Purveyors of hard-edged progressive metal, Norway’s Connect The Circle are a bit of a find if you like your music on the more thoughtful side.

Based around the twin peaks of Kenneth Brastad‘s six string bludgeon and the powerful vocals of Arild Fevang, the band, who take in subject matter as diverse as Evel Knievel, Spain’s conquest of Central America and the colonisation of Mars, are never less than engaging over the course of the eight tracks that make up Mother of Evil.

After stating their case with heavy opener The Legend of Becky Cotton, the band really hit their stride on the superb 34 Million Mile Mission, which opens with a  classic Heep/Purple keyboard fanfare before settling in to a stately groove that remembers Sweden’s Europe at their pomp rock best. Fevang’s clear, powerful tenor does at times remind this reviewer of the great Joey Tempest, and this theme continues on the excellent title track, powered by a rock solid contribution from rhythm section Raymond Smith (bass) and drummer Robert William. This is classy, accomplished stuff, make no mistake, yet the band never forget the importance of melody amongst all the top-shelf technique; Despite unleashing some pretty meaty riffage, there are always little hooks present to snag the receptive ear.

1519 is quite superb; an epic in all but duration – it takes Connect The Circle six minutes to accomplish what lesser bands could do in three times the time – and it’s this song that perhaps shows off what the band does in it’s finest light, as they tell the tale of Spain in Central America via the medium of a bravura display of light and shade and a grasp of heavy metal dynamics. Fevang is never less than commanding, but saves his best performance for following track Flat Moon Army, in which he hits some notes that can only reasonably described as ‘King Diamondesque’ whilst Brastad grinds out some of the heaviest riffs on the album. Again, quite superb is the only two word phrase that adequately sums things up!

The Shade and Evel Knievel keep the band’s momentum high (especially Brastad’s magnificent solo on the former track) before another highlight, When The King Cried, rounds things out in, well, majestic style. Here the band further underline that they can cover all the metal bases comfortably; and here they leave off with a strong sense that there’s plenty more left where this came from for future releases…

All in all, then, a pretty fine accomplishment from a band that is hopefully on the way to becoming a household name in prog metal circles – get in now and thank us for the tip off later!

Mother of Evil
is out now.