Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


Circus Maximus

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Circus Maximus The 1st Chapter album cover
3.82 | 216 ratings | 37 reviews | 33% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sin (5:53)
2. Alive (5:38)
3. Glory of the Empire (10:27)
4. Biosfear (5:22)
5. Silence from Angels Above (4:07)
6. Why Am I Here (6:05)
7. The Prophecy (6:44)
8. The 1st Chapter (19:08)
9. Haunted Dreams (7:10)

Total Time: 69:54

Swapped track on US edition:
9. Imperial Destruction (6:30)

Line-up / Musicians

- Michael Eriksen / lead & harmony vocals
- Mats Haugen / guitar, backing vocals
- Espen Storø / keyboards, sampler
- Glen Møllen / bass
- Truls Haugen / drums, percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Mattias Norén

CD Frontiers Records ‎- FR CD 240 (2005, Europe)
CD Sensory ‎- SR3026 (2005, US) With a different track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy CIRCUS MAXIMUS The 1st Chapter Music

CIRCUS MAXIMUS The 1st Chapter ratings distribution

(216 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(33%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

CIRCUS MAXIMUS The 1st Chapter reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by King of Loss
3 stars This is Circus Maximus' debut album. It features a sound very much like Symphony X's and Dream Theater's sound, but manages to stay brilliant. Ignore all the negative, bashing reviews of Circus Maximus above me and read this one.

We first start off with their epic, The First Chapter. It is a brilliant 19 minute track that sounds somewhat like the Odyssey, but still manages to stay original-sounding. The track goes around Neo-Classical orchestrations and brilliant instrumentations that at times surpass what a Neo-Classical powerhouse like Symphony X and Adagio can do. This is perhaps one of my favorite tracks released this year along with Lazarus, Octavarium, Ghost of Perdition and among others. This is a very special song and shows promise in this Norwegian Progressive Power Metal band.

Now Let's look at all the individual songs:

1. Sin- A very good, heavy opener with a very good NeoClassical solo passage. Catchy and heavy at the same time. 4/5

2. Alive- This is where the obvious "Power Metal" influence comes in, the chorus sounds very catchy and powerful at the time. The singer is no Russell Allen ( Symphony X) , but gets the job done very well. 4/5

3.Glory of The Empire- This song is the other epic in this album. It measures about 10 minutes long and during its time, it manages to bring us off into a new land. Great song 5/5

4. Biosfear- A great little instrumental here, highly reminiscent of parts of Metropolis and the Dance of Eternity, but without all the solos. 5/5

5. Silence From the Angels Above 4/5

6. Why Am I Here 3/5

7. The Prophecy 3/5

8. The First Chapter 5/5

9. Imperial Destruction- A great ending tune, somewhat like Symphony X's Divine Wings of Tragedy. 3/5

This album might lack amazing vocals and original songwriting, but it isn't a bad album at all. In fact, this album might be one of the top 10 Prog releases of this year. Great album and we see a great future with them.

Review by AtLossForWords
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.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An excellent chapter to embark the band's musical career .!

If I judge this album by its cover, I might have thought that this is an album by a band similar to ARENA. Why? It's because of the cover artwork which reminds me to the cover artwork of ARENA "The Visitor" album. But .. I knew this album after I'm satisfied with the band's second album "Isolate" which sounds excellent, musically, to my ears. Well, as I understand from Circus Maximus "Isolate" album I can then predict the kind of music presented by this band. The album has good "drive" and "enthusiasm" for the music that the band has made. The opening track "Sin" (5:53) is definitely an excellent track with great combination of riffs, melodic singing as well as tempo changes. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is cool. The next track "Alive" (5:38) brings the music in similar vein with its opening track but in slower (a bit) tempo. The transition pieces presented by keyboard work is quite interesting.

"Glory of the Empire" (10:27) gives a very nice break with an acoustic guitar work accompanied by bass guitar and keyboard. The long introduction completely ignores the perception that this is a progressive metal band because the first 2 minutes is like any symphonic prog music. But after minute 2 the music moves in crescendo and vocal enters the music followed beautifully with piano work. Now the music is like a combination of prog metal and symphonic music. It's a nice composition and I like the vocal quality. "Biosfear" (5:22) is completely a prog metal tune with fast tempo and pulsating keyboard work as well as guitar riffs and melody. The style of the music changes dramatically from one segment to another which makes this album is "prog" in nature. It's an excellent instrumental track.

"Silence from Angels Above" (4:07) starts beautifully with nice acoustic guitar fills which later accompanies vocal line in low register notes. It's quite odd actually because until previous track te vocal line was performed in high register notes. But this album has powerful melody and chorus line which is nice to enjoy. There is some work of mellotron-like sound. "Why Am I Here" (6:05) brings the music back into its uplifting mode with its progressive metal style.

The title track "The 1st Chapter" (19:08) offers a music in prog metal vein with many changes in style and tempo at the opening part followed with music in symphonic style. The music flows wonderfully and the vocal line enters only after minute 4 of the song. The combined work of guitar riffs, pulsating keyboard work, dazzling drums and powerful vocal line has made this song attractive, especially for those who like Dream Theater, Symphony X, Kamelot, etc. The piano solo in the middle of the track is nice, influenced by classical music. It's an excellent track to conclude the album. My version has additional track "Imperial Destruction" (6:30) (exclusive bonus track for Europe).

Overall, it's a truly excellent progressive metal album with tight composition and heavily influenced by classical music. Much of the arrangement reminds me to the prog met bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Maybe the best prog metal album in the year 2005!A true masterpiece!A hymn in complicated,technical,well orchestrated and keyboard/guitar dominated music!And an excellent voice,one of the best I have ever heard...Try ''The 1st chapter''...Maybe the album which even the gods of prog DREAM THEATER would be proud of makin'...
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Circus Maximus first album the 1st Chapter came as a surprise to me, as I had never heard of the band before, and I´m usually pretty well informed.

The music that is featured on the album is high quality Prog metal with heavy leanings toward Dream Theater but with a power metal edge ( especially the choruses). Now I like when people make the kind of music they really want, in this case I just feel that there is no originality in the music and if you listen to a song like SIN it almost sound like Dream Theater´s New Millinium other places they sound like Symphony X. But you can´t take away from these guys that they can play and sing. As such there is nothing wrong with the compositions either, I just feel they lend to much from others.

As I understand it their new album should be a little darker in the sound, which I am looking forward to. I hope they in time will find their own style within this extremely overcrowded genre.

Good but not essential. If you are a Dream Theater or Symphony X fan who can´t get enough, this might be something for you.

Review by ProgBagel
3 stars Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter 3.8 stars

This is one of the few bands that actually deserve the title of 'DT-Clones', but don't forget to put a huge portion of Symphony X in there too. The line-up consists of Michael Eriksen on vocals, Mats Haugen on guitar, Truls Haugen on drums, Espen Storø on keys and finally Glen Cato Møllen on bass. This album is a perfect mix of Scenes and The Odyssey, done exceptionally well. The guitar and keyboard sound will blow you away; the solos are very crafty once again reminiscent of Symphony X and Dream Theater. The thing I liked most about this band was obviously a perfect blend of the aforementioned bands, but also they unique melodies and excellent chorus work done. The singer in particular is one of the reasons why the choruses sound so exuberant. He has a pretty decent voice even though he sings in a sort of power metal vein, but not the bad kind. Even on my least favorite tracks on the album, I still find the chorus work done to be stellar. There are two tracks in particular that too similar to Dream Theater and Symphony X tracks. 'Biosphere' as exactly like 'The Dance of Eternity' and the title track is so very similar to 'The Odyssey'. Still 'Biosphere' was an excellent instrumental while the title track was very lacking.

Most of the songs on here are very well done and composed. There are still a few tracks that don't hold too much steam, but there is nothing too terrible about this album, except possibly the title track. Otherwise every song on the album is pretty good and then there are some that are really kick-ass. I would recommend this to any fans of Dream Theater and Symphony'll find something nice on this one. Prog-metal fans in general shouldn't be too afraid to get this either. If you are a DT hater stay far away, you'll hate this one too and if not a prog-metal fan in general, then look the other way.

I'm looking very forward to the second chapter. This was a great album.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The 1st Chapter' - Circus Maximus (7/10)

This was quite a shock. Few bands release actual masterpieces that rank up there were the other essentials of the genre. Circus Maximus has somehow managed to do this on their first time up to bat, and 'The 1st Chapter' is certainly a record that vies for that title.

What more could one want from a progressive metal record? There are strange time signatures, virtuosic performances, fast songs, short songs, and of course; an epic to top it off. Keeping in mind that the members of this band were all in their early-mid twenties at the time of making this album, you have to wonder, 'how the hell did they manage this?'

Mike Eriksen (the vocalist) was a singer who's voice I loved from the second I heard it, and is the heart and soul of the band. He's a vocalist I honestly find sharper and more elegant than even alot of the prog metal greats, such as Russell Allen (Symphony X) or even James LaBrie (Dream Theater.)

Circus Maximus, while obviously not being completely ground breaking in terms of style (they bear striking similarities to Symphony X in terms of musical style and content) but they inject something into the music that seems to have been long forgotten in the progressive metal world; melody. The centre of their songs is always in the melody, and that really helps to enrich their music in a genre that runs the risk of becoming dry.

A young classic. I can only say I am excited to see what they release in the future.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I had a lot of fun with this release this past week. This is Prog-Metal but we get a taste of Power-Metal at times, although for me this is more about being melodic, epic and technical. It's just a blast to listen to. This Norweigian band thanks fellow Norwegian's PAGAN'S MIND in the liner notes.They make a good pair. This was recorded in various studios in Norway then mixed at "Jailhouse Studios" in Denmark by Tommy Hansen. I have to mention how good the lyrics are on this album as well.

"Sin" has this heavy and oh so impressive intro. Vocals a minute in, keys a minute later. Nice and heavy again 3 1/2 minutes in followed by a fantastic guitar solo. Cool lyrics too. "Alive" sounds really good when it settles and the reserved vocals come in.The guitar / drum melody sounds amazing 3 1/2 minutes in and at 4 minutes. "Glory Of the Empire" is probably my favourite song on here. Again just reading the lyrics is a treat.The intro is laid back and we get some outstanding atmosphere. It starts to get powerful 2 minutes in. Great sound ! It settles somewhat as vocals come in. Synths and piano come and go. A brief calm arrives after 6 minutes then check out the guitar solo after 7 1/2 minutes as the heaviness returns. "Biosphere" is the only instrumental on here. Thunderous drums come in quickly followed by a nice guitar led section before a minute. Some good variety in this one. "Silence From Angels Above" opens with thunder and rain as acoustic guitar comes in followed by vocals. This is a ballad-like tune but I like it.

"Why Am I Here" is ohhh so heavy but it settles when the vocals arrive but it's still crunchy. Love the chorus. "The prophesy" opens with strummed guitar and reserved vocals. Piano after a minute. It gets heavy before 2 1/2 minutes then settles back 2 minutes later with piano. It's heavy again. Haha. "The 1st Chapter" is the 19 minute closer ! This is a ride folks.Orchestral intro is blown away by ripping guitar, synths and drums 2 minutes in. Vocals 4 1/2 minutes in. Very heavy 6 1/2 minutes in as vocals stop. A calm before 9 minutes with piano and reserved vocals. Kicks back in before 10 1/2 minutes. Tasteful guitar after 11 minutes. Great sound before 13 1/2 minutes. Vocals follow. A circus-like melody ends it.

I can't give this less than 4 stars. Excellent musicianship and lyrics, besides like I said earlier this is too much fun.

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2448355) | Posted by Mark-P | Thursday, September 17, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1161240) | Posted by Progrussia | Monday, April 14, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Circus Maximus is a group that I approached with a little of hesitation, both because most of the post-1990 metal leaves me uninterested, if not disgusted (yes, I'm still stuck in the 80s when it comes to Metal, I must admit), and because some confused and superficial listening I gave made the ... (read more)

Report this review (#835276) | Posted by Ytse_Jam | Tuesday, October 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A good debut album by Circus Maximus with great musicianship. But I have to agree with some reviews before me that the music is all to familiar and can be an underwhelming experience if you have already heard things like Symphony X and Dream Theater before it as it takes almost all of it's influ ... (read more)

Report this review (#370188) | Posted by topographicbroadways | Sunday, January 2, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I would give to this album all the five stars, but they miss in some originality, but still, they made a very unique album, whit theyre own sound. The album has a sound like the "Metropolis pt 2", but with some differences: as MP2 likes to use the "solos", this album likes more the "band" sound ... (read more)

Report this review (#154803) | Posted by CGH Tompkins | Saturday, December 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars An excellent cross between Dream Theater and Symphony X, you can hear the influence from both of the bands. Circus Maximus has some good heavy rhythms to dish out on this album and presents alot of potential for thier heavy metal progressive career. They have plenty of room for improvement but ... (read more)

Report this review (#94033) | Posted by Xeroth | Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Well, not original but really good, that's my summary of this record. With great variety and skills and the sound of DT and Symphony X this would have been a 5 if it brought something new, but it doesn't. On the other hand, if you like "classical" prog metal you won't be disapointed. Of course ... (read more)

Report this review (#91461) | Posted by Wenhov | Saturday, September 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 simpl ... (read more)

Report this review (#88545) | Posted by ValhallFR | Wednesday, August 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Surfing on the web the past year, I discovered a new Prog Metal band from Norway which had a lot of recognition on some websites, Circus Maximus. So, I decided to check out what they do. First of all, the feeling I have about this band (and most of new Prog Metal bands) is that I wasn't hearin ... (read more)

Report this review (#79548) | Posted by Barla | Saturday, May 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The trouble I have with prog-metal is that so many bands in the genre often descend into too much metal and not enough prog with tracks that could be from any decent metal album. Circus Maximus avoid this failing. Although they produce metal sounds as heavy as anyone, the prog factor is high, ... (read more)

Report this review (#75792) | Posted by dmwilkie | Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have mixed emotions about this album. As stated in previous reviews, the Dream Theater and Symphony X parallels are blatently obvious, but for some reason one can look past that and enjoy this album none the less. What Circus Maximus have given us is a truly enjoyable prog-metal album. Every ... (read more)

Report this review (#72934) | Posted by blue powder 777 | Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Definitely the big surprise of 2005 this young band from Norway. The album was probably the best album which was released during 2005 along with Octavarium. The band combines influences of Dream Theater,Symphony X and TNT but still keeps writing a fresh and unique prog metal. The music is ver ... (read more)

Report this review (#70805) | Posted by | Wednesday, March 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well first off i was kinda weirded out to hear that a band was named Circus Maximus let alone found out they were prog metal. I was afraid it was gonna be one of them weird bands that would have nothing but circus sounds BOY I'M GLAD I WAS WRONG haha this CD IS AWESOME probably one of my favor ... (read more)

Report this review (#70382) | Posted by Progdrummer05 | Thursday, February 23, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This sounds like a very strong debut to me and i'm going to be listening very closely for the follow up. Dream Theater and Symphony X are two very different sounding bands, both who could feel justifiably proud of a new album like this. I think anyone attempting to combine such influences shou ... (read more)

Report this review (#64437) | Posted by | Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I don't believe it was in their mind to reinvent prog metal when they made this album. And they haven't done that either. One the other hand I certainly think that this is a very strong debut album that they are showing the prog metal fans. Indeed it's reminding us of DREAM THEATER and SYMPHON ... (read more)

Report this review (#58862) | Posted by | Friday, December 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Great!! I am a Dream Theater fan and I love progressive, epic, metal, ecc. The first impression I had listening Circus Maximum's first album was: very good!! Their sound is quite close to Dream Theater's for me, so was not so difficoult to bring Circus Maximum with me in my car, with my favourite ... (read more)

Report this review (#57108) | Posted by | Sunday, November 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Every song on this album is absolutely amazing. The truth is, I hated this album on my first two listens but as time progressed and I listened more and more to it (after I was about to give up on it completely) I realised "hey, this ain't so bad!" and I just kept listening to it over and over ... (read more)

Report this review (#54244) | Posted by | Tuesday, November 1, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Circus Maximus in their debut album don't seem to impress me very much.This album is an example of mix between Symphony X and Shadow Gallery.All guitar riffs and keyboards are good but very close to Symphony Xs' songs, i mean heavy riffs and oriental structures of music.On the other hand ther ... (read more)

Report this review (#53584) | Posted by fred84 | Thursday, October 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Circus Maximus is a progressive metal band formed by the Haugen brothers, who appear on guitar (Mats) and Drums (Trus), Mats' old school buddy Glen Moller on bass, Michael and the mastermind Espen Storo on keyboards. They're from Norway, who has given us great progressive bands like Ark and Pa ... (read more)

Report this review (#52884) | Posted by | Sunday, October 23, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Well, what a joke... The vocals aren't bad they are just some kind of ennerving and don't really fit into the music. The style is too less self-contained. There are too many "inspired" things or even copied things. Listen to "Why am I here?"... Strangely it sounds the same as Symphony X's "Wic ... (read more)

Report this review (#52038) | Posted by W.Chuck | Sunday, October 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of CIRCUS MAXIMUS "The 1st Chapter"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.