Circus Maximus - Nine
Frontiers Records
Melodic Progressive Rock/Metal
10 songs (57:30)
Release year: 2012
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Thomas
Circus Maximus pretty much took on the role of sole heir to the progressive metal throne with the brilliant Isolate and they sailed up past a dwindling Pagan´s Mind. The paralells were drawn, and they wore their Dream Theater-influences shamelessly on their sleeves, but it was still too good to be cast off as another mere clone of the titans from New York. Compared with their debut, Isolate was a bit more available, slightly more catchy and loaded with some really insane hooks. Nine takes this further, and, to be honest, when I first heard the single Reach Within I was instantly skeptical. Suffice to say, expectations for this one is really high, can they meet them with poppy prog metal?

Well, no. I’ll say right away that this isn’t as good as their previous efforts. The pop/rock influence is extremely distinct in both songs and lyrics as the melody almost drowns everything else out in songs like Reach Within, I Am and even The One. Some would say barely metal, and while I tend to agree, luckily this isn’t always so.

Saying that this is a bad album based on songs like those I mentioned is however outright wrong. This album kicks off with a blast (Forging excluded). Architect of Fortune is a huge song colored by immensely epic melodies, great riffs and a stunning vocal performance. It´s all things progressive and will certainly draw you in. Personally I don’t care much for the following Namaste which I’ll easily classify as one of the worst songs these guys have ever done. It’s however quickly forgotten when Game of Life enters and sets the standard for pretty much the rest of the album. It’s relatively short but packed with attractive build-ups, climaxing choruses and slick leads.

This is a capable bunch of guys, but there is one who stands out like a bull amongst veals and that is Michael Eriksen. His voice is fantastic, and fits everything Circus Maximus do like a glove. He resembles Roy Khan in the manner of being both tender and explosive. His great range will also blow you away song after song after song.

So where’s the metal? Well you won´t get anything remotely close to Sin or Abyss. This tends to be dominated by cheery choruses and cliche lyrics, yet there are some lovely heavy outbursts in nearly every tune. In addition, songs like the absolutely brilliant Used and album highlight Burn After Reading will have you throw the horns and bang your head. Especially the latter contains a significant section consisting of furious Opeth-like riffs (before they turned to shit), blastbeats, and great solos.

Nine consists of no more than whiffs of Dream Theater, Rush and yes even older Opeth compared to Isolate. With subtle yet solid efforts they are launching themselves into a direction that resembles melodic prog rock more than anything. If you expect another Isolate, you won´t get it, but this is still a good fucking album even if it’s a bit stripped down.

This is a metal album but the influences are diminishing, leaving us somewhat clueless as to where these guys are headed next as the Yes-like outro of Last Goodbye plays us out. Will it be heavier, or will they drop it down one more notch? Time will tell, but go get this anyway, as I’m sure most prog heads will enjoy it as I eventually did.

Killing Songs :
Architect of Fortune, Game of Life, Used, Burn After Reading
Thomas quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Circus Maximus that we have reviewed:
Circus Maximus - Havoc reviewed by Joel and quoted 82 / 100
Circus Maximus - Isolate reviewed by Ben and quoted 90 / 100
Circus Maximus - The 1st Chapter reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
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