Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Saturday, October 29, 2016
when Circus Maximus lost its mojo
Circus Maximus (Norway)
Release date: March 18th, 2016
Label: Frontiers Records
This album is garbage.
The reason why their public held the band in high regard was for the combination of prog metal and accessibility. For instance, the first two albums The 1st Chapter (2005) and Isolate (2007) have several elements that are very good: the simpler, ear-friendly songs that show that they are not just prog nerds and that they were aware not everyone wants to hear 20-minute songs; they also had the usual long prog songs that made the prog dorks salivate and declare the band an example of excellence from now to eternity.
They also had great, melodic singing. The band sounded like a fantastic compromise. Personally, I was convinced that some people in the band do not care for prog as much as some other people in the band and those people would be happy with the shorter songs for a whole album. I also knew that some people in the band really would be content with having an album that goes ultra prog all the way, even at the cost of accessibility and memorability. A pop mentality and a prog philosophy somehow coexisted and it worked. There was harmony.
The band was all over the place: poppy songs, melodic songs, prog songs, super prog tracks, but it sounded like the same band and the musical skill and great singing somehow held it all together. It sounded fun, most of the time, except when they would go totally prog on the listener, then it sounded like music for musicians, but it was done in appropriate doses and it added variety to the album. Nonmusicians could stay with the long songs, perhaps even with a little bit of a badge of honor and a bit of bragging. The band sounded intelligent and it could make the listener feel a bit more intelligent, too.
Well, forget all of that now. It's over. It's all gone. They have dumbed down the music to the lowest common denominator. The riffs are gone, now it's "prog" grooves, which is trash, because anyone with normal metal music IQ knows that bands with no riffs do grooves because they have no imagination. Where are the riffs? Where is the mojo? Where is the melody? Nowhere. What is the music now? It's simple radio rock, the type that goes over well in the U.S. with certain people, in the sense that--as a certain Seattle metal musician put it in a recent conversation--it is "Middle America rock."
Some people have tried to come to grips with what has happened, and they have mentioned that this sounds weaker than a band like Nickelback or bands like that. Others have said this is a huge disappointment due to the drop in IQ in the music. Of course, others have noticed it's the lack of energy. This band does not want to rock anymore. They were never a bunch of real big time rockers, but they had songs to be excited about, if you like melody, skill, singing and guitar work.
There is no way around it. This band has lost it. Just listen to the opening song from this album. You might think it does not sound too bad, but after a whole album of this sound, you might not still think that. Notice the lack of guitar riffs. Notice the overall loss of mojo. Listen to the pitiful "guitar solo." Sweet cheese and crackers, what happened here?!
Here is my prediction.
Some people in the band are now happier that the band has decided to have all similar songs and to sound more accessible, but some people in the band are now very, very unhappy and some people will leave. Is it possible that everyone in the band, everyone now wants to write simple rock music?! So, everyone in the band wants this?! Really? My prediction says that the band will in the future realize that they are losing their credibility and that will bother them and they will try to gain back the trust of the people. They will try to "go back to their roots" or go back to their older established sound and they will go around telling people that they "are back" for real. They will say that they are incorporating their classic sound more into their current thinking.
If they are making more money now, the discontent will not happen for a while because the money can hide the misery for a while, but some people in the band just won't be able to stomach the loss of IQ and the loss of mojo.
That's my prediction. Let's sit back and watch what happens. Maybe I don't know anything, right?! Maybe! Let's talk in 5-8 years and let's see what happens to this band's music. Remember my prediction: member changes will happen and/or a music direction reckoning is coming. Someone is not happy and it will start to eat at the band from the inside.
Here the first song from the album. Remember now: this is the opening track. This is their statement, their declaration of purpose and intention. This is the new Circus Maximus, they say with the song.
Circus Maximus - The Weight (Official Audio)