Circus Maximus

Circus Maximus
STYLE: ORIGIN: NorwayFORMED: 2000LABEL: Frontiers
  • Michael Eriksen - Vocals
  • Mats Haugen - Guitars
  • Glen Møllen - Bass
  • Lasse Finbråten - Keyboards
  • Truls Haugen - Drums

Circus Maximus is a Norwegian progressive metal quintet from Oslo. They employ the use of symphonic and power metal influences that feature synthesizers. As of 2016, they have released four albums, The 1st Chapter in 2005, Isolate in 2007, Nine in 2012 and Havoc in 2016.

Formation and early history of Circus Maximus (2000–2003)

In 2000 long-time band mates Michael Eriksen (vocals) and brothers Mats (guitar) and Truls Haugen (drums) were joined by keyboard player Espen Storø and Glen Cato Møllen on bass to form Circus Maximus.

Initially being a cover band, they got a lot of positive feedback for their interpretations of technically challenging material from bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X. Before long, the band started to write their own material. With other influences varying from pop/rock through classical progressive rock to heavy metal and death metal, their music synergized into a mixture of melodic and groovy sound with lots of heavy riffs. In the musical press their sound has been compared to Queensrÿche, TNT, Shadow Gallery, Pretty Maids, Helloween and the like.

Releasing two demos to great reviews in Norway, as well as in Europe and United States, the band made a record deal with American Sensory Records for the USA and Canada. Later on an opportunity for a licensing deal for Europe and Russia to Frontiers Records arose.

The 1st Chapter (2004–2006)

Circus Maximus began writing their debut album in 2004 entitled, The 1st Chapter which was released in May 2005. The eight-tracked album contains the longest Circus Maximus song with the title track running for over 19 minutes. The album also came with two bonus tracks.

Half a year later, in November 2005, keyboards player Espen Storø decided to leave the band for personal reasons. In early 2006, Lasse Finbråten (formerly of Norwegian progressive/power metal band Tritonus) joined the band, filling the vacant spot.

During 2005 Circus Maximus went on their first tour with their major performance being in Atlanta in the United States where they played at the ProgPower festival. Circus Maximus then returned to the same festival the following year with their new keyboardist. During the rest of 2006 Circus Maximus continued to play gigs around Scandinavia with other major acts such as Kamelot, Pagan’s Mind and Glenn Hughes.

Isolate (2007)

Circus Maximus spent the first quarter of 2007 recording their second studio album, Isolate. The album was then released on August 7, 2007. Following the release of Isolate the band went on tour playing at major festivals such as ProgPower Europe, ProgPower Scandinavia, Sweden Rock and MetalHear. They also went on many solo shows while on the road.

During February 13 to March 5, 2008 the band toured Europe as an opening act at the Symphony X Paradise Lost Tour 2008.

On the 22nd June 2010 Michael Eriksen posted some news on the recording process. He said “Yesterday Mats and myself hit the studio to start the vocals on one of the tracks”. Later he mentioned that “We will have some videos up and running for you in a bit”.

Nine (2012–2015)

The third album, called Nine was released on 1 June 2012. The band described the album as being both more melodic and more dynamic than their two preceding albums.

Havoc (2016)

The first single from Havoc, “The Weight”, was released on 19 January 2016.

The theme on this new album is about moments and experiences in life that lead to love and hate. It’s about succumbing to fire and striving to cope with the aftermath of decisions when overshadowed by the love we have for others and ourselves.

Circus Maximus - Havoc

Musically the band offers a mixture of very heavy moments intertwined with extremely accessible melodies. Songs like Pages, the opener The Weight, After the Fire and Remember show the full range of the Circus Maximus sound. Still, the album has very heavy songs like Havoc and slow and melodic moments like Loved Ones too.


text adapted from: and


Havoc / 2016

  • Album Info
  • 2016
  • Frontiers Music SRL
  1. The Weight
  2. Highest Bitter
  3. Havoc
  4. Pages
  5. Flames
  6. Loved Ones
  7. After The Fire
  8. Remember
  9. Chivalry
  10. Loath


Havoc is the fourth studio album by Norwegian progressive metal band Circus Maximus, released on 18 March 2016. The deluxe edition includes a bonus track and an additional disc featuring a 2012 live performance in Japan.

Nine / 2012

  • Album Info
  • 2012
  • Frontier Records
  1. Forging
  2. Architect Of Fortune
  3. Namaste
  4. Game Of Life
  5. Reach Within
  6. I Am
  7. Used
  8. The One
  9. Burn After Reading
  10. Last Goodbye


Nine is the third full-length studio album by the Norwegian progressive metal band Circus Maximus. The album was released on June 1, 2012.

The album is being described as more melodic and dynamic than the previous album. The album is also more guitar-oriented. “The majority of the material on the new record was written by Mats Haugen and he has taken the music to a kind of simpler and more accessible approach, yet kept the progressive elements and the “nerve” that is Circus Maximus” says Truls Haugen. Circus Maximus will appear live in some selected shows in the summer before launching a full-scale tour in support of the new album. 

Glen Cato Møllen, the bassist of the band, told about the differences among Nine and the other two albums: “Two huge elements in the new material are first and foremost the evolution of the songwriting and the accessibility of the music. When you combine that with a new sound and production, you have a pretty different outcome from what we did on “Isolate”. We have been and always will be super proud of what we accomplished with the previous albums, but I think we’ve taken it to the next level with the new stuff”.

Isolate / 2007

  • Album Info
  • 2007
  • Frontier Records
  1. A Darkened Mind
  2. Abyss
  3. Wither
  4. Sane No More
  5. Arrival Of Love
  6. Zero
  7. Mouth Of Madness
  8. From Childhood’s Hour
  9. Ultimate Sacrifice


Isolate is the second full-length studio album by the Norwegian progressive metal band Circus Maximus. The album was released on October 24, 2007 in Japan, August, 2007 in Europe and September 4, 2007 in the US.

The cover-art for the album as well as a sample track containing an excerpt from the song “Wither”, was released by the band on May 29, 2007 on the official Circus Maximus website. Like its former album, Isolate contains the same number of tracks (with the bonus tracks) and also track 4 is an Instrumental (“Biosfear” on The 1st Chapter and “Sane No More” on Isolate).

Isolate is also the first album to feature new keyboardist Lasse Finbråten after Espen Storø’s departure at the end of recording of The 1st Chapter. Lasse Finbråten added more keyboard/synthesizer sounds to the album in both soloing and overall use. This is different from the previous album as Espen Storø’s sound centered on the use of the piano.

The album entered the Norwegian national charts at number 70 in August, 2007.

The 1st Chapter / 2005

  • Album Info
  • 2005
  • Frontier Records
  1. Sin
  2. Alive
  3. Glory Of The Empire
  4. Biosfear
  5. Silence From Angels Above
  6. Why Am I Here
  7. The Prophecy
  8. The 1st Chapte
  9. Haunted Dreams
  10. Imperial Destruction


The 1st Chapter is the debut album by the Norwegian progressive metal band, Circus Maximus. The 1st Chapter was released on May 14, 2005 in Norway and on June 7, 2005 in the United States. The ongoing theme of The 1st Chapter is about “the journey” to salvation expressed through the lyrics. Musically, it sports a circus-like theme (that actually can be heard) playing throughout the album.

The lyrics to the song “Glory of the Empire” refer heavily to the 2000 film, Gladiator.

The 1st Chapter contains (as of 2012), the longest running Circus Maximus song with “The 1st Chapter” running for 19 minutes and 7 seconds.

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