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Shadow Circus - Welcome To The Freakroom CD (album) cover


Shadow Circus


Symphonic Prog

3.33 | 72 ratings

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4 stars Nice debut by American symph prg rockers, Shadow Circus. It's one thing to discover an up and coming prog band, be a bit fascinated by it, but you know in the back of your mind that you won't venture past a disc or two. It's a completely different thing when you're so taken by a disc by an unknown band and know that you are on to something special. You can't wait for the next album!

The disc launches from the gate with swirling keyboards and a soaring intro with the band's namesake song. Excellent solo by guitarist John Fontana about 5 minutes in that reminds me a lot of Tom Scholz of the band Boston. Nice little blend of quirkiness by vocalist David Lawrence Bobick.

One of my favorite tracks is the second entitled "Storm Rider". Starts off with a Kansas feel with nice piano adding a bit of a Springsteen-ish/Roy Bittan quality to it. Again, a true highlight is John's guitar solo about halfway through that blends into a nice harmonious marriage with the synths.

"Inconvenient Compromise" starts off with a sound like Rush's "Dreamline" from Roll The Bones briefly, but suddenly changes moods with a beautiful piano interlude. Very nice how the songs takes on a schyzophrenic personality that's a bit manic, but then takes off with some very nice melodies. Just amazing arrangement on this particular song with about a minute and a half to go--this band really shows of their chops on this tune.

"Radio People" starts off with an almost 80's hair metal anthem, but don't let that turn you off (if 80's hair metal isn't your thing). At about 5 1/2 minutes long, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek and lighthearted, while at the same being a social commentary. Actually makes for a nice break while venturing through the Freakroom--you can't help but tap your feet to this one.

"In The Wake Of A Dancing Flame" rolls in with a nice drum pattern reminiscent of Cozy Powell, accompanied with a nice Hammond Organ; although, the vocals could be delivered in a different way and doesn't quite hold up to the powerful music. What strikes me on this song and on the others is the beautiful piano underlining the music. I hate to use the same Roy Bittan comparison, but both keyboardists create an almost carnival-like atmosphere with their swirling pianos. It's one reason why I appreciate Springsteen's music, and now Shadow Circus. You put this together with an almost sitar esque solo by Fontana, the song simply takes you to another state. Absolutely sublime!

We start to exit the Freakroom with the mini epic, "Journey Of Everyman" to more exquisite piano rising above beautiful orchestration. Until a Van Halen's 1984-like synth catapults us into the stratosphere with a solo that sounds like something right off of a Boston album circa 1977. Once the storm passes, however, the intro slows down to a calming pace. The song suddenly picks up, slows down, but lurches forward again in a manic pace of flying drumsticks and whirling guitars. This band knows how to tell a story with music in a way that's not unlike Transatlantic. It's defintely one of my favorites from the Freakroom.

Shadow Circus and The Puppet Show have been two very positive discoveries in 2007 so far. If I did have one complaint, I only wished they had longer epics that clocked way past the longest track at 11 minutes, 46 seconds (me being the epic junkie that I am). Still, it doesn't detract from a VERY strong debut by a band for whom will be around for a long time to come. 4 very strong stars!

E-Dub | 4/5 |


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