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Machine Men - Circus of fools 4/5

Reviewed: 2-16-07


1. Circus of fools
2. No talk without the giant
3. Ghost of the seasons
4. Tyrannize
5. The shadow gallery
6. Where I stand
7. Border of the real world
8. Dying without a real name
9. The cardinal point

Machine Men have released their all-important 3rd studio album, entitled ‘Circus of fools’. I caught onto this band back with their debut CD ‘Scars & wounds’, released back in 2003, and their s/t EP, which included an awesome cover of Iron Maiden’s “Aces high”. They are a traditional heavy metal band from Finland, with some power metal influences. They are obviously massive followers of both Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson, as their music contains lots of similarities with those 2 bands.

As far as debuts go, ‘Scars & wounds’ was fairly solid, but obviously with a few inconsistencies that comes with a band’s first CD. But it was enough to keep my interest in the band and I quickly got my hands on their 2nd CD, ‘Elegies’, released in 2005. ‘Elegies’ was a decent CD, with some solid tracks, but not really a massive improvement from their debut. I found that there were still some areas in need of improvement, things to be ironed out so to speak. But again, there was enough there to keep my interest in the band.

So now, ‘Circus of fools’ has arrived and I was very interested to see how much they have progressed since ‘Elegies’. I find that the 3rd CD can be the most important in a band’s career and can change the course of their success. After the initial spin of the new CD, my first reaction was how much this band has improved. All the things that were lacking, or in need of attention, has indeed been ironed out and the band has matured a lot. With their first two CDs, Machine Men had showed us that Maiden and Mr. Dickinson were their influences, and recorded CDs that were similar to them. But with ‘Circus of fools’ they have left those self-proclaimed influences behind and said: “Right, this is us. We are now on our own and this is who we are”.

‘Circus of fools’ feels a lot heavier than their other 2 CDs and the songwriting has improved also. It sounds very mature, and very strong. The CD has a nice mix of heavy fast songs, slow to mid-paced songs and a few very well done ballads. On previous CDs, Machine Men had a few songs that lacked in quality, while others were excellent, thus being a little inconsistent. But with the new CD, those errors have been fixed and the songs on ‘Circus of fools’ are all pretty much on the same level of quality.

The title track, which is also the first track on the CD, is easily one of the best. It’s a fast, “in your face” head-banging track, which really packs a punch and completely sets the scene of what this CD has to offer. “No talk without the giant” is another great track, similar to the title track. It’s another fast-paced rocker with vocalist Toni Parviainen totally owning the track. Already you can hear how much the band has matured.

“Ghost of the seasons” is a great mid-paced track, which also uses acoustic guitar to give it that ballad feel. The range of Parviainen is exceptional in this song, from the softer parts to his highest range, he really makes this song stand out. “Dying without a name” is, in my opinion, the 2nd best song on the CD after the title track. It’s another fast-paced track with a rockin’ beat and a catchy chorus; that will make you keep hitting the repeat button every time. Finally, the CD ends with a great track entitled “The cardinal point”. This track really shows the band’s maturity and overall improvement, as the songwriting and structure is fantastic. It is a great way to end the CD and you are left with nothing else but wanting to spin the CD again.

I am really amazed at the big leap Machine Men has made with this CD, in their songwriting, and especially with the band’s maturity. I have always liked Toni Parviainen’s vocals and he is obviously a very talented singer. And on ‘Circus of fools’, Toni is exceptional. His range is fantastic and the best part is, that it is controlled. From the lower, soft range to the high-pitched wails, his voice is always totally controlled.

‘Circus of fools’ will be the CD that really gets Machine Men noticed amongst the metal world, and Century Media really has a “cash cow” with this band. Already 2 months into ’07 and I am listening to a CD that should make everybody’s top 10-15 list at the end of the year. 2 thumbs up!




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