at Sticky Fingers, Gothenburg, Sweden, February 4, 2006

Due to a very early concert start, the preparations for Circus Maximus’ first gig (as support for Kamelot – a review of Kamelot’s gig is coming up in a Kamelot special to be published next week) ever in Sweden was a bit rushed. You know the old story about lack of sound check time, crowds wanting in, gear breaking down and all that –- but the band managed to get on stage quite on time (a whoopin’ 8pm, that is). This was a rather special gig for the band, as it was the debut live performance with new keyboard player Lasse Finbråten, who, not surprisingly, played his stuff spot on.

The shortage of preparation time did, on the other hand, create some difficulties for the band during the gig. The opener “Sin” came out very well, though –- no surprise, perhaps, as this is a strong candidate for 2005’s Prog tune of the year. What really ended up happening, however, was that Truls Haugen’s one bass drum screwed up and he desperately tried to communicate this to the rest of the band who were ready to jump straight into “Alive.”

This resulted in a long-ish break between the two songs –- featuring Mats Haugen pulling off some rather pointless shred licks and Michael Eriksen conducting some even more pointless small talk (“you know, in Sweden the gigs start earlier than in Norway”). But, after Haugen gets his rig back on track, things worked out well. The set was solely based on the band’s debut The 1st Chapter, and this guarantees a high quality of the music throughout the set.

“Why Am I Here,” and “The Prophecy” followed, and both worked very well. The band’s playing was close to perfection, and Eriksen had a great night at work, hitting even the highest of tones spot on. Still, when “Silence From Angels Above” and “Glory of the Empire” swept over a rather packed Sticky Fingers club as the band’s closing tracks, one thing was hard not to notice. Dynamics are usually a good thing when dealing with Heavy Metal, but on this night the band maybe took things a bit too far down. It’s not that the songs on their own were too soft, but songs like “The Prophecy,” “Silence …,” and “Glory …” open with calm guitars and soft, passionate singing. In a live setting where you have limited time, light, and pyro facilities, it could have been a good idea to include songs with a little more “punch” in the beginning to really grab the crowd’s interest.

With that being said, the way songs like the aforementioned “Glory of the Empire” that build in a long and moving crescendo are always a pleasure to listen to, and especially when the band decides to rock out the way they do in an amazing manner. Drummer Truls Haugen is without doubt one of the genre’s hottest talents, and the way he pushes his bandmates in the up-tempo parts is incredible. Also, bassist Glen Møllen took a more prominent role than on earlier performances, actively seeking crowd contact -– probably due to a new and stylish hair cut –- which definitely is a good thing. The band namely still lacks in the “playing for a crowd, and not just playing” department. There’s no doubt they’re working on it -– Eriksen, for example, has definitely improved his contact with the crowd, but there’s still a ways to go.

The performance was as usual impeccable, though. Mats Haugen is a bright new star on the shred guitar scene. He mixes melody, a (surprisingly) good tone (for an Ibanez JEM), and incredible chops in a creative and fresh manner. Eriksen is already famous for his range and tone, and Møllen shows that he possesses both the technique and sense of melody to come up with interesting bass lines in a genre with good bass-playing traditions. The drive and finesse of Truls Haugen has already been mentioned, and together with an impressive debut by Finbråten, there’s no doubt that these guys –- both live and on record -– can compete with the very best in the genre. If there ever was a saying like “being a head-bang from stardom,” it would suit Circus Maximus. Coming up with a few more albums like the debut and attending a few aerobic lessons/Cannibal Corpse live shows (whichever suits them the most) would grant them Metal stardom for a long, long time.


Why Am I Here
The Prophecy
Silence from Angels Above
Glory of the Empire


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

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