Norway's progressive rock act Circus Maximus was formed in the year 2000. The line-up featured long time band-mates Michael Eriksen on vocals and brothers Mats and Truls Haugen on guitar and drums respectively. In addition, the band consisted of keyboard mastermind Espen Storø and Mats' old high school buddy Glen Cato Møllen on bass. Erikesen was also in the hard rock band Carnivora, while Truls also played in death metal band Insense.
The act released two demos, gained management guidance through Intromental agency, and signed to Sensory for USA. Frontiers issued the album in Europe. The debut was issued in May, 2005 and the act was booked for that year's ProgPower festival. Storø left the band late in 2005. The band reappeared at ProgPower USA in 2006.
Isolate was issued in September of 2007 and entered the Norwegian charts. Tommy Hansen produced the band’s album once again. Lars Finbroten of Tritonus was the new piano man. At around the same time the band was featured in the ProgPower USA DVD. A 2008 US tour fell through when the headliner Circle II Circle cancelled its plans due to ongoing work for its next album.
Kamelot singer Roy Khan was replaced with Michael of Circus Maximus for touring purposes in September of 2010. Roy had fallen ill and could not tour. The band was also kind enough to also have a VIP meet ‘n greet for its tour. However, with the rehearsals not working out the new replacement singer was utilized for just one show, namely ProgPower America. Circus Maximus’ 2012 CD, called Nine, would be released on June 5th through Frontiers Records. Frontiers Music would release Havoc, the new album from the Norwegian progressive metal band, on March 18th 2016.
CIRCUS MAXIMUS - THE 1ST CHAPTER - SENSORY
Circus Maximus is a new name, but one would not know it given the Norwegians workmanship. The band is best described as a progressive metal band with similarities to Kamelot and progressive bands like like Dream Theater. Melody is very important to the band which proves itself as capable in this regard as well as in intricacy. The vocals sound like a cross between Kamelot, and even Balance Of Power. Changes in tempo are abundant here, but smooth and logical. These guys' playing ability is highlighted song after song. There are keyboards all over this, yes, but they stay in the background for track one. Over all, this chapter can get pompous but can alternately shift into a rock gear too. Alive is very much in the vein of Dream Theater. The singer's capability is clear on the song Glory Of The Empire. Biosfear is an instrumental track with an appearance by a moog keyboard. Silence From Angels Above is the album's slow song, while The Prophecy is poppy and even as easy a listen as the more commercial Queensrÿche. Why Am I Here is the album's best song with a catchy melody. The title song shows the many facets of the band and is the essence of the band anno 2005.
There are 70 minutes of music and eight tracks on the album with the title track itself being an extraordinary 20 minutes long - a bloodbath of progressive extravaganza! Circus Maximus is precise progressive and pompous and booked for ProgPower this year. - Ali "The Metallian"
CIRCUS MAXIMUS - ISOLATE - SENSORY
Circus Maximus’ debut The First Chapter was a surprisingly mature outing for the Norwegian band that garnered a fair amount of positive attention among critics and fans. More than two years later Isolate is still an impressive prog album, but with a few caveats.
The band has swapped keyboardist Espen Storø for Lasse Finbroten. The new album is more streamlined than its preceding one which means less progressive elements, less overt individual traits and oddly – seeing that it is usually the other way around – more allusions to the group’s obvious inspiration, Dream Theater. The band is not blatantly unoriginal, but nods to the New Yorkers, Symphony X and others are not hard to find. Nevertheless, Circus Maximus has a good album on its hands because it holds the listener’s attention. Isolate is not an album that becomes background noise. Song after song strikes an individual pose and stands on its own two (melodic) feet. The slow songs Zero and the twelve-minute long Mouth Of Madness are classy and as entertaining. Kudos to Mats Haugen for his lead guitar prowess. The band is the better for it. – Ali “The Metallian”