Daydream XI – The Circus of the Tattered and Torn – Album Review

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Artist: Daydream XI

Album Title: The Circus Of The Tattered And Torn

Label: Sensory Records

Date Of Release: 22 September 2017

There’s an age-old saying that ‘first impressions last’ and furthermore, that once made, that first impression can last a lifetime. Fortunately for the young Brazilian prog metal band Daydream XI, there’s another saying which suggests that first impressions can be deceiving.

To begin with, there’s the opening ‘track’ to their sophomore album, ‘The Circus of the Tattered and Torn’. Entitled ‘Ticket 000011’, it is a spoken-word intro piece that sets a concept in motion. The story involves a circus master and a new apprentice, but the wider concept looks at the way we, as humans, are drawn to others more through their flaws than through their positive traits. It’s an interesting concept but is initially hampered by this intro which is, if I’m, honest, really awful. The voices are over-the-top, particularly that of the circus master, Phillip, and I still recoil in horror if I forget to skip it.

Then there was the overall first impression of the music that I had after the first full spin. It wasn’t positive at all. My mental notes essentially amounted to ‘too much’, ‘too ambitious’ and ‘the melodies are not strong enough’. I was decidedly underwhelmed. The situation wasn’t helped by the cover artwork either which I still think is decidedly ‘meh’.

However, after plenty of insistent badgering by a follower of my site, I decided to give the album another try. After all, if some people liked this record so much, I reasoned that there must be something about it that I had missed first time around. Would my first impressions be changed then? In a word, yes. I still don’t think that ‘The Circus Of The Tattered and Torn’ is the unequivocal masterpiece that others are declaring it to be, but it is certainly worthy of closer examination and, overall, is a much more enjoyable listen than I first thought. It’s ok, I can admit when I’m wrong.

Comprised of vocalist/guitarist Tiago Masseti, guitarist Marcelo Pereira and drummer Bruno Giordano, Daydream XI take their cue from the likes of Dream Theater, Symphony X and a plethora of other bands to bring their symphonic power-tinged progressive metal to life. For a band still so young, theirs is an ambitious blueprint and, for the most part, it works very well.

Fortunately, within a few seconds of ‘Open The Curtains’, the toe-curling spoken-word intro is forgotten as we’re bombarded by some incredibly technical and intricate musicianship from every corner. The rhythm section is particularly impressive and the production actually does both the bass (Benhur Lima) and drums justice, allowing them to provide a distinctly flamboyant backbone upon which to build. The initial lead guitar work is striking, as are the synths that add atmosphere and an oddly creepy circus vibe, entirely authentic to the concept story. The ebb and flow of what is essentially an instrumental piece is very welcome and it segues into ‘Trust Forged Knife’ with real aplomb.

It is here that the penny begins to drop after a few concentrated spins and I start to really warm to these obviously talented South Americans. The sheer force with which it opens is rather irresistible. Masseti finally gets to open his lungs and immediately draws comparisons with Russell Allen thanks to that gritty edge to his delivery. However, with a very capable range, he has ability to also sing more delicately and bring his uniqueness to bear. The melodies that creep through when the track quietens down in the mid-section grow on me with every listen to the point that I can’t wait to listen again.

There’s barely time to breathe because almost immediately a galloping and energetic bass line confronts us to usher in ‘Painted Smile’. The ensuing melodies are much more theatrical in nature with a vaguely waltz-like feel to them. The moody atmospheres are very prominent and there’s a similarity to the work of Beyond Twilight and their ‘For The Love of Art and the Making’ album in the overall vibe of the track.

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At well over an hour in length, you certainly get value for money with ‘The Circus of the Tattered and Torn’, although for some, this might seem a touch excessive. Indeed, I do think that the album could do with a bit of ruthless editing here and there to bring the running time down to a slightly more succinct length. But then, there are very few points within the album that I find my attention wandering. Even the piano and vocal interlude that’s ‘Windblown’ is worthy of its place on the album thanks to a build-up of intensity in the latter stages accompanied by a killer vocal melody from Masseti.

The riffs on this record courtesy of Masseti and Pereira are generally of an excellent standard, with ‘A Cup Of Agony’ acting as a superb example; full of crunch and brim full of vigour, they give the song a satisfyingly muscular appearance to counterbalance the intricacies and technicalities within the bombastic composition.

At over ten minutes in length, ‘Overhauling Wounds’ is not the longest song on this album but it is certainly one of my favourites. It has a slightly less intense and bombastic sheen to it thanks to the inclusion of acoustic guitars, an occasional foray into jazz territory and some relaxed but lush synths providing a lovely warmth to proceedings. It also allows Masseti a little more room in which to open his ample lungs and soar over the music with epic results.

The overt blues influence within ‘Collector Of Souls’ is yet another reminder of just how multi-faceted Daydream XI are. It isn’t a favourite, in spite of the crushing riffing, but I can admire the ambition that it represents. ‘Forgettable’ on the other hand displays a much more ‘classic’ progressive metal blueprint, not dissimilar to the likes of Dream Theater in the way that it manages to blend heaviness with subtle complexity and a certain amount of sophisticated serenity.

‘The Circus of the Tattered and Torn’ is then brought to a close via the truly epic 15-minute title track. What better way to complete such an ambitious and detailed record than with a composition that distills the preceding ten acts into one last full-on, over-the-top hurrah? It features plenty of drama thanks to the clever use of light and shade, strong atmospheric synths and is topped off by some musicianship out of the very top drawer.

After a very sticky start that led to me initially shelving it, ‘The Circus of the Tattered and the Torn’ has worked its way into my affections rather insidiously. But then, when I’m faced with an album of properly progressive music that’s genuinely heavy, is this really a surprise? I still wish that a few of the tracks made more of some of the melodies that are, in my opinion, a little underutilised. But that’s just personal taste and, to some extent, is me being a little churlish. If you like progressive metal to be bold, ambitious, riff-heavy and technically very adept, you will need to hear this album. It is most definitely the album to put Daydream XI into the well-deserved spotlight. I’m already looking forward to album number three…

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.0

If you’ve enjoyed this review, you can check out my others from previous years and for 2017 right here:

2015 reviews
2016 reviews

CyHra – Letters To Myself
Devoid – Cup of Tears
Ne Obliviscaris – Urn
Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony
Enslaved – E
Samael – Hegemony
Vuur – In This Moment We Are Free – Cities
Power Quest – Sixth Dimension
Iris Divine – The Static And The Noise
Daniel Cavanagh – Monochrome
White Moth Black Butterfly – Atone
Jag Panzer – The Deviant Chord
Vulture Industries – Stranger Times
Anubis Gate – Covered In Black
Protean Collective – Collapse
Cradle Of Filth – Cryproriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
TDW & Dreamwalkers Inc. – The Antithetic Affiliation
Caligula’s Horse – In Contact
Nocturnal Rites – Phoenix
Arch Enemy – Will To Power
Threshold – Legends Of The Shires
H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown
Dyscarnate – With All Their Might
Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond
Adagio – Life
Paradise Lost – Medusa
The Haunted – Strength In Numbers
Serious Black – Magic
Leprous – Malina
The Lurking Fear – Out of the Voiceless Grave
Prospekt – The Illuminated Sky
Wintersun – The Forest Seasons
Witherfall – Nocturnes And Requiems
Tuesday The Sky – Drift
Anthriel – Transcendence
Decapitated – Anticult
Cosmograf – The Hay-Man Dreams
Orden Ogan – Gunmen
Iced Earth – Incorruptible
Anathema – The Optimist
Solstafir – Berdreyminn
Dream Evil – Six
Avatarium – Hurricanes And Halos
Ayreon – The Source
Until Rain – Inure
MindMaze – Resolve
God Dethroned – The World Ablaze
Bjorn Riis – Forever Comes To An End
Voyager – Ghost Mile
Big Big Train – Grimspound
Lonely Robot – The Big Dream
Firespawn – The Reprobate
Ancient Ascendant
Pyramaze – Contingent
Shores Of Null – Black Drapes For Tomorrow
Asira – Efference
Hologram Earth – Black Cell Program
Damnations Day – A World Awakens
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Pallbearer – Heartless
Sleepmakeswaves – Made of Breath Only
Ghost Ship Octavius – Ghost Ship Octavius
Vangough – Warpaint
Telepathy – Tempest
Obituary – Obituary
Fen – Winter
Havok – Conformicide
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Svart Crown – Abreaction
Nova Collective – The Further Side
Immolation – Atonement
The Mute Gods – Tardigrades Will Inherit The Earth
Ex Deo – The Immortal Wars
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear
My Soliloquy – Engines of Gravity
Nailed To Obscurity – King Delusion
Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Battle Beast – Bringer Of Pain
Persefone – Aathma
Soen – Lykaia
Exquirla – Para Quienes Aun Viven
Odd Logic – Effigy
Mors Principium Est – Embers Of A Dying World
Firewind – Immortals
Slyde – Back Again EP
Sepultura – Machine Messiah
Deserted Fear – Dead Shores Rising
Kreator – Gods Of Violence
Borealis – World of Silence MMXVII
Pain of Salvation – In The Passing Light of Day

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