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CIRCLE OF ILLUSION

Progressive Metal • Austria


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Circle of Illusion biography
This band is led by keyboardist and composer Gerald PETER. They released their first epic piece of music that tells the story of ''Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms'' in 2013, dealing with the ambivalence of human emotion. The band's line-up is completed with Robert TRAEXLER on guitar, Stephan FOERST on bass, Aaron THIER on drums, Ulrike MUELLNER on the e-violin, Taris BROWN, Carole COLE and Elga SHAFRAN are the lead vocals of the band, who are representing the characters Jeremias, Jelena and Sarah.

The music of CIRCLE OF ILLUSION is on the border of a wide range of progressive style, from metal, to jazz-funk-soul and cinematic music. We can find some influences from the bands HAKEN, DREAM THEATER and NEAL MORSE. Gerald PETER has worked on this album since 2008. In 2010, he met the singer Taris BROWN with whom he worked on the story. In 2011, the band was formed with top musicians to perform and record the album.

Biography by rdtprog

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4.02 | 155 ratings
Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
2013

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CIRCLE OF ILLUSION Reviews


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 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Wow!!

When thinking about prog rock coming out of Austria you're thinking Eela Craig, Kyrie Eleison and maybe one or two more, it was never a prog rock homebase, so I can safely say that this is the best album I've heard coming out from there. But not only that, I also think it's one of the best albums released in 2013 and that is saying a lot. Jeremias is filled to the brim with 80 minutes of top notch prog metal and production that can easily set the bar for clever, precise, tight and ambitious composing. It would be quite difficult at first getting your head around this grand piece of work but with a worthwhile dedication after a few more listenings it's easy to get addicted to the ideas, the melodies and those first class riffs. I usually get tired with 80 minutes albums since they are not so coherent and contains some moments that are weaker than others, it's hard maintaining the same high level of ideas and keeping the album flowing without falling into a few traps. But here thanks to Gerald Peter's persistence and years of hard work, crafting every second until it's complete, this album is near by flawless.

I'm not sure how many people are getting excited by the term rock opera, I know it evokes titles such as Hair or Jesus christ superstar but although Jeremais is a prog rock opera it is miles away from those albums. It's much closer to other famous prog metal concept albums such as Scenes From A Memory, Operation Mindcrime, and Ayreon albums, but I must say this is bigger, richer and more complex. The strong side of this album and I don't think anyone can appeal on that is the high level of arrangements which is exemplary by any standard, it isn't like anything I've ever came across with really. Just check out the album's opener Overture and you'll have a good idea of what's to come. The songs are not divided between them but flow from one to the next as the concept evolves, some ideas come back as you would expect from a concept album but they are done differently without over grinding the motifs.

The album offers a delicious cocktail of prime prog metal with orchestral instruments (don't think of a full orchestra sound, it's mainly violins and horns), so what you get is mainly symphonic prog metal with the addition of funk, jazz and dare I say even a slight disco feel for the final touch, reminding me of Pain Of Salavation and of course Dream Theater. This is challenging prog metal packed with carefully constructed ideas full of life and drama, every riff every drum roll is in its place exactly in the right amount, guitars are not all the time riffing there's a good balance between heavy and calmer moments, and overall the music is progressive and constantly going forward.

Fans of the genre will lick their fingers of this sole release of Circle Of Illusion, this impressive work has shown how much talent Gerald Peter has in making this puzzle fit together so well, presenting such a high level of creativity and a knack for songwriting and orchestration. Too bad we haven't heard of this guy in so many years, 4 big stars and just shy of the fifth star.

 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Ovidiu

5 stars FABULOUS...FANTASTIC...SENSATIONAL!!!!It's impossible to start my review about this stunning album without usiong this adjectives ,because this masterpiece is simply unbelieveble !I didn't had such a great musical revelation since the killer TOWERS OF AVARICE by ZERO HOUR or THE EDGE by ETERNITY X-two albums that I simply adore!This one-JEREMIAS by the Austrian band CIRCLE OF ILLUSION is,by far,one of the most amazing debut albums in the history of progressive music!!!Definitelly-CIRCLE OF ILLUSION -is the best export musical act from Austria since...FALCO..or...EDENBRIDGE!!!The level of musicianship is unbelievebly high,the arrangements are beyond amazing and all this is the brain fruit of a heavanly talented musician named GERALD PETER-a true genius,musical genius!The timing of the album is impressive too-79.59...so 80 minutes of pure magic,a very strong musical rock opera,with all the ingredients that make this type of album,a true masterpiece-with great voices-both male and female voices-,marvelous keyboard and piano interventions,killer guitar solos,crunchy guitar riffs and intelligent long instrumental passages!!!!The clever mix of many different musical styles-from disco to power metal,from jazz to world music ,from vodevil to reggae-from prog metal to r'n'b music,passing by great piano interludes,but everything dressed in metal clothes ,long tracks performed by some wonderful vocalists -all this intelligent combination is made by Mr Gerald Peter ,which managed to combine everything into a monumental album that will shock by it's complexity and rich musical message!Talking about the aspect of the cd ,the impressive presentation is pushing us to say -WOW again!A stunning beautiful booklet with great drawings and a great look under all aspects ,it's simply outstanding,wonderful,gorgeous!!I cannot forget-I repeat this-that JEREMIAS is the debut album of this Austrian band,so I cannot imagine or guess...what will be the next step,because it seems to be so hard to make better than on this album?!?!CIRCLE OF ILLUSION has an andless potential and I feel that we'll be spoiled in the future with other great musical jewels like this one!A sincere BRAVO to the ambitious GENERATION PROG RECORDS from Germany,which grab the golden fish with this band,and invested in them with a serious,strong,professional sand well done promotion,well deserved by an unique band like CIRCLE OF ILLUSION!So,this is,definitelly,a rock opera for the XXI-st century,and shows that prog metal is a musical territory with no boundaries,or musical limits!!!5 stars without any hesitation!MILESTONE ALBUM-100 % MASTERPIECE!!
 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Approgximation

4 stars This Austrian arrangement, Circle Of Illusion's only production, 'Jeremias- Foreshadow Of Forgotten Realms' is a fantastical relief of musical wizardry. Something different, bold, embellishing more layers of technical genre than you can wave a stick at. Presented was an enthralling collaboration designed to illustrate the "ambivalence of human emotion". It's conceptually busy collaboration is made clear by a talented young composer Gerald Peter to create this "unique opus". Musically it genuinely does work well, it just had to, it was an album years in the making constructed on Peter's "love for small detail". The listener is almost immediately immersed into a 79.57 minute long, 11 track, theatre like atmosphere attuned to 'Phantom Of The Opera' alit with a complex of sound imaging. The album also felt 'exiting' to listen to, comparatively listening to Øresund Space Collective or the honoured existence of Jørn Lande-Ayreon-Avantasia Soundscaping is massively wide, peppered with colourful detail, so the album listens like a score of an action-adventure movie. At times, signature images of contemporary funk throb thru accompanied with wa-wa-whammy-bar. Brown's hand picked vocals dominate the scenery emphasising this is an epic story serious with intent when the character is presented, yet flaunting images of secondary character vocals make it a temperate and flexible album feeling like a warm personal theatre connection. Contemporary backing vocals by Cole and Shafran have an innocent approach, for one, an Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-Gathering) vocality, secondly complimenting the frequent funk appearances in between the musical 'scenes'. Frolicking in the background are combinations of 'YES' keyboard signatures right up to a dose of Progressive Jazz piano that keys out a conservative appearance. Even the appearance of a stylised Disney- Prince+Princess like album cover strongly hints to its very contents' nature. There seems little convincing that Peter's production was intentionally written on the premise of it being predominantly a 'progressive' composition. It feels rather more like a composition encompassing many formats and sound signatures. This is an honest album bravely rounding many popular yet well composed sounds into one engrossing experience. The experience could only be enhanced further by ones' privilege of seeing the production live. Really epic emotion served with a large helping of satisfaction come of this listen. Truly unique. It has to be a fantastic feeling when an ensemble can get emerge together and create this kind of high calibre, 'quality' music. This crew of 8 can look back with accomplishment at the creation of a pinnacle land marker.
 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Lesson learned: never judge an album by its cover. When I saw the album cover for Jeremias (Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms) by the Austrian symphonic outfit Circle of Illusion, I automatically assumed "low quality female fronted gothic metal." I was most certainly wrong. Circle of Illusion offers a disc full (literally) of powerful and interesting music, taking many familiar styles and blending them in marvelous ways. Hearing progressive metal of the caliber of Symphony X is one thing, having the film score inspired symphonic arrangements be of the highest quality is another, but mixing it all in with a heavy dose of disco funk and jazz was utterly surprising and brought a huge grin to my face time after time. Sure, there are other bands who have done symphonic prog metal with a variety of singers, and even bands who have mixed metal with jazz (particularly fusion), but I would be hard pressed to think of many that have done it on this level without feeling typically generic. Circle of Illusions offers interesting music that is attention grabbing, epic, bombastic, technical, and walks that line between serious and fun in the best of ways. And if that isn't enough, the epic 16 minute closer is a journey and a gem. You don't want to miss it.
 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Austrian band CIRCLE OF ILLUSION was officially formed in 2011, as a vehicle for the creative and conceptual ideas of composer and keyboardist Gerald Peter, a band that could bring life to his compositions and further develop them in execution as well. They were signed to the fledgling German label Generation Prog Records in 2013 for the release of their debut album "Jeremias: Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms".

Circle Of Illusion's debut album is an innovative, genre defying creation that will challenge your perceptions about music, about different styles of music, and how different or not different kinds of music actually are ? or not. The main foundation is progressive metal, with soundtrack, score music and disco thrown in as some of many additional flavors, placed within a conceptual context of the rock opera variety. A very well made album it is, as long as you have the open-minded curiosity needed to have your musical tastes challenged and a wide enough taste in music to take it all in. Highly recommended as far as I'm concerned, as long as you think you can fit that very specific description.

 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's just my luck to find an amazing album right AFTER the new year begins. I've been pondering this debut album from Circle of Illusion, "Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms", for a little while now. I honestly can't think of anything else quite like it. You see, this is a rock opera of sorts. It's a rather interesting and confusing story, but I believe that is the point. The story seems to deal with muddled human emotions. This comes across strongly in the music, too.

The part where Circle of Illusion really shines is their completely unique take on progressive metal. Sure, there's plenty of metal here. The guitars are dark and heavy, the drums are acrobatic and incredibly diverse, and the bass is very dynamic. However, on top of this metal framework, the band adds a huge helping of funk. Yes, sometimes it sounds like 70s funk, and sometimes it sounds more like soul or jazz fusion. All the same, however, this adds a whole new dimension to the music. But wait, there's more! For another layer, Circle of Illusion adds in mesmerizing violin and incredible, towering cinematic orchestrations. This is no small-time production: This is a spectacle of epic proportions.

Now, have you ever heard such a thing? Have you ever heard blazing metal mixed with soundtrack-worthy orchestral arrangements mixed with a funky groove or beat? Circle of Illusion makes this sound so incredibly natural. I couldn't believe it. Entire passages have a 70s funk groove, but the metal and the orchestra keep up easily. This is no boring rehash of every metal cliche you've ever heard. This is fresh and absolutely inviting. As I told my wife, I always seem to get in a great mood as soon as this album starts playing. It's exciting stuff.

So, let's go back to the musicians for a second. The level of difficulty here is immense. That doesn't automatically make it good, but this band manages to inject passion and love into their craft. "Acrobatic" describes more than the drums on this album. Every instrument performs fireworks and also delicate parts, too. We get the whole spectrum here. Now, I must mention the vocalists. There are three vocalists here, though you'll notice a single male voice and a single female voice more often than not. Usually on these types of albums, the vocals are lackluster. On "Jeremias", we get silky smooth male vox that remind me of Damian Wilson at times, and then powerful female vocals that are up there with the likes of Simone Simons. That's quite a compliment coming from me. These singers perform admirably, and they change their tones to match whatever type of music is playing. This is a class act, my friends.

So, move over Ayreon. In 2013, you were bested by new blood. This album is in every way more exciting, more original, and even more interesting than Ayreon's latest. With hints of Haken here and there, Circle of Illusion manages to wow me time after time. From the incredible arrangements of "Overture" to the absolutely stunning, funky "The Beginning" to the epic encounter, "New Age"; this album is something truly new and special. And, just when you think an eighty minute album will be too much, the album ends off with "Nightmare", a soaring and dark song that is freaky and irresistible at the same time. If you love progressive music of any caliber, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy of this riveting record.

 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by uribreitman

4 stars Fantastic release - deserves both titles: 1) Best Austrian prog of all time; 2) One of 2013's top prog albums. The level of arrangements is simply outstanding. The vocal parts and orchestral stuff is exemplary. A great album to buy and enjoy again and again - I really found it uber-fun, couldn't get eough of it, and some of the melodies keep haunting me everywhere I go. The only problem I had was with the actual storyline, which I found weak. I can forgive the Austrian accent, but the opera goes nowhere (nothing happens). I got the PDF booklet which was easy to read, but still didn't like the dramatic turn of events. However, it doesn't hurt the music itself, which is fabulous. Gerald Peter did awesome work here, he desrves a lot of credit. I would really want to get a DVD of the concert. And you know what they say in German: "Dieses Album wird in den Arsch treten".
 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

5 stars This is ambitious all right. A mish-mash of some sort of insane Broadway musical, metal, cheesy club music of the 70s (disco, soul, funk), a smorgasbord of keyboards ranging from the dreamy to Rick Wakeman-ish to electronic, multiple impressive vocalists. Not something you would expect from Austria. An unabashed old-school rock opera is what it is. And thank god, no growling or double kicks or gothic sopranos! In scope (but not in style) it approaches symphonic efforts by Haken or Dream Theater, although not as technically flashy.

And it's huge. Wait, a 16-minute song, three 9-minute, five 6-minute and a bunch of 3-minute interludes still fall under 80 minutes?! As is the case with mish-mash works such as this, the question is - does it all gel together? Well, more or less. It doesn't collapse under its own weight like Ayreon (that's why Arjen Lucasses writes about black holes and singularities, ha-ha). But tracks such as Continuum, The Run or New Age would have been killer songs if cut back a two minute of noodling.

A 4,5 stars. But since everybody inflate their ratings anyway, why not give them 5 for the effort and hard work?

 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A completely crazed neo-prog/retro-prog/progressive symphonic metal/avant-groove concept album with occasional funk disco moments, this debut from Circle of Illusion offers more genres than you'd find in an entire record shop, often within the bounds of a single song. Gerald Peter has assembled a compelling unit here comprising not just a finely honed band but also three (!) vocalists - Taris Brown, whose gentle delivery reminds me a little of Roine Stolt, and the powerful Cara Cole and Elga Shafran, each of whom takes the role of a different character in the story. The lyrics and story may come across a little cheesy - not to mention bizarre and over the top - but subtlety and restraint clearly aren't the order of the day here.

The end result is a fun, playful debut which reminds me of what might happen if Disco Volante-era Mr Bungle ended up listening to a lot of early Marillion and Pendragon at its best points. However, it doesn't quite stand up to repeated listens as well as it could, and with the passage of time I found myself drawn back to it less and less. It has much of the usual issues of bands who want to come across as "progger than prog", in that the technical flashiness ends up a little empty and coherent songwriting, storytelling and the development of emotional mood and atmosphere end up suffering just because someone wanted to add a quirky little bit here or there.

 Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms by CIRCLE OF ILLUSION album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 155 ratings

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Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms
Circle of Illusion Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

3 stars This is an album that is going to have two quite different responses. There are those who are going to rave about it (I was approached by someone who told me that I had to listen to this as these guys were the new Haken!), and there are others that will feel that in many ways it is just too clever for its' own good. Guess which camp I fall into? This is an album that I have actually enjoyed less the more I have played it, and I am sure that this is because instead of seeing this rock opera as an incredible piece of art I instead see it as an opportunity missed. That the three singers are wonderful vocalists, that the songs are incredibly structured and well played is never in doubt, but there are just too many forms and styles of music being brought in that I just don't like.

There are times when this crosses into funk and disco, and that annoying music you used to get in the cinema when they were about to play the adverts. It can come across as really cheesy 70's pap, but there are other times when the jaw just hits the table when listening to the speed and interplay between all those involved. These guys can really blast it out, in perfect unison, and when they soar then this is just stunning. But, and it is a fairly big but, they just bring in all these other elements that for me really drop the album instead of lifting it. Highly arranged and incredibly well played, this should be a 5* review, but it isn't. I realise that I am probably in a minority of one, but then that's nothing unusual. I would love to rate this more highly as there is so much promise within it, but there are also huge chunks where the Vegas lounge is just too much for me.

Thanks to aapatsos for the artist addition.

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