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Circus Maximus - 'Nine' (frontiers) 4/5

Prog metal time again, and this time its Norways own Circus Maximus in the spotlight with this their third studio outing.

Now this is a pretty slick and impressive offering from Michael Eriksen and his band of slick power prog metallers, ten cuts, each a well penned, played and produced slice of musical edification that marks this lot out as leading players in the well populated field of European prog metal.

Once you get past the obligatory short intro track you get into the real stuff, first up there's the impressive Architect of Fortune a 10 minute plus epic that manages to be involved and complex yet avoids the Dream Theater style pomposity and self indulgence. Other highlights include the maidenesque Namaste, the huge and uplifting anthem of Reach Within, and the pair of epic closing tracks, the nine minute Burn After Reading with its superb interplay between guitarist Mats Haugen and keys man Lasse Finbråten; and the ten minute plus The Last Goodbye with its long and glorious build up into a breath taking Yes influenced finale. All in all, damn fine stuff indeed.

Now all the prog metal tick boxes are met on this one; complex riff structures, tempo and key changes, huge soundscapes, deep lyrics, Yes style harmony vocals, huge choruses.... Yet there is more to the Circus Maximus sound than the traditional European prog metal cliches, theres an almost AOR / Stadium rock feel in places here, and Circus Maximus are all the better for that it gives them an accessibility many of their contemporaries lack and a sound that will win them friends beyond the hard core prog metal audience.

Over all a good and very listenable record that stand up to repeated listening.

Worth a spot purchase

For fans of.. Opeth, Yes, Royal Hunt, Dignity, Fates Warning, Dream theater....

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