Circus Maximus - Havoc
Frontiers Records
Melodic Progressive Rock/Metal
9 songs (55:00)
Release year: 2016
Frontiers Records
Reviewed by Joel
So Norway's Circus Maximus was seen as the next big progressive metal giant, after the releases of the 1st Chapter and especially Isolate. With Nine the band went in a new direction, alienating or surprising many fans with the change. Being a lot more accessible and less progressive to some(IE: slower and less complex). While some of that may be true, it isn't the whole truth. Bands are allowed to progress and evolve, and in doing so you alienate and sometimes lose fans, other times fans gain a new appreciation for the group taking a risk. For myself, I missed the complex song structures and ten minute plus epics, like Glory of Rome, Mouth of Madness or even Ultimate Sacrifice. Though with that longing for those songs, lets not forget songs like Arrival of Love, which sounds more AOR then progressive or power metal. So with Havoc, has Nine sent the standard for the “New” Circus Maximus?

With the first song, The Weight, you do get one of the best songs on the entire disc, that shows off the dynamic and always emotive vocals of Michael Eriksen. If it was not for his vocals on some of the songs on Nine, a few of them songs have fallen flat. Through the six minutes plus of the song, the song takes a few musical detours, gets heavy, gets soft, and for the most part stays mid tempo and melodic otherwise. The next two songs, Highest Bitter and the title track, take the band in a direction that could definitely raise a few eyebrows. The choruses and Eriksen will remind you this is Circus Maximus, while the title track might make you think the band, Muse, would be proud to hear. Pages is more melodic, with a few flourishes of down tuned riffs at the of the chorus. The musicianship is clean and proficient, the vocals per usual, carry the song. The short instrumental section after the three minute and second mark, is among some of my favorite instrumental parts of the entire disc. Remember my earlier mention of an AOR vibe, you can find that on Flames. An ethereal type song, that isn't all soft, yet is in no way loud or heavy. Flames could have fit easily on Nine between Game Of Life and Reach Within. I really enjoyed the palm-muted guitar riffs in contrast to the other melodic parts of the song. One of the best songs, if you are looking for a mixture of dynamics and melodic hooks. After The Fire is eight and a half minute song, and definitely has a progressive side, and the gang vocals remind me of something on an Ayreon cd(yes an Ayreon cd which is definitely NOT a bad thing at all). The later half of the song features some of the heavier guitar riffs of the entire disc, along with those old Dream Theater vibes I mentioned earlier. This is definitely the most complex and progressive of all the songs, and a definite highlight to this listener. Remember will be that song that old fans will not like, while others will love. I think for what it is, a hugely melodic, technically perfect song, with a balance of simple melodies combined with complex riffs, and emotional vocals(and video!), that the song and video capture the meaning the band is trying to portray. Chivarly is the final song on the disc, and it takes awhile to get going, but is another slower melodic track that closes the disc, and finishes Havoc much in the way The Weight opened things up.

Do I want to hear Isolate again? Yeah I would love too, its on my phone, and I listen to it regularly! Do I want Isolate Pt. 2? Probably not! I give Circus Maximus the credit to open their musical horizons, and to move forward on what was accomplished on Nine. With Havoc, it is the type of disc best explored when you have the time, to relax, listen to everything being and played and sung. For the open minded listener, one who can appreciate change, or melodic progressive rock with touches of metal.

Killing Songs :
The Weight, Pages, Flames, After The Fire
Joel quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Circus Maximus that we have reviewed:
Circus Maximus - Nine reviewed by Thomas and quoted 79 / 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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