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Shadow Circus - Welcome to the Freakroom CD (album) cover

WELCOME TO THE FREAKROOM

Shadow Circus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.32 | 55 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's good to see new symphonic-rock bands emerge in a time when most progressive-rock fans tend to disregard everything that sounds retro as "derivative" and everything that sounds new as "unique", even though good-and-bad-quality music can be found in either of them.

Many experts on this genre have already spoken. I'll just limit myself to mention my impressions of the record. SHADOW CIRCUS' debut is a really enjoyable, if somewhat flat, experience.

As it has been said before, the music this band play in "Welcome to the Freakroom" is hardly groundbreaking, but it's very well-crafted. The style has more to do, in my view, with classical American hard-progressive-rock a la KANSAS more than with traditional symphonic rock. Instead of that typical "Brit" sound of most neo-prog bands, SHADOW CIRCUS show their roots as an Americana band, with many references to traditional genres, including some sections that sound almost like country music ("In the Wake of a Dancing Flame" probably being the best example of this.)

The structures in the songs are quite straightforward, and there's little of the thematic development or the extended soloing that one usually hears in traditional symphonic rock bands. But, at the same time, the songs are longer than average, feature more instrumental sections than in typical rock, and we have a multi-sectioned semi-epic at the end of the album. The keyboards are very important in this band's sound, as are the guitars.

The musicianship is good if never stellar. The guitars and keys are well-played, the drums are simple yet effective, the bass is very interesting, The vocals are a mixed-bag: at times charming and even brilliant, at times weak. They remind me of Walsh, sometimes of singers like STP's Weiland.

The melodies are OK, nothing extraordinaire. The best song in the album may well be the opener, "Shadow Circus". "Radio People" seems like their shot at popularity, but the chorus is slightly annoying. "Journey of Everyman", their collage at the end, starts in excellent fashion with a very atmospheric instrumental intro, but then, when the second section arrives, it seems like glued-on artificially. It doesn't sound like a true epic but like three independent sections that the band had written and that needed to go in the album. It's a mixed success.

In the end, "Welcome to The Freakroom" is a very pleasant debut by SHADOW CIRCUS. The band is still far from being a big contender for today's best symphonic bands (THE TANGENT, THE FLOWER KINGS, among many others), but it shows promise, and deserves 3 stars.

The T | 3/5 |

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