CIRCUS MAXIMUS - Havoc (Review)

information persons: 
Produced By: 
Circus Maximus
Release Date: 
Musical Style: 
Progressive Melodic Hard Rock
Friday, March 18, 2016
On the surface, I’d say that overall, this isn’t as strong as the last album Nine, but there are parts of this release that I favor over everything the band has done before.
Havok is a left turn for the guys after their brilliant progressive monster Nine. This time they’ve evolved into something a little more commercial. The album is nowhere near as heavy as last time and there’s an updated more contemporary sound in play, plus more keyboards as well.
There’s a few tracks here striving for modern rock radio – there’s a trilogy of tracks almost immediately - the moody Highest Bitter has an almost Shinedown quality to it as does Havok, which throws in vocal effects and a distorted production. Pages rounds it off – modern progressive and heavy down tuned guitar.
I enjoy those tracks in the flow of the album, they fit the narrative, but if I’m honest, the main reason I’m listening to them is from a purist’s point of view, in that I want to hear an album start to finish as the artist intended.
What I’m really waiting for are the quite masterful melodic epics that bookend those heavier tracks. These are the band at their creative best - as progressive and epic as ever – but also more complex and hook driven than before. They aren’t heavy in the normal sense, but they sure are powerful.
Those tracks include the brilliant opening track The Weight, with its symphonic heart; then the even better Flames, which is really just magnificent. Mellow, yet uptempo, melodic yet challenging. It features a wonderful chorus and some inspired guitar playing and keyboard parts.
Loved Ones comes next and is the first of 3 big epics on the album. It’s a little faster and a little heavier, but still fits the new sound. The chorus has an epic feel as does the extended instrumentation.
After The Fire is darker and more guitar driven, but still dramatic and engaging and at 8 minutes goes by in a flash thanks to several different musical passages.
Remember is one of the melodic songs of 2016 so far for me and is in a word – essential. It builds from a soft start to an epic finish that just blows me away every time. The chorus hook is extreme, even if it takes a while to arrive and the interplay between keyboard/guitar and drums is unbelievable.
Chivalry closes the regular album and does it with class. Another 8 minute plus epic, the song travels a few different paths before a great guitar riff plays out over the last minute or two.

Fabulous stuff again from the guys. They reach new levels of commercial melodic accessibility here as well as turning modern for a few tracks too.
Some like myself will favor one style over the other, but it’s still a great listen start to finish and I dare say it could find the band some new fans.
Overall a different beast to the last album, so I expect some folks won’t rate it quite as highly, but there’s still many highlights to appreciate.