Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Shadow Circus - Whispers And Screams CD (album) cover


Shadow Circus


Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 90 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars You've heard the screams in the night, the distant whistle that whispers to you from deep in far meadows, and you've turned away and buried yourself further in your bedclothes, curled up closer to your lover for fear of being found.

You have heard about it. You have read the reviews. You know that it's out there, waiting for you.

The Shadow Circus rides the world's dark rails once again with whispers and screams ...

Will you please go to the window, draw up the blinds and let the night air in? Will you finally listen for that long dark train?

Will you make your way down that closed off path onto the railway you once walked as a child, now abandoned with tracks torn up and overhead grown thick with swaying brambles arms that reach down to cut thin red crescents across your furrowed brow, carrying your own secret freight alone with hot breath pluming?

There are also hidden burrs in the rows of encroaching grass turned over like fallen waves of ancient soldiers waiting to attach themselves to your shoes and you carry them with you into a clearing where you emerge to see a young girl in white standing with her back to you in the mouth of the arch of the old stone trestle.

She is milk white yet no moon with black hair that swells and undulates like an ink sea, though there is no wind. You go to her and place your hand upon her translucent shoulder, cold and tacky as the skin slides easily over the bone, and turn her to you ... and then you watch as she throws her head back with clawed hands to her face and screams.

You recoil as suddenly a mass of crows manifest and bursts from the thicket of her hair and rockets up and away in a whirlwind as she claws at her herself in terror. The whirring bustle of wings forms a raucous tornado that extends to the sky circling with her screaming, crows screaming, and begins to move out into the field beyond the tracks, swaying back and forth as sensuous hips would down a darkened hallway.

The cacophony of screams that fill your head appear to be collected and forged by unseen masters into measures and bars of music that soon rumble, pound and then soar to grab hold of your heart holding you there, transfixed ... waiting, watching and listening as the musical tide soon recedes and washes as ocean waves over sandy shores and whispers to you ... and becomes the sliding silent charge through the trestle of the Shadow Circus train.

As quietly as it arrives the train stops, belching white smoke thick that rushes forward and quickly overcomes you stale with scents that were at one time rich and fragrant but are now overripe and stagnant, and through it the orange glow of the boiler window materializes like the approaching eyes of a cat and a dark man appears in a dark suit and looks out over the engine, his face painted white with red lips that part - he smiles as he tips his bowler hat to you. You can hear music coming from all of the cars drifting towards you, you can feel it in the very vibration of the still air set to life, you can sense it now as the poisoned symphony invades and courses through your body that each car possesses its own personality and flair yet are all variations on a theme and are all from a whisper to a scream. You are mesmerized and step forward.

Down by the wheels of the first car you see a girl. There is a light mist that mingles with the steam that seems to surround her, and as you approach you realize that she sits huddled back under the car from rain that falls only upon her. She is as fragile as a bird folded up and she raises her head to you and you see paint running from her eyes, cheeks and lips, a fallen angel here on the tracks of the past. Just as you are about to lean down and offer your hand to say "Daddy loves you, please don't cry", the rich cigar smoke of barristers in back rooms pours down from the car and overtakes you, snakes down and curls around the girl consuming her gone without a sound. You sigh and reach for the rail, cold in your hand, and pull yourself up with the memory of her face burned deep into your mind.

A dry wind blasts you as you enter the first car - it's as if you have entered a furnace. In the shimmering haze you're astonished to see men, women and children strewn across the seats and in the aisles pale with mouths agape and spigots of sweat pushing through their blistered foreheads to break and run draining them ... pooling in the cusps of the clasped hands of families ... absorbed into the clothing wrenched open at the neck of businessmen and women ... staining the Byzantine cloth fabric of the seats, window drapes and carpeting.

You rush forward to exit at the rear of the car and burst headlong into yet another fever dream of death from this unknown illness; more men, women and children are propped and piled up through which you run further to get away - on into the next car with more of the same sinister scene though these poor folks seem to be from another part of the country, as are the people in the next car, and the next and you come to realize that you run an illusory race across a dying country through the cars. It is then that you see the dark man from the boiler windows appearing again just ahead of your vision (perhaps an apparition). He turns from you and disappears into the next car.

"Hey!" You chase after him yet he always seems to remain just ahead of your vision, and it is in this chase for the dark man that you suddenly hear horses galloping hard at your heels, riding heavily through the cars that rock and sway and stagger you from side to side. You feel their bursts of breath at your back, hot from the bellows of hell. Panic seizes your limbs and makes them sluggish. You move as if through waist deep water and reach for the door and finally take hold and push with all of your remaining strength and then finally slip through ... into a car from another world.

A black and white world: a car crisp with contrasts of dark and light and warm tones of sunlight within which a lone gentleman, a businessman it seems, sits swaying gently. His hat is tipped back upon his head, his tie undone and pulled carelessly away from his throat - he turns slowly from the flickering slide show at the window and notices you. He smiles.

"Will you be getting off at Willoughby today," he asks? You notice that there is the slightest hint of perspiration glistening on his furrowed brow, along the upturned corners of his mouth. Quickly, you walk past him to the back of the train without answering. He says as you reach for the door, "Sunshine and serenity. You don't know what you're missing. It's heaven."

You exit into blessed fresh air that cools your skin and the clothes stuck to you, simmering down your experience behind closed eyes, and as you step down you are surprised that the morning has come to a world full of color again ... but wait ... you turn back confused and see that the Shadow Circus train has gone.

You hear your name being called. Calling your name your lover comes from that dark path filled in with light now - the brambles arms benign and infused with blue sky, the overgrown grass laden with dew - and enters the clearing offering you a hand. You smile and rush to take the hand and clutch it as if to be saved from drowning. And then you turn from the railway trestle to walk home without looking back, a different song in your head and heart though thunder still rumbles up from the horizon, as it always will as sure as the morning comes in July ....

Now ... will you still turn away? Will you finally heed the call?

4 stars ... their masterpiece is still on the horizon, but will surely come.

rustedsynapse | 4/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this SHADOW CIRCUS review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives