Circus Maximus premiered in 2005 (has it been that long?) with the stunning 'The First Chapter.' This was a nearly flawless combination of progressive rock and metal. Hopes for an equally satisfying sophomore effort are fulfilled with 'Isolate,' another work of complex compositions, pleasing melodies, and terrific vocal stylings.
After listening to this great album, several important characteristics stand out. One is Michael Eriksen's incredible vocals; his range is varied and his delivery smooth. His voice gives Circus Maximus an almost AOR feel. A second noteworthy attribute is the single-minded cohesion of the band: this is a very tight band. Third, the production is nearly impeccable: all players gel together in unison, yet all are heard with clarity. Finally, being a fan of great guitar work, I am again impressed with Mats Haugen, a superb and passionate musician. He needs more recognition in the genre.
Circus Maximus again includes several longer songs where the members stretch their collective musical talents. Both 'Mouth Of Madness' and 'Ultimate Sacrifice' are great pieces of prog metal, the later being a little edgier and more clever than the former. Other favorite songs include 'Wither,' 'Arrival Of Love,' and 'Zero.' Also, take particular note of the instrumental piece 'Sane No More' where Haugen and new keyboardist Lasse Finbraten rip it up in a dynamic exchange.
It's hard for any band to build upon the success of a great debut. Yet, Circus Maximus has done it and done it very well. My hope is that Circus Maximus are here to stay. Buy this album and enjoy!
It's hard for any band to build upon the success of a great debut. Yet, Circus Maximus has done it and done it very well. My hope is that Circus Maximus are here to stay.