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The show goes on - 90%

joncheetham88, May 2nd, 2010

Disclosure is the second and final part of Manticora's The Black Circus, a project rivaling even the ambitious complexity of 8 Deadly Sins and the narrative of Hyperion. The story for The Black Circus is a Manticora original, impressive in its simple structure which nevertheless allows for diverse examinations of the human condition and our weakness under the influence of others.

Disclosure opens with more of a bang, if anything, than the crushing opener on the predecessor, with the mighty melodic thrash of 'Beauty Will Fade', Lars Larsen sounding as if his mouth is a mile wide. The atmosphere is darker and the melodies more depressive sounding, few chinks of light escaping from the relentless pounding of the sharp and heavy guitars and Larsen's imposing diction. The ambitious technicality has been ratcheted up a notch, with sweep-picked, shredding guitar lines and tight drum patterns.

The reason for this intensification is the advancement of The Black Circus' storyline. Letters saw him observing the morbid behaviour of the circus folk as an outsider, whereas here he has become one of the gypsies (following a resolution he made at the end of the first album). Where before the music was descriptive in its articulation of carnivalesque insanity, here it is born directly from that madness, explaining the looser structures and schizophrenic shifts in temperament. As if to emphasize the music as the expression of the character's mental state directly instead of his thoughts, the reflective intunerics that before saw the central character questioning what was going on around him are now bereft of narration, featuring instrumental pieces of music instead.

There are in fact only five full songs here, one less than the previous album, but they are larger in scale and longer in length, more progressive if that was possible. While 'Gypsies' Dance Pt. 1' was one of the tracks that made the first album so great, the sequel here surpasses it. A truly glorious and epic section opens and closes it that makes Don Giovanni seem a little undeveloped in terms of scale, leading into hyperactive speed metal that sounds like Painkiller-era Judas Priest on crack, over two full minutes of adrenalin-filled instrumental skull-destroying before Lars is back in with all the hesitation of a paternally enraged alpha gorilla.

The short interludes between each track integrate better on Disclosure, establishing the mood of the following song and improving the disc's cohesion. 'Haita Di Lupi' meanwhile is a short and highly virtuoso technical metal instrumental built around a mournful yet rapid motif on the spanish guitar reminiscent of Isaac Albeniz' 'Asturias.' It's really, really exciting, I shit you not. Building on the themes introduced by the instrumentals, 'When the Soulreapers Cry' bears the memory of 'Haita Di Lupi' and 'Intuneric V' before it, matching their acoustic melancholy with thumping drums and lightning shredding.

I cannot listen to Letters but I have to hear this immediately after. The desparate, building tension of the melodic riffs in 'All That Remain' and the accompanying apocalyptic guitar solos create an air of finality that draws on the rest of the two discs before to add weight to the climactic, epic closer to the saga, 'Of Madness in its Purity.' Despite the catchiness and pace of the eleven full songs on the two albums, they immediately shed their magic when extracted from their intended running order and context. The same applies to the two discs; listening to one independently can deliver only half as much emotion and impression as setting aside the time to hear all ninety minutes of this unbelievably well-executed opera of power metal.