just my luck to find an amazing album right AFTER the new year begins. I've
been pondering this debut album from Circle of Illusion, "Jeremias -
Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms", for a little while now. I honestly can't
think of anything else quite like it. You see, this is a rock opera of
sorts. It's a rather interesting and confusing story, but I believe that is
the point. The story seems to deal with muddled human emotions. This comes
across strongly in the music, too.
part where Circle of Illusion really shines is their completely unique take
on progressive metal.
there's plenty of metal here. The guitars are dark and heavy, the drums are
acrobatic and incredibly diverse, and the bass is very dynamic. However, on
top of this metal framework, the band adds a huge helping of funk. Yes,
sometimes it sounds like 70s funk, and sometimes it sounds more like soul or
jazz fusion. All the same, however, this adds a whole new dimension to the
music. But wait, there's more! For another layer, Circle of Illusion adds in
mesmerizing violin and incredible, towering cinematic orchestrations. This
is no small-time production: This is a spectacle of epic proportions.
you ever heard such a thing? Have you ever heard blazing metal mixed with
soundtrack-worthy orchestral arrangements mixed with a funky groove or beat?
Circle of Illusion makes this sound so incredibly natural. I couldn't
believe it. Entire passages have a 70s funk groove, but the metal and the
orchestra keep up easily. This is no boring rehash of every metal cliche
you've ever heard. This is fresh and absolutely inviting. As I told my wife,
I always seem to get in a great mood as soon as this album starts playing.
It's exciting stuff.
go back to the musicians for a second. The level of difficulty here is
immense. That doesn't automatically make it good, but this band manages to
inject passion and love into their craft. "Acrobatic" describes more than
the drums on this album. Every instrument performs fireworks and also
delicate parts, too. We get the whole spectrum here. Now, I must mention the
vocalists. There are three vocalists here, though you'll notice a single
male voice and a single female voice more often than not. Usually on these
types of albums, the vocals are lackluster. On "Jeremias", we get silky
smooth male vox that remind me of Damian Wilson at times, and then powerful
female vocals that are up there with the likes of Simone Simons. That's
quite a compliment coming from me. These singers perform admirably, and they
change their tones to match whatever type of music is playing. This is a
class act, my friends.
over Ayreon. In 2013, you were bested by new blood. This album is in every
way more exciting, more original, and even more interesting than Ayreon's
latest. With hints of Haken here and there, Circle of Illusion manages to
wow me time after time. From the incredible arrangements of "Overture" to
the absolutely stunning, funky "The Beginning" to the epic encounter, "New
Age"; this album is something truly new and special. And, just when you
think an eighty minute album will be too much, the album ends off with
"Nightmare", a soaring and dark song that is freaky and irresistible at the
same time. If you love progressive music of any caliber, do yourself a favor
and get your hands on a copy of this riveting record.