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Circus Maximus The 1st Chapter

By Mark "The World Eater" Morton, Contributor
Monday, June 27, 2005 @ 0:23 AM


(Sensory)

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Where the hell did this come from? This CD completely took me by surprise. Not since Symphony X’s magnificent The Odyssey has this reviewer been so deeply moved by a progressive metal CD.

Hailing from Norway, Circus Maximus has crafted an energetic, thought-provoking 9-track epic that is actually an enjoyable listen on multiple levels. Almost like being able to exist on various dimensions simultaneously, The 1st Chapter seems to have been designed to appeal to a metalhead’s simplistic sensitivities with ample barrages of thick chuggage, an ‘80s rocker’s urge for soulful melody and ‘big-note’ choruses, the metal technician’s clinic in rebellious time signatures (a la early Meshuggah) and the progressive rocker’s affinity for sonic astrophysics.

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Their songwriting is tempered quite evenly, so as not to digress too strongly in any one of the directions, so there does exist a level of accessibility for this wider range of audience. Listening to Circus Maximus is like watching Ray Harryhausen’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad – yeah, you’ve seen something like it before, but it has a stylish charm that borders between extraordinary innovation and childlike wonder.

Bringing together the heaviest, unprejudiced and ingenious music-writing motifs of the likes of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, Ayreon and the previously-noted Symphony X, Circus Maximus can easily consider itself in excellent company. To be perfectly blunt, it’s almost sickening that The 1st Chapter is the band’s debut album! Seriously, if this disc is as professional and incredibly defined as it is, I truthfully hope they can retain this level of competence on the follow-up, whenever that may be.

* * * * ½


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