Spawned from a solo demo track with no home called Closing Doors, this 80-minute epic has sprung from the imagination of keyboard player Gerald Peter. A concept album with a slightly surreal fantasy storyline, it’s fleshed out by the warm, rich vocals of musical theatre star Taris Brown (Hair, JC Superstar, We Will Rock You), who also wrote the lyrics.
This album certainly holds the attention but while The Run, 13th Floor and the aforementioned Closing Doors are impressive and predicated on fine musicianship, there’s also a feeling that Circle Of Illusion are overstretching themselves at times.
The music veers through classical, funk, jazz, metal, folk and disco, which can seem quite a pile up, particularly on dizzying finale Nightmare, which weighs in at over 16 minutes. In some respects, this album is what might happen if Nightwish were let wildly off the leash – one online review called this Les Miserables on acid.
The result is nonetheless largely admirable, the far-reaching ambition of Peter, Brown and everyone involved to be appreciated. It’s so overwhelming, though, that it misses being one of the year’s most essential releases, while showing potential if they can learn to focus their ideas.