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And the Circus passes through.... - 80%

enshrinedtemple, May 24th, 2016

“Yeah, yeah put it in gear baby, that’s what I like about you baby, you are always on time”
And the Circus Leaves town was the final studio album by the legendary Kyuss. Kyuss would endure another lineup change. Brant Bjork the drummer would ride off into the sunset and Kyuss would carry on minus two members. Not to minimize the departure of Oliveri but losing Bjork had to be a punch in the gut. Bjork had so many contributions that went above just playing the drums. The songwriting process included Bjork and he was very instrumental to the bands previous two albums. Circus is a very flawed album, but still it’s got its fair share of quality material and shining moments. Circus is not comparable to their past glories however as the band struggles to the finish line.

The music itself is quite enjoyable despite the shortcomings and the politics involved with the musicians. There is solid single like songs but there is a lack of cohesion to me. Every song to me sounds good by itself but within the context of the album, it just sounds like typical Kyuss. Nothing really new or trailblazing that the band did not already do much better. It plays more like a collection of good songs rather than a cohesive effort from their past. If you like Kyuss, you can put these on and find plenty to enjoy

One Inch Man is one of the songs that is really killer and works as a single. It does have a music video attached to it that is also entertaining. Its catchy and the video conjures up psychedelic imagery with the band playing. This song embodies what Kyuss are about. A little humorous, but at the same time hard rocking and serious. Their more serious side shows up on El Rodeo. It’s a really heavy track that keeps building. It probably could have worked as an instrumental but Garcia uttering the phrase RODEO just sounds so good!

Looking at the song titles, it looks like Kyuss were starting over as a band. They let a lot of humor shine through with titles like Tangy Zizzle and Thee Ol’ Boozeroony. Perhaps the desert and the band politics really got to them so they wanted to make light of the situation they were in. Or they were just on a lot of drugs. It definitely sounds like they had a lot of fun recording what could have been a train wreck.

The Circus was indeed leaving town after all. As they say all good things must come to end. There is a little bit of disappointment due to high expectations but one can only expect so much for so long. I applaud the members of Kyuss for fighting through issues when they needed to and letting it come to a graceful end. Yes, I am ignoring the subsequent reunions of Kyuss Lives and Vista Chino. This is not a place to get into those but I agree more with Josh’s side of the coin. Why reunite and further tarnish? There are plenty of moments where I see the other side of the argument too. I can listen to Vista Chino but it just makes me think of Kyuss and the great music they created.

We all know that Circus is Kyuss last studio album and Josh Homme would go on to form Queens of the Stone Age and John Garcia would go on to form Unida. They knew it was time for Kyuss to be done after Circus was completed. They knew the spark was dying out and I commend them for that. Rather than letting themselves get too stale, they quit before worse things would inevitably come. If Kyuss kept going, I am sure it would have just been Mr. Garcia steering the ship and it would not have worked. In doing this honorable deed, Kyuss cemented their legacy as the premier stoner and desert metal band.

... and Brant Bjork Leaves Kyuss - 83%

Doominance, November 30th, 2015

In the early to mid 90s, it seemed like everything was going swimmingly for Californian desert rock band Kyuss. A decent debut album ('Wretch') lead to a great second album ('Blues for the Red Sun'), which then further escalated the band's path to greatness with their best ever release (self-titled album, but commonly known as 'Welcome to Sky Valley'). 'Sky Valley' was recorded in 1993, but released in 1994 due to some contract issues with the label. That would prove to be the least of their problems, since internal issues had erupted between primary songwriters Josh Homme and Brant Bjork. This resulted in Bjork leaving the band. This meant that close friend to the band Alfredo Hernandez (Across The River, Yawning Man, Che, Queens of the Stone Age) would handle the drumming for Kyuss' fourth and final effort '... and the Circus Leaves Town'.

With Brant Bjork's departure, the band was a songwriter short, so vocalist John Garcia played a bigger role in the songwriting now. He wrote "One Inch Man", for instance, which has become a trademark Kyuss track and received airplay on MTV some time after its release. Garcia also took part in writing "Hurricane" and "Gloria Lewis", but these songs are very straight-forward and aren't especially great. This brings us to the point on what makes 'Circus' a weaker effort than both 'Blues for the Red Sun' and 'Welcome to Sky Valley': the lack of Brant Bjork's songwriting! This is no diss on John Garcia; he's a good vocalist with a very distinctive voice and fantastic charisma, but his songwriting pales in comparison to Bjork's songwriting; a man responsible for classics such as "Green Machine", "Gardenia" and "Whitewater", and more. The songs mentioned now are better than 90% of the music on '... and the Circus Leaves Town'.

On a positive note, there are some very, very good songs on 'Circus', too. "One Inch Man"; while simple, is a fun, little ditty with a memorable chorus. "Thee Ol' Boozeroony" is a short instrumental piece with a great beat and awesome bassline provided by Scott Reeder. "Phototropic" has a laid-back, dreamy intro before breaking into a heavier and more straight-forward style and Garcia performing well vocally. "Catamaran" is a song originally written by Alfredo Hernandez and his friend in Across the River (this included bassist Scott Reeder), but Kyuss' rendition of the song does it justice and it stands out as the best song on 'Circus' alongside "Phototropic". "Catamaran" features a "floaty" guitar with a relaxed vibe and a neat bassline, but breaks into heavier sections for the chorus; much like "Phototropic". Album closer "Spaceship Landing" is also worth a mention. An 11 minute epic of fuzzy deliciousness. But the best part of the song is actually the hidden track called "Day One"; a song dedicated to Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl after the passing of Kurt Cobain. A slow, but very Nirvana-like track.

'... and the Circus Leaves Town' would probably have sounded much different with Brant Bjork, as he was the primary songwriter of Kyuss. I can't help but think that his talent for writing very atmospheric music would add another, different, layer to the music on this album. It would perhaps feel more complete and have a better, more natural flow. But with that said, 'Circus' is an album worth a heavy rocker's time. The album is a bit weaker than 'Blues' and 'Sky Valley', but stronger than 'Wretch'; and most other "stoner rock" albums.

...and Brant Bjork Leaves the Band - 75%

Xyston, April 26th, 2014

“…and the Circus Leaves Town” is Kyuss’ fourth and final full-length album, released just a few months prior to their untimely break-up in 1995. While its general quality does demonstrate that the desert gods ended their gig on a respectable note, that’s really the brightest perspective one can take on “…Circus”; with the departure of original drummer/founding member/musical genius Brant Bjork, the circus truly was on its way out of town, and the band knew it. Indeed, Bjork was one of the creative powerhouses of Kyuss – alongside guitarist Josh Homme – and his incredible songwriting is perceptibly absent on this record, which yields a few gems but fails to constantly captivate the listener like the previous two full-lengths do.

Nevertheless, it’d be quite unfair to suggest that "...Circus" captures some significant musical demise of Kyuss, as it's generally an inviting record. The opening couple of tracks “Hurricane” and “One Inch Man” are undeniably excellent, being catchy and concise numbers that retain the signature effervescent fuzz of Kyuss while enjoying a somewhat new, moodier feel. The former works very well as the record opener with its quick driving pace (albeit far more relaxed than “Green Machine” or “100 Degrees"), while “One Inch Man” is a Kyuss classic featuring unbelievable interplay between Homme’s timeless riffs and Scott Reeder’s uniquely grooving bass. Reeder bathes in the spotlight on a number of other occasions throughout the record, and "Thee Ol' Boozeroony" is a particularly great example of his punchy bass lines combining perfectly with Homme’s eccentric melodies and pummeling chords.

Although these few tracks amply demonstrate that Kyuss’ strings section hasn’t lost its vitality, we take the first true dip into the mundane with “Gloria Lewis”. John Garcia puts on an outstanding vocal performance here, yet he’s the only really enjoyable thing to take note of on this song. Homme’s working a gigantic Iommi-ish riff to death, complemented by a plodding beat and a dangerously restrained Reeder for four minutes, really going nowhere. Surely, this is an example of a song that could’ve been quite different if Bjork had his hand in its writing process. This might at first seem like plain conjecture coming from a seasoned Bjork fanboy, but considering how we’re discussing the guy who composed such Kyuss epics as “Gardenia” and “50 Million Year Trip” (with co-credit on many others), it’s not an insensible position to suggest that his former bandmates were missing his magic. Thus, in places where we could've had greatness and consistency on “…Circus”, we instead receive filler – perhaps not 'conscious filler', but certainly filler nonetheless. Songs such as “El Rodeo” and “Jumbo Blimp Jumbo” further illustrate this problem; neither is horrible, but they're hardly exciting and feature pretty goofy riffs and structures (take that cheesy Latin riff from “El Rodeo”, for example, or the annoying start-stop tempo changes of “Jumbo Blimp Jumbo”, which likewise suffers from a lack of real riffs).

However, credit has to be given where it’s due, and there’s definitely more credit to be directed towards the final Kyuss record than criticism. The undeniable highlight of the album is “Phototropic”, and if there’s inarguable proof that the Kyuss gents could still create definitive works of majesty without Bjork, it’s to be found in this song. Just as Kyuss conjure atmospheres of awe, empowerment, and mystery at the best moments of “Blues for the Red Sun” and “Welcome to Sky Valley”, “Phototropic” harnesses the raw energy of the desert with its remarkably transcendent, almost spiritual aura. The spacey first half of the track, somewhat jammy but altogether serious and self-conscious in its elegant feel and execution, is a Kyuss moment as glorious as any other – meaning it’s as good as stoner rock gets. The transition to the aggressive second half finely complements this laidback intro, showcasing a particularly memorable performance by Garcia although all members shine. Meanwhile, the album-closing epic “Spaceship Landing” at 11 minutes proper is certainly the most dynamic song on the record, and firmly demonstrates (like “Phototropic”) that Kyuss minus Bjork are capable of doing some serious damage and being creative as well. The quiet section nearing the end of the piece (“Why the finger? It’s alright”) should get every stoner fan tingling, and the song's shifts between heavier and lighter passages keep it highly engaging. Easily one of the best on "...Circus", and hard proof that Kyuss never lost the will to push their music to its limits, even in the face of their decline.

Overall, “…and the Circus Leaves Town” is certainly not a poor release, and contains a number of memorable tunes which indicate that a genuine effort was put into its composition. However, the absence of founding member Brant Bjork clearly had an impact on the overall product of “...Circus”. Indeed, it’s essentially impossible for the Kyuss fan to view this album outside of the context of Bjork’s departure, as this deprived the band of his creative ingenuity and ultimately set the stage for their dissolution. Still, it's also evident that Homme’s riffs just aren’t quite as commanding as they should be on some tracks here, despite how tempting it may be for some to completely attribute this album’s shortcomings to Bjork’s absence. In the end, “…Circus” may put many stoner outfits to shame despite only being a decent album by Kyuss’ standards; enjoyable stoner rock/metal but far from the glory of the preceding two records. While “One Inch Man” and “Phototropic” are among some of the best tracks of their discography – clear testaments to Kyuss’ status as gods of stoner rock/metal – they reside amidst a level of inconsistency that was largely unheard during Bjork’s tenure in the band.

The one and only - 100%

hirnlego, January 24th, 2007

It all began in 1994, when I came across the predecessor to this masterpiece. That encounter changed something in my perception of heavy music. This was the sound of early Black Sabbath transformed directly into its Nineties manifestation. And two years later, things even got better, before they got worse (band-split).

'...And the Circus leaves town' is Kyuss' swansong, and if I had to choose, THE heavy album to be taken on a desert island (including of course a powerful stereo system and electric power...) and thus deserving the 100% rating. Compared to the eponymous album, it might take a bit longer with this one to get into it, as the music is - let me put it that way: more relaxed than the old stuff.

However, things do start heavy, but not perfect with the opener 'Hurricane' - a rather common piece of music, steady but not extraordinary. Things get different with 'One Inch Man', the 'hit' of the album, which got some airplay on MTV. The unconventional riff, interrupted by shrieking sounds are literally creeping into ones head.
Another positive development on this album is the balance between the (semi)acoustic / calm parts and the heavy and driving ones. The best examples might be 'Phototropic' and 'El Rodeo', both starting quite gentle and developing towards thunderous climaxes. 'Catamaran' and 'Size Queen' mix smooth verses with powerful choruses.
Noteworthy as well the song titles, 'Thee of Boozeroony' and 'Jumbo Blimp Jumbo' being chosen for the instrumentals.

The very end, and what a worthy end it is, is represented by the epic 'Spaceship Landing', my most favourite track on my most favourite album, and yet so hard to describe. This piece is best enjoyed with eyes closed on endless repeat (unfortunately the song is 11 min long and followed by 20 min of hidden track...)

'...and the circus leaves town' was the most elegant, the heaviest but not loudest, the most fascinating piece of Rock'n'Roll ever made, and it's a pity that this unique band broke up at the zenith of their creativity - and maybe on the verge of stardom (And damn, I already had the ticket to a concert when they split 2 weeks before).

And the circus leaves town - 70%

Sheldon, April 6th, 2006

This was the bands final full length album, and it has to be said that with the loss of Drummer Brant Bjork, some of the flair and power to their music has also been lost. No discredit to Hermandez, but the same genius that was there on Sky Valley and Blues has just gone. This is still a fantastic heavy rock album, but by Kyuss standards it is a little weak.

The opening track kicks the album off promisingly, with Hurricane, despite having nothing new to offer from previous works, will still leave your neighbours wishing you were dead. One inch man calms things down a bit, with a catchy opening riff with signature thrumbing bass that put Kyuss on the map. But after this, the album slows down a little too much, with tracks like Gloria Lewis and Phototropic never really picking up.

But the album does redeem itself somewhat with the three closing tracks, Size Queen, Catamaran and Spaceship landing. Each progress the Kyuss sound further. Size Queen sees a fantastic vocal performance from Garcia, in fact his voice is one of the things that really came along on this album, boasting more melody before and being more varied than on previous works. Catamaran, again far more melodic vocals, and this time clean guitars to match, and the thrumbing bass, so prominent on the other tracks, only makes itself known in the chorus. It is like no other track they have done before. The final track, Spaceship Landing, is over ten minutes long, Kyuss are accustumed to writing tracks of epic size and proportions in the past, but this track, despite being long, has a more dark and sincister kind of theme. It does not put you in mind of vast sweeping desert scenery, it is more of a back to basics rock number, with a few breaks in it (10 minutes of thrumbing bass would numb even the most dedicated Kyuss fan).

This album, despite showing a new direction for Kyuss, lacks the shear size and uniqueness of Sky Valley or Blues for the red sun. It was to be the last they made to, and despite it's many flaws, it is still well worth a listen. Kyuss breaking up did however mean that bands like Queens of the Stone Age could come into being, boasting a more tight sound, they filled the hole that had been left in the wake of Kyuss.

muchas gracias, dudes - 90%

ironasinmaiden, April 19th, 2003

...And the Circus Leaves town was Kyuss's farewell record... upset with label support (or lack thereof) and apparently frustrated with the feared "stoner rock" buzz, desert rock's finest mounted their chariots of fire and rode off into the sunset. The result is a spacey and decidely less go for the throat record. Hints of ideas that would later appear with Queens of the Stone Age are quite apparent. I believe the album cover says it all... moody, blue and less "warm" than Sky Valley or Blues for the Red Sun.

Songs like Hurricane and El Rodeo are straightforward, classic Kyuss. That means rumbling bass, fuzzed out riffs and John Garcia's primal screaming. Naturally, it rocks and rocks fucking hard. Ironically, 'Circus' is Kyuss's most "stoner" album.... listen to Gloria Lewis's intro on some bubonic chronic and you'll probably see Jesus or something. Bleeps and "farrrr out" special effects galore.

Size Queen and Catamaran are proto-QOTSA.... the nasal vocals, unconventional songwriting and interesting rhythms are all in place. The experimental tracks are definitely highlights.... a welcome diversion from the hard rock formula. Spaceship Landing, a 12 minute epic of sorts, rounds things out with a bang... or a thud

Perhaps the premature demise of Kyuss was a good thing... we got some damn good spinoffs out of it, and an incredible series of records. Kyuss was ahead of its time musically and inspired more bands than you can count on one hand. These guys are fucking legends and the gods of stoner rock eternally. RIP

...And the circus leaves town - 85%

Raw_man, February 3rd, 2003

While many of today's bands have at least 8 members with violins, fiddles, and at least two keyboards, Kyuss represented the basic approach : just pick up guitar, bass, get a drummer, add some sparse vocals and go. A music that you can actually play with your friends in a garage without enlarging it to accomodate all the band and equipment. While I don't say that this style is better than the complex one by definition, it is still good that there are bands like this. Or in case of Kyuss, sadly, were.

In my opinion, this album is their best if not by far, then by a considerable margin. I like the songs here more, as simple as that. The production is still
muddy, the sound is really basic, but that's what Kyuss were about. The vocals are somewhat less rare than on previous albums, but still there are a lot of instrumental parts, and I really respect that. Again, too many bands nowadayas afraid to add an instrumental to an album and that's a shame. Kyuss never get too technical, there are very few solos, but the rhythm is tight as a glove. Bass is audible, sometimes even more than the guitar, and the bass lines are always perfect.

And main point, some of the songs here are simply great and simple! It's not Dream Theater-like catchiness, but closer to 'Johnny B. Goode' catchiness. On some parts Kyuss sound closer to 50s spirit than Black Sabbath ever were, although it is only my opinion.

Now, to song by song breakdown :

1. Hurricane - I don't like this song so much, it doesn't stand out, and the
production here is too muddy. Although it is still kind of a good way to start an album - only the other songs are better.

2. One inch man - This is the more known song from this album, and I even saw its video on TV. That song is what Kyuss are about, really simple riff leads into the song and then the catchiness begins.

3. Thee Ol' Boozeroony - The first instrumental on the album. I really like the
riffage here and the bass is great! Again a very typical Kyuss song.

4. Gloria Lewis - A bit of a letdown. It is not much different in style from other
songs, but I just like it less. Usually I skip to the next one.

5. Phototropic - This is my favourite Kyuss song. A dreamy intro fills the first 2 minutes, with bass and guitar playing the perfect roles. Only at about 2:20 the singing begins shortly after guitar flipped on its distortion and the song is a real treat to play and to listen to. I could not say that Kyuss are heavy - I've heard too much Death Metal for that, but I can say that they are Metal. The spirit is there, and this song proves it.

6. El Rodeo - A lonely guitar begins the song with a blues lick and shortly another perfect bass line starts to accompany it. Again a great song, although here and on many other songs I have an issue with lyrics. It's stoner rock so it doesn't have to be Shakespeare, but still it should be better.

7. Jumbo Blimp Jumbo - The second instrumental, and again Kyuss don't miss the mark. Simple and good, doesn't differ much in style from the first instrumental.

8. Tangy Zizzle - I like this and the following song somewhat less - just my
personal taste.There is no change in style, I just think that the quality here
drops down somewhat.

9. Size Queen

10. Catamaran - This is another great example of a perfect bass line. Guitar begins with a clean sound strumming and bass again joins for one of the most perfect rhythms I've ever heard. I believe this songs is a cover of one of the members' previous bands. Well, it is good! Guitar gets dirty on chorus, but basically the same riffage and bass line carry this short song until the end.

11. Spaceship Landing - This is the long song of the album. I think it features the only 'proper' guitar solo, and it is a great way to finish things. It is not as
catchy as the previous songs, and Kyuss are definitely not the masters of the epic songwriting, but it is really good. They could not refrain themselves from messing a bit with a hidden track, but that can be forgiven.

In short, a stoner rock/Metall classic, and the best Kyuss album!

Highlights : One inch man, Thee Ol' Boozeroony, Phototropic, El Rodeo, Jumbo Blimp Jumbo, Catamaran