dominant heavy tone. Great guitar solo. Quite different track compared to the rest.

This is a good debut album. I think it is fair for a progressive metal band to have some influence from earlier prominent band of the same genre. In my opinion, the song writing of this band is excellent. Every member of the band has a great musicianship, but Mats Haugen guitar work really stands out. His solo in 'Alive' is very nice and melodic and one of my favorite moment in this album. In 'Biosfer' and 'Sin', the guitar riff and solo are so powerful yet beautiful. Recommended album for progressive metal fans.

 Nine by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.90 | 179 ratings

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Nine
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars Very good album of these norwegian progressive metal, a little lighter in their compositional structures than the average of those associated with metal roots, but just as effective and very well assembled. The influence of Dream Theater is clear on this album, where at moments of the instrumental developments its presence is perceived. The songs maintain a fairly good level, very dynamic, where we can highlight Architect Of Fortune, and especially its introduction of more than 2 minutes, a demonstration of virtuosity in the midst of its development of dramatic atmospheres, a very well-made composition, and The Last Goodbye, the best song on the album, and the one that closes it in a very good way.

In my opinion Nine is the best production of Circus Maximus.

 Isolated Chapters by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2019
3.17 | 4 ratings

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Isolated Chapters
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Circus Maximus is a progressive metal band from Oslo Norway that was founded in 2000. The band has released 4 full length studio albums since that time, and released the EP "Isolated Chapters" in September of 2019. This EP contains two tracks that are not available elsewhere.

"Phasing Mirrors" (10:21) was written after the release of their 2nd album "Isolate" in 2007. Originally, it was planned as a bonus track for the album "Nine", but the band felt it didn't quite match the style of the other songs on the album. Several years later, the band decided to complete the track, and it is now available on this EP. There are some similarities to the "Isolate" album in that it has the same level of darkness in the music and it is also based around the song "Mouth of Madness". The music has that sound of dark and heavy guitars with the underlying synth. The beat alternates between mostly fast rhythms and slowing in some sections. The best part is in the instrumental breaks, as the vocals are a bit on the safe side. Later, there is a great mix of guitar and synth, the guitars bringing out the slower and heavier side of the track while the synth acts to brighten things up and usually is accompanied by faster drums. In the middle, there is an atmospheric keyboard riff and softer vocals followed by a nice, somewhat tortured guitar riff, then counterpunctual layered vocals. Some cool keyboard work follows accentuated by heavy guitar. It's a nice balance. Overall, the track is decent enough, nothing special, but enough there to keep lovers of hard prog happy. The male chorus later in the track is also a cool surprise.

The 2nd track is "Endgame" (7:38) which is a sort-of follow up to the track "Glory of the Empire" from the album "The 1st Chapter". This track begins with a sound that is more accessible and not as heavy, though there are some great guitar melodies there and an occasional progressive fill here and there. But it does kind of lack the power of the first track. The track could almost be radio ready, but is probably too long. However, it really isn't very challenging in a progressive way, maybe a bit lightweight, but a bit of a symphonic effect in the middle. It's good, just nothing to get real excited about.

This is one to keep the fans happy with some new music, but doesn't really hold much to keep a progressive fan happy. They are just good songs, but the price may be more than you want to pay for a couple of just decent tracks, unless you are a fan of the band, then you might be willing to part with 10 dollars for 18 minutes of music. Or you could get the "Nine Live" album which has both of these tracks now available as bonus tracks.

 Havoc by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.94 | 49 ratings

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Havoc
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

2 stars Prog metal recipe party

To start with a conclusion, and as a fellow reviewer mentioned, ''Havoc'' is suited more to the younger fans of progressive metal; an extremely well-put-together construct of standard recipe prog metal songs, with the required weight on the guitars and an extra dose of commercial vibe (or ''cheesiness'' if you prefer). A Coheed and Cambria metal version is not far off summarising the sound, but let's see what else is there.

Circus Maximus combine the Dream Theater/Queensryche-laden (albeit less complex) riffing, with Roy Khan-type melody vocals and compositions layered on mid tempos, akin to the style of Coldplay, Muse or U2 (good examples are Flames, Remember) and not far off the mood that the fellow Nords Von Hertzen Brothers manifest. Unfortunately, the one hour of music included here seems to be a waste of the band's (obvious) talent in aiming to create radio-friendly prog metal, to the point where the listener presses the ''skip'' button (title track). There are some better moments in ''Pages'' and glimpses of more elaborate songwriting in ''Loved Ones'' and ''After the Fire'' but these get subsumed in the general lightheartedness of the sound.

If you get excited by power-pop prog metal, then this could be for you - the rest can by-pass or give it a spin on a long summer drive (or a summer's night party).

2.5 stars

 Havoc by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2016
2.94 | 49 ratings

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Havoc
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Circus Maximus continue to evolve, from indulging the glossier aspects of Dream Theater prog metal sound to catering to the more popular sounds of today. On this, modern metal starts to creep into their musical palette with its deep bass grooves and stop-start riffs, and at the same time, more of the melancholic-yet-anthemic power pop that makes them sound sometimes as a heavier version of Coldplay. But unlike, say, their fellow Norwegians Leprous, the glories of old are not forgotten, as the catchy vocals and flashy solos are still prominently featured. Kind of like Architect of Fortune on their last album, they start off with The Weight that combines all of their influences into a neat 6-minute whole, while later going on to explore them in more detail. This would probably be oriented towards the more youthful demographic of prog metal fans.
 The 1st Chapter by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.82 | 205 ratings

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The 1st Chapter
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Promising debut from melodic power proggers in Circus Maximus. Production could use more range, and album does have some cute growth issues (youth maximalism), such as let's-outdo-everybody instrumental (which is actually not bad) and lets-write a 20- minute epic at all costs (which comes across as a poor Symphony X copy). But the album displays a supreme sense of melody, which usually take a couple of albums for other bands to achieve, and some tasteful playing, such as dark, but classy ballad Silence from Angels Above and a tasteful historical epic Glory of the Empire. Other than that, it features great rocker Sin, 80s metal influenced Alive, and more.
 Nine by CIRCUS MAXIMUS album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.90 | 179 ratings

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Nine
Circus Maximus Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

3 stars Circus Maximus is a talented melodic prog power band from Norway. The first thing I noticed on Nine, having listened to their other albums, is the overproduced sound. One could only wonder how many filters instruments went through to achieve this glossy, teenage-friendly wall of sound. Album is about evenly divided between longer, proggier songs and radio-friendly hits about such mainstream things as standing your ground and tragic romantic love. But don't worry, this is still prog, and metal, so you'll get the usual fix of a punchy sound, different musical approaches (an electronic beat, a blastbeat, a bluesy guitar and so on) and instrumental candy.
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