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4.17 | 22 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2007


1. A Darkened Mind (5:33)
2. Abyss (5:00)
3. Wither (4:46)
4. Sane No More (3:54)
5. Arrival of Love (4:10)
6. Zero (4:49)
7. Mouth of Madness (12:42)
8. From Childhood's Hour... (4:28)
9. Ultimate Sacrifice (9:17)

Total Time: 54:41


- Mike Eriksen / vocals
- Mats Haugen / guitar
- Glen Mollen / bass
- Truls Haugen / drums
- Espen Storo / keyboards

About this release

Release date: August 7, 2007
Label: The Laser's Edge

Thanks to colt, diamondblack for the updates


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I want to take a moment to encourage anyone who listened to Circus Maximus' first album, The 1st Chapter (how appropriately titled, eh?), and found it good but not good enough to keep listening to try this album out. They've really developed their own individuality in this album, the album has a more polished feel, more professional sound mixing, and I feel overall they've shown that their potential is being realized. I want to point out and focus on the real prog gems of the album, but the album over all is a masterpiece, having a "something for everyone" type of setup where each song is showcasing different elements of the band. This band has a way of writing, dare I say, "radio-friendly" prog songs that have a deceptively simple feel to them, but underneath are subtle time-signature changes, and they will often surprise you with a very cool proggy instrumental at the end of such a song. But like I said, I want to point out a couple of the songs that really stick out to me as Progressive monsters. For example, the instrumental "Sane No More" shines, competing with Dream Theater's "Dance of Eternity" in the "Best Instrumental Progressive Rock Song" and "Most Time Signature Changes In a Song" categories, and I nominate "Mouth of Madness" in the "Best Progressive Metal Epic of the Year" category. But I point these out only to try to focus attention on these as some of the more complex and, to me, interesting pieces of the album. All throughout the album are strewn good progressive elements, but what makes this band extraordinary are their ability to hold back at times and be more subtle, in order to appeal to a broader audience. For example, "Arrival of Love" has a feel that reminds me of Def Leppard, with a more classic rock feel to it, but then they start to drop in some nice time signature changes Matts Haugen's guitar work is showcased very well. And "From Childhood's Hour" starts out with a very dark, heavy feel but abbruptly changes to a quieter, more poppy feel. But then in the chorus you can allmost hear them saying "Ha! Fooled you! We're a Progressive Metal band baby!" as they throw in some time changes and heavy rhythm guitar. And at the end of the song there is a very cool instrumental section that starts out with some mysterious sliding guitar sounds, and then abruptly shifts to a much heavier Prog Metal sound. This band has created a lot of buzz in Prog Metal circles, and I am going to say it is well deserved.
"Isolate" is Circus Maximus' second album and a follow-up to the highly praised debut, "The 1st Chapter". Released by Frontiers in 2007, Circus Maximus is one of the few progressive-based bands that was handled by the label which is famous for its hard rock and AOR releases. Their musical style is a combination of melodic heavy metal and progressive, making them much easier to listen for non-prog fans, and another interesting fact to underline is that most songs here are quite short compared to the regular prog tracks which is stretched to a minimum of 7 or 8 minutes. The production level is also very good.

On this album, only two lengthy tracks were included which is "Mouth of Madness", started with a gloomy semi-ballad approach, but turned out to be a decent 12-minutes composition, while the other one is better, "Ultimate Sacrifice", a pure melodic metal with a bit prog flavor. The first three tracks are among the strongest here: "A Darkened Mind", a thumping rhythm with a furious beat and melodic chorus, is my first fave. "Abyss" with its chugging riffs and slower tempo, still offer a delicious chorus. "Wither", a well-crafted Verse and Chorus and another favorite. "From Childhood's Hour" is a more laid-back melodic hard rock and less-prog track. "Arrival of Love", in my opinion, is their masterpiece, they smartly blend a balance amount of commercial element, hard rock, progressive metal, and guitar exploration into one fantastic song.

To sum up, "Isolate" lacks of ultra experimentation of a usual progressive metal band but also not a dull effort by a young band. Instead, the songwriting skill and band’s delivery are admirable. With a less-complex structure, this is definitely accessible to casual melodic metal lovers or hard rock fans, and probably won't feed a hungry hardcore progmetal fans, but judging from a string of powerful songs, "Isolate" is an essential album to have.
Conor Fynes
'Isolate' - Circus Maximus (8/10)

Circus Maximus' 2005 debut 'The 1st Chapter' blew away the progressive metal world and suprised everyone that a band of musicians so young and relatively inexperienced could make such technical, complex music while maintaining a very strong sense of melody and direction. Heavily influenced by the likes of Symphony X, Circus Maximus certainly made a strong impression in the world of progressive music. Obviously, their sophomore release would be anticipated with very high expectations. The band's 2007 release 'Isolate' was what they came up with.

Is it as good as 'The 1st Chapter?' It's quite possible. So how good is it then? Damned good.

'Isolate' represents a darker, more weathered side of Circus Maximus. There isn't so much of a happy light feeling anymore; instead it is replaced by a more introspective and sad sound that really helps to mature the band's tone and sound. While I can't say that it has the album cohesion that a masterpiece like it's predecessor would, 'Isolate' is a dose of some amazing progressive metal, with some really stellar material.

'Isolate' is certainly less consistent then the first album. There are songs that leave me speechless, but there are also songs that while good, don't have the epic quality about them that was found much more consistently in 'The 1st Chapter.' The song 'Abyss' is a fantastic song, and combines frantic progression with strong vocals (the singer for this band is absolutely amazing, by the way) and a powerful sense of melody to make a song that could be considered the 'quintessential' CM track. It shows what the band is really made of, and got me into the band in the first place.

The epic of the album, 'Mouth Of Madness' is probably my favourite Circus Maximus track yet. While the epics of the last album have garnered much more critical acclaim, I find this song to be much more focused, directed, and well, 'epic.' The song begins slow but gets very intense towards the middle, and climaxs with all guitars firing, and a gregorian choir chanting to exacerbate the dramatic effect. It's simply stunning, I love it.

While as an overall product, it wasn't as stunning and consistent as the first, it's definately not dissapointing, and Circus Maximus proves that they have a very bright future if they continue their musical career.

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