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Circle of Illusion - "Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms" (CD)

Circle of Illusion - "Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms" CD cover image

"Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms" track listing:

1. Overture
2. The Beginning
3. The Run
4. The Memory Returns
5. The Party
6. Closing Doors
7. New Age
8. Continuum
9. Sarah's Dream
10. 13th Floor
11. Nightmare

Reviewed by on June 5, 2014

"A 'Jesus Christ Superstar' for the prog world, Circle of Illusions's 'Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms' is as much a Broadway musical as it is a progressive rock or metal album."

A "Jesus Christ Superstar" for the prog world, Circle of Illusions's “Jeremias - Foreshadow of Forgotten Realms” is as much a Broadway musical as it is a progressive rock or metal album. Clearly meant to involve a stage production with acting, the scope of this album is large, involves a handful of styles that are difficult to blend together, and requires a taste for pomp and exaggerated grandiosity. Fortunately, for those who have the taste for such a thing, it can be a pretty rewarding debut album.

The brainchild of composer and keyboardist Gerald Peter, the album involves eight total members including female and male vocalists, a violinist, bassist, guitarist, and drummer and sounds bigger than one would expect. Shades of Lalo Schifrin, Haken, Symphony X, Turisas, Pain of Salvation, and Dream Theater can be heard in the development of themes and specific melodic choices. Movement shifts are frequent and often elegantly intuitive, anticipating one another, and display a range of emotions and textures. Despite these positive qualities, there remains one glaring irregularity: there are disco and funk sections to provide counterpoint.

Disco and funk so rarely have anything to do with progressive rock or metal that their incorporation into a record of such music is off-putting. While not unusual for a 1970s or early 1980s production, these passages too often make light of the seriousness of the rest of the music in the production, albeit unintentionally. Moreover, the storyline is very hard to penetrate and connect to, which shouldn't be the case with a Broadway-type musical. Nevertheless, the dizzying instrument lines and proficiency of the players are the meat of the music and never cease to dazzle.

Like a smart nephew with eccentric interests and comical quirks, the album stands out as endearingly intelligent. The end result would surely make Danny Elfman, composer of the music for the landmark animated feature The Nightmare Before Christmas, grin with mutual respect. It's big, it's bold, yet still a question mark. It's open to debate as to whether or not they missed the mark or nailed it right-on. Either way, this German eight-piece mini-theater-company has established itself as a fine alternative to the norm.

Highs: Cinematic, often Broadway-esque composition with prog rock/metal instrumentation and vocals.

Lows: The straight-up disco and funk-type passages within the music.

Bottom line: A prog rock/metal musical of considerable size and lovable oddity.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)