Norwegians Circus Maximus are one of the best representatives of the Scandinavian melodic progressive metal scene. Although over the years the band has slightly shifted to a more AOR influences form, over the pure progressive metal of their debut album; The 1st Chapter, their music has remained sincere and pure. After the band released their fourth album; Havoc (2016, see review) Circus Maximus opted to play the release show in their home base Oslo's finest venue; Rockefeller. But, due to the usual delays, the release of Havoc was postponed a month, leaving the band to perform songs to the audience they never had the chance to listen to before.
Havoc In Oslo comes as a double CD with the additional DVD of the show, both holding the same songs. The DVD however has some nice extras; a behind the scene, clips, making of. During the show itself, Circus Maximus focuses on the latest two releases; the aforementioned Havoc and Nine (2012, see review), leaving just two songs from 2007's Isolate, one can be found on the band's debut album.
Basically it doesn't really matter if you are a fan from the first period or started to like the band with the previous album, live the band displays so much entertainment, interacting with the audience, a nice atmosphere on stage and perhaps most important, majestic songs. Opener Namaste is the perfect track to get started with, vocalist Michael Eriksen's voice is very strong and remains solid the whole night, during the heavier parts drummer Truls Haugen adds a fine, nasty growl. Without a doubt, the audience attention is guaranteed. Songs like The Weight shows the interaction between guitarist Mats Haugen and keyboard player Lasse Finbråten, which reminds a bit of the style a band like Europe became famous with. Highest Bitter has a nice bass intro by Glen Cato Møllen and is an über catchy track, well recieved by the audience. A song that needs to be mentioned is the power ballad Loved Ones; a track filled with very strong vocals and nice guitar soloing. My personal favourite comes as the sole song from their debut; Sin. Progressive, powerful and catchy in one. In Pages, another slower ballad style tune has entered the set list, a perfect choice to display both Michael's great voice and jet another inspiring guitar solo. Another pretty impressive song is Abyss, again a bit more progressive and powerful than the songs that have been recorded in the last couple of years. Chivalry, from the Havoc album is performed amazingly; smooth piano, dedicated voice, a brilliant track. During the final Game Of Life, the audience noticeable participates and you can witness how happy the band members are, to have played in their home town, knowing they have really delivered.
The filming of the DVD has been executed very well, a good use of multiple camera's makes the accompanying DVD a pleasant one to watch. Lots of shots that are focussed on each individual player, that are balanced with nice wide angle shots of the venue. Job well done.
Circus Maximus release Havoc In Oslo displays the perfect balance between a few older progressive tracks and the more moderate, catchy tracks from the last years. All in all a wonderful document that shows a really entertaining evening, filled with amazing music.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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