Released: 2012, Frontiers Records
Some bands just aren’t active enough. You know the ones I mean – bands whose music is so damn good that it’s almost criminal that they don’t release more music. They may not be huge commercial successes, but for their fans, each release is an EVENT. For me (and many other prog-metal fans) Norway’s Circus Maximus is one such band. In their twelve years of existence, they’ve only put out two previous albums, both of which are universally praised state of the art progressive metal. 2007’s sophomore album ISOLATE was a work of musical genius, so the five year gap until now has been particularly painful.
Fortunately the band’s third album, NINE, is finally upon us. As expected, the band has made the album worth the wait – skip past the “Forging” intro, and you’re left with 9 magical cuts of progressive metal, melded together with inspired riffs, musicianship, and Michael Erikson’s incredible vocals. “Architect of Fortune” is probably the heaviest, most “prog-metal” track on the album, announcing the band perfectly. “Namaste” is good but not as memorable, but from there the album just explodes into unbelievably memorable music, track after track. I could list every song, but I’ll just make special mention of the grand finale: “Last Goodbye”. It’s the most soaring cut on the album, with a tremendously uplifting riff and vocal; both Erikson and guitarist Mats Haugen put on an absolute clinic. I’ll be enjoying this song for years to come.
NINE is a stunning album and I know it will easily place in my Top 20 of 2012 list at the end of the year. Needless to say, if you’re at all a fan of progressive metal, you owe it to yourself to check out this album – and everything else by the band.