Out with Pedro, in with Baza. About two years after the end of the string of speed/power/thrash records that came back to back, Overdose would abandon all hints of power metal and fully discharge its weapons with thrash metal, likely due in part by swapping singers. Circus Of Death took on a more sinister tone overall, a style that would rapidly change once again after this monster. What probably kept Overdose under the radar was the fact that it was just a little late. This brand of heavy metal was far less popular and soon to hibernate for a while. Had this come out a little earlier in the timeline, perhaps they would have drawn a larger following.
Even though there was a fair amount of thrash in previous efforts, this one crosses the line that beholds darker tones and a far more assertive attitude. Before, it was easily comparable to the likes of Metal Church or Iced Earth. Here, many compare them to Sepultura because of the raw death-like nature of the dropped guitars and raspier vocals. Although I’m sure people also just say it because they’re from the same area. Instrumentally, it takes on a speed-picking frenzy of riff assaults, laying super wicked solos, such as the explosive one on “The Zombie Factory”. Other tracks like the following one “Dead Clowns” slow it down a bit and dull away some of the sharp distortion. This in turn creates a more melodic tone yet maintaining the eerie environment through the usage of minor keys and whiny guitars. So there’s more than one name of the game when it comes to instrumentation, despite failing to vary in the overall mood. Had the album been longer, this would affect it more.
On the other hand, the vocals are very similar to that of Phil Anselmo with the gritty echo of his harder vocal shreiks. As a nice touch, the delivery is very clear and it’s blunt enough to burst through some of the rougher production. The mix does sometimes get a little awkward, mostly during the solos, as the rhythms take too much foreground in some areas and the two blend together, but honestly, this can be overlooked and I’m somewhat being picky. Plus, it helps the drums blow through that top layer, making for a harder swing to the eardrums on the intense moments. What matters the most though is how the tunes are able to leave a lasting impression. While it’s nothing legendary, it certainly keeps the head banging the whole time, and manages to make me want to keep revisiting. “The Healer” does a spectacular job with switching the delivery style around, with slower guitars to start, speed balls welded with loud vocal outbursts coming at you next, and finally incorporating in some melodic moments. The ability to do things like this are what prevent the flaws from hitting the surface often.
Anybody who digs thrash or groove metal would have something to walk away with from giving Circus Of Death a spin. Moving forward, the band would lean towards the latter of the two, making this nothing short of a big transition album. Blending raw thrashy guitars with a melodic yet dark tone, topped with groovier vocals are the final formula, and despite a few production errors, this idea worked out perfectly.
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