Circu5 is the project of British mult-instrumentalist and vocalist Steve Tilling. Initially, the album didn’t seem like a fit for me but after giving it a fair shot, there’s a lot to enjoy. First off, the music of Circu5 is a mix of prog rock and radio ready alt rock. In a parallel universe, Tilling is a well known artist. He can write a good tune, play many instruments and sing quite well too!
In many ways, Circu5 sounds like a guitar driven version of Frost*. Like Frost*, Circu5 is all about the song first and foremost. The album starts out with the more “friendly” tracks. Assuming songs about how someone becomes a serial killer is friendly! “My Degenerate Mind” and “Stars” have sing along choruses and crunchy guitar lines that are very enjoyable to be sure. My personal preference might be to be a little heavier but this isn’t prog metal after all.
Things get moodier with the interlude “Days Erased” which really works well with the album’s theme. Normally, I am not a fan of these shorter tracks but Tilling sells it well and gets the mood right. “Strings” is a very Frost* like track, so much that Tilling really reminds me of Jem Godfrey. And since I love Jem and Frost*, this works well. “Blame It On Me” kicks things back into the alt rock lane a bit. Kudos to drummer Alan van Kleef who does a great job of keeping the songs rocking as hard as they should. (And I am not even mentioning the guests on the album!)
Now to this point, the prog level wasn’t quite as high as I might like personally. But the five part epic “The Chosen One” is where Tilling pushes the album to a different level. This is the part of the album that people need to check out if they have any doubts about Circu5. This is where I was won over. It has the strong melodies of everything to this point but there’s more detail and just an overall epic vibe to this part. It’s cinematic, as it should be.
The parts flow really well: acoustic guitars to throbbing basslines to blistering guitar solos. Of the five parts, I really like the playing on “Transfiguation.” It reminds me a little of Crack the Sky for some reason. The bass on this track and really the whole album is amazing. The harmonies on “Crucifixion” are amazing. I could do without the sound effects that start “Resurrection” because they really break the momentum of the epic. But it’s only a minute so it’s not bad really.
So what did I learn? Well I learned that you can merge prog with really any other genre and come out with a winning formula IF you have the right person doing it. Circu5 is the work of a man who knows who he is as an artist and does what he likes doing. Circu5 is a really strong effort that might not be for everyone but it certainly should be given a chance by everyone.
1. Coming Home
2. My Degenerate Mind
4. Days Erased
6. Blame It On Me
7. The Amazing Monstrous Grady
8. The Chosen One:
To purchase, Circu5: burningshed.com/circu5_circu5_cd