Deadly Circus Fire burn bright in London

DCF ditch the make-up and head to the Barfly

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Deadly Circus Fire have a problem. They have stepped up a level or two and from now on will be judged against more demanding criteria.

Previous gigs from the prog-metal foursome have been enthusiastic and competent, but done little to suggest the multi­national band could make significant progress. Here, though, they’ve leapt forward, with a deft, commanding, fiery display. Now, there’s both the combative spirit and long-sighted focus to be a lot more successful.

Every aspect of the Fire has improved. Frontman Adam Grant is tougher and so much better at controlling the audience – his voice is also more of a roar. Guitarist Save Addario throws out some lean Periphery related riffs, while bassist Mime Enort and drummer Paul Igoe offer subtlety as well as drive.

But, it’s the songs from new album The Hydra’s Tailor that highlight the way in which things have changed for the better. They still ride some brutal rapids, but have now embraced a lot more diversity and thoughtful complexity, and this makes a massive difference. You can hear the way the band are reaching out into Tool, Primus style territory on the likes of Animal, House Of Plagues and The Hydra’s Tailor, each getting those at the front of the stage moshing, yet also making everyone take notice of time changes and a creative lightness.

This reaches a crescendo on Devil’s Opera, which is turning into a DCF classic. It’s here that everything strong and positive about the band’s new approach is rammed home on a spiteful track that isn’t afraid to go off the rails.

There will be arguments as to whether the band’s decision to ditch their stage make­up is a good move. But this never clouds the fact that Deadly Circus Fire have been transformed into a formidable proposition.

Malcolm Dome

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He died in 2021