By Joel Barrios, Photos from the Pit’s Top Reviewer
I’ve said numerous times that am very far from being the pro-metal advocate I once was. There’s nothing essentially wrong with the sub-genre, other than the clear majority of the bands are really far from “progressing”, hence during the last few years my interest has grown outside that circle, venturing into “less explored” musical territories. Despite above, I keep checking often around the progressive-metal releases, as my thirst for the creative act or the simple contemplation of beauty in music hinders me to demarcate myself to a narrow quest, meanwhile compelling me to continue a never-ending search for listening gratification.
And sometimes along that exploration there’s a record that you absolutely did not expect to fall in love with, and it surprises you greatly, painting a smile in your face as the songs drop one after another. That’s exactly what I felt after the first (and customary) three listens of the Brazilian outfit Daydream XI and their sophomore effort “The Circus of The Tattered and Torn”. But first, let’s delve into a bit of history about who these guys are.
Almost ten years ago the Brazilian band Osmium morphed in to what would become Daydream XI. Originally from Porto Alegre in Brazil, they first put out the EP ‘Humanity’s Prologue’ and later their debut album “The Grand Disguise”, which was produced by Jens Bogren, head of the world-class Fascination Street studio, in Orëbro, Sweden, and released in September 2014, via Power Prog; leading them to be selected by legendary drummer Mike Portnoy himself to be part of a group of up-and-coming prog-metal bands to be included in the 2014’s Progressive Nation at Sea cruise, rubbing elbows with bands like Transatlantic, Devin Townsend, Pain Of Salvation, Animals As Leaders, Anathema, Jon Anderson, King’s X, and many other names in progressive music. Fast forward three years and now their sophomore album sees the light of day, a conceptual album that takes you on a metaphorical journey, where Phillip, the Circus master, takes his new apprentice, Circe, across the various acts of this Circus. Each song represents a feeling or aspect of human life, channeled by the storyline of each character. Each song represents a feeling or aspect of human life, channeled by the storyline of each character. Although Daydream XI ‘s line up is a stable one, a minor change came when bass player Tomás Gonzaga left after the debut, leaving vocalist and guitarist Tiago Masseti, guitarist Marcelo Pereira and drummer Bruno Giordano as the core of the band. The bass parts on “The Circus of The Tattered And Torn”are performed by Benhur Lima and the keyboards are played by Joey Izzo.
So, what’s “The Circus of The Tattered and Torn” about? First, I’ve got to say is a splendid album for such a young collective. The growth between the two albums is quite remarkable, and at the first spin you’d say it musically fits somewhere along the lines of Symphony X, Evergrey and DGM. Subsequent listens will begin to unearth the nuances and emotions crafted into their blend of blazing progressive metal with touches of hard rock, symphonic prog, and even power metal, while at the same time the accessibility factor is always present: intense and emotional personal songs with enough hooks for fans to enjoy without pulling out a calculator and struggle through all the music changes. “Open the Curtains” contain some wild guitar exchanges and intricate rhythms, while the heavy “Trust-Forged Knife” has riffs to die for and combines powerful passages with more vocal laden emotional parts. Speaking of prog, “Painted Smile” has plenty of it, as blazing guitar, bass, and keyboard lines dazzle around the arrangement with Masseti (who is also the mastermind behind the band and brilliant guitarist as well) soaring to the heavens. In the more aggressive parts his voice sounds very similar to those of Mark Basile and Jorn Lande, while other times his vocals hearken a more soulful, jazzy singing style with a different range and vibrato.
“A Cup of Agony” might be the heaviest track on the album, it just crushes. The guitar work and the drums acrobatic are massive and epic vocals dance alongside seemingly easy played complex drum rhythms. The gentler side of the band comes forth on the majestic “Overhauling Wounds“, an occasional foray into jazz territory and some relaxed but lush synths completed with gorgeous acoustic guitars, synths and a majestic vocal execution by Thiaho, who really stretches out his lungs and soars over the larger-than-life harmonies. The multi-faceted side of the band showcases when they completely change pace on the bluesy hard rock of “Collector of Souls“, which mixes some gospel strains with a touch of Deep Purple as well as Dream Theater crunch, fitting like a glove inside the album flow. “Forgettable” might be the most progressive track on the album, plenty of odd time signatures and changes along with a definitive Kansas feel, meanwhile “The Love That Never Was” brings some balance through a finely orchestrated acoustic composition, charged with intense vocals. The album closes with the title track, a 15-minute tour-de-force that progresses from an almost flamenco style guitar intro to an epic sounding metal song: a true kaleidoscope of acoustic guitars and synths colliding with booming electric guitar riffs, scorching solos, and jackhammer drum passages – a grandiose journey of emotions and solid craftsmanship.
A fluid, powerful, persuasive, and hugely entertaining work of melodic progressive-power-metal, with complex sections seamlessly giving way to gorgeous, pastoral segments, passionate vocals and musicianship out of the very top drawer, “The Circus of The Tattered and Torn” is an exciting and magnificent offering from a young band with multitudes of talent and truckloads of potential. Bold and ambitious enough that can easily stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any of the greats of the progressive metal scene, this is one of the year’s most exciting albums! Make sure to check it out!
Released By: Sensory Records
Release Date: September 22nd, 2017
Genre: Progressive Metal
- Tiago Masseti / guitars / vocals
- Marcelo Pereira /guitars
- Bruno Giordano / drums
- Benhur Lima / bass
- Joey Izzo / keyboards
“The Circus of the Tattered and Torn” track-listing:
- Ticket 00011 (Intro)
- Open the Curtains
- Trust-Forged Knife
- Painted Smile
- A Cup of Agony
- Overhauling Wounds
- Collector of Souls
- The Love That Never Was
- The Circus of the Tattered and Torn