Words: Craig Hartranft
They're making progress. This time around, for their fourth album Havoc, it only took Circus Maximus four years to release the album. Previously, the record was a five year gap. But, as usual it's worth the wait. Circus Maximus delivers another solid album of melodic progressive metal.
Perhaps it's not correct to call the Circus Maximus sound entirely metal. It's more a juxtaposition of progressive rock and metal, lighter and heavier sounds, between songs, sometimes within the same song. For instance, Highest Bitter and Havoc are two of the heaviest songs of the bunch with next to no lighter moments or segues. Both have a deeper sound and groove, the latter some harder riffage and stinging guitar work. Alternatively, The Weight displays that juxtaposition with obvious heavier riffage and groove, then lighter moments often in the vocal arrangements, but also in the guitar segue at the midpoint. The section sounds like a blend of classic guitar lines with jazz fusion. If there's a song generally lighter throughout, it's likely Chivalry, which turns mostly on the vocal arrangement and guitar harmony and simple rock groove.
Later in the album is After The Fire, likely one of the singular numbers that's more subtle in the unfolding of the arrangement, with some heavier, sharper, moments like the riffage and beat around the two minute mark. Then later, beginning around the five minute mark, the heaviness gives way to another masterful display of fusion, led by the guitar and drums. It's one of the best two and half minutes within the album. But that's just to say that Circus Maximus are simply good songwriters, and Mats Haugen is an exceptional guitar player. And, additionally, vocalist Michael Eriksen continues to be one of the most melodic and graceful voices in the progressive music. His tone and timbre softens even the most heavy moments of any song, adding more depth to any song at the same time.
It all adds up to one conclusion: Circus Maximus's Havoc is another creative and entertaining album of melodic progressive metal which, undoubtedly, will satisfy the most demanding connoisseur. Easily recommended.
Circus Maximus's Havoc is another creative and entertaining album of melodic progressive metal, which undoubtedly satisfy the most demanding connoisseur. Easily recommended.
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