It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we last heard from Norway’s venerable progressive music masters Circus Maximus. 2012’s NINE was a huge album that expanded the band’s sound while still retaining the metal elements of ISOLATE that fans loved. Writing this in June 2016, I am a bit late to the party reviewing this fourth album by the band, HAVOC, which was released back in March 2016. Since its release, I have seen some wildly varying reviews, so lauding the album as another masterpiece while others have brutally shredded it. Has Circus Maximus truly changed that much and lost their touch?
Of course not! HAVOC, while not reaching the heights of the band’s previous work, is still a must-have album for the band’s fans. I think there are a couple of things fueling some of the negative remarks: 1) The album is probably the least heavy of the band’s four releases. In fact, I would go so far as to call this album prog-ROCK as opposed to prog-metal. There’s a reason I called them progressive music in the opening paragraph of this piece. Still, those looking for metal need look no further than “After the Fire” to be reminded of what the band is capable of. 2) The title track, “Havoc” is WAY outside anything the band has done before or should be doing. It’s like they decided to re-write “The Beautiful People” with Marilyn Manson. It’s an egregious track that is far below what they are capable of. I truly believe that the negative comments are mostly directed at this song. But hey, Circus Maximus has never been about one type of music and unfortunately not all experiments work. Move on.
The remaining 8 tracks are masterclasses of progressive music that only this band can provide. “Remember” is far and away my favorite cut, as it is that uplifting, soaring type of song that Circus Maximus just owns. Amazing. I could easily talk about each of the songs but I’d rather simply encourage you to keep and open mind and listen to the album for yourself. Slight missteps aside, the band’s fans should love HAVOC. Don’t listen to negativity, listen with an open mind and judge for yourself and you will be rewarded.
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