UUuggghhhhh!!!! Another in the long stream of Progressive/Power metal bands that seem to be flowing out of every corner of this earth. Everything about this release screams I should hate it, from its overly clear and plastic production to its ridiculously over the top power/progressive metal theatrics. Somehow though these Norwegians have won me over with a pleasing catchiness to their songwriting and an endless charm in their performance. Each song is a well crafted machine of hooks and melodic riffing as well as Michael Eriksen's insanely clean and warm vocals that are for me Circus Maximus' main selling point. His voice seems to soar up high in the clouds and are even more over the top than the insane guitar wizardry of Mats Haugen (listen to his astronomical soloing in Mouth of Madness at the 5 minute mark). Circus Maximus manages to achieve both technicality and a sense of seriousness while still creating music that is accessible to the average listener and it doesn't come across as too pretentious. (pretentious sure, but not TOO pretentious, heh heh) There are certainly your required levels of typical progressive behavior like some silly keyboards like on Wither that strike a sour note indeed. Also the over inflated ballad makes an appearance in the form of Zero. By the end of the album some of the luster has worn off of my enjoyment of Isolate but in the end it is a good album but perhaps just a little too lengthy at 54 minutes. I certainly feel it will appeal to most fans of the progressive and power metal genres. Let it be known I usually treat these styles of metal with scorn and derision yet there is the occasional gem that shines through and wins me over and Circus Maximus is one such precious stone.