Artist:  Circus Maximus
   Title: Nine
   Label: Frontiers Records

'Nine' has to be one of the most anticipated albums over recent years and five years in the making, the wait is well worth it, because Circus Maximus have come up with an quite astounding slice of Melodic Progressive Metal.

Unlike the bands first two albums, there seems to be more of Melodic edge to proceedings.  Yes the progressive power metal is still there, but there is also a maturity to the album which makes it stand out for its predecessors.

The album opens up in true Prog Metal style with the inevitable intro ‘Forging’, itself 77 seconds of musical joy which lays down the foundations for the rest of the album.

To be honest this was an album that I found hard to get into, but I find that with most albums of this genre, but with repeated listens and it soon grew on me.

As the album opens up proper with ‘Architect of Fortune’ from here on in it's pure gold.  The haunting drum beat of Truls Haugen and choral backing vocals set the mood, before the guitars of Mats Haugen and the soaring keyboards of Lasse Finbråten lay the way for the stunning vocals of Michael Eriksen, which take the track to a whole new level.  Coming in at just under ten and a half minutes, you lose all sense of time as you're taken on the musical journey of your life, and this is just the opening salvo, things just progress to greater heights as the rest of the album unfolds.

'Nameste' unleashes a heavier tone to proceedings with a great emphasis on bigger bolder bass lines and harder guitars, with the keyboards kept somewhat in the background.  There is even a harsher more angst feel to Eriksen’s vocals, but there is still a great Prog element running through this one to keep the diehard fans happy.

It's over to ‘Game Of Life’ that falls on the Melodic Metal sound that the fans will be more familiar with from the previous albums, with Eriksen at his vocal best, while Haugen unleashes one of the best solo’s of the album on this one.

The tempo is brought down a touch with the stunning ‘Reach Within’, which starts off from humble beginnings but builds on this humble start into one of my favourites of the album.  Definitely single material, before bringing a Melodic Rock edge with the excellent ‘I Am’, one for lovers of keyboard flurries this one, on which Finbråten lays waste to the ivories on this song.

The heavy bass lines come flooding back with a vengeance on the pounding Metal of ‘Used’ and the storming Melodic Metal tones of ‘The One’.  These two lead up to the final two tracks, two epic masterpieces that will just blow you away.

First up is ‘Burn After Reading’, this one builds from a acoustic guitar and Eriksen and then metal elements just come storming in leaving the listener blindsided but not in a bad way.  If I had to pick one track that depicts the true sound of Progressive Metal, than this one fits the bill nicely.  It ebbs and flows between vocals, drums, guitars and keyboard with military precision and has more twists than a bucket full of snakes.

The album closes in similar fashion with ‘Last Goodbye’, again a song of epic proportions this time builds up from a gentle keyboard and acoustic guitar intro before the electric guitars take precedence and the melodic tones are taken over by a more metal tone.  A real stella track to close out what will no doubt be regarded as one of the Prog Metal albums of the year.  Like I said earlier, this one took me a couple of listens to get into because it wasn’t the album I was expecting, but I’ve grown to love it and I’m sure you all will too.

Review by: Barry McMinn

Tracklisting:

1. Forging
2. Architect Of Fortune
3. Nameste
4. Game Of Life
5. Reach Within
6. I Am
7. Used
8. The One
9. Burn After Reading
10. Last Goodbye

                   

 

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