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Shadow Circus - Whispers And Screams CD (album) cover

WHISPERS AND SCREAMS

Shadow Circus

 

Symphonic Prog

3.79 | 78 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Take your stand.

Well, it's been over a year since I last reviewed for ProgArchives, but hey - I'm still alive and kicking and there's even an album that brought me back for at least one more go. Now I've never really been a fan of the American symphonic progressive scene with the exception of perhaps a couple of the better Spock's Beard albums - and to be honest the retro scene has even become very tiring as of late, although that could be seen from a mile away since they were just going off the nostalgia of the true progressive giants of the 70s. So by construction this little band is something that likely wouldn't appeal to me. And yet... it really does.

I've been weary recently of bands that have been breaking out the 30-minute+ tracks in the last couple of years. It's a trend that's seen some good music, but a lot of pretentious, sprawling, musical wanks have come out of it as well. Like the 70s bands who did the same thing and sealed their graves by doing so, the retro scene may not be able to hold itself if it continued in this way. However, like I said, there's been some good music coming out of it as well. Ambitiously, Shadow Circus decided to go all out on their sophomore effort by writing an epic track inspired by Steven King's "The Stand". Project Blue is a 30-minute+ track that is well worth listening to. Perhaps it's because they broke it up into several distinct parts, or perhaps it's Shadow Circus's unique sound, but everything comes together so well that it's hard to hate.

Like the band said it would be for this album, there's "more shadow and less circus" to be had. Which is great, because while the debut certainly benefited from the "twisted circus" sound, bringing it on for a second album would have been really gimmicky. Instead the band have reinvented themselves, going for the more "dark" sound. Although not so dark that it just seems like they're a bunch of emo kids hiding in their rooms for attention (a la Pendragon). This album is heavier and with more balls than their first, and that's awesome.

Aside from the big, epic track there's a lot of worthwhile material on here. Most noteworthy of the bunch is Willoughby, the 10-minute pseudo-epic that shows a band in transition. If you go back to any of the greats and listen to any of their albums you'll always find a song that shows style from the previous album mixed with the one that they're currently on and shades of what's to come next. On this album that song is Willoughby, a fun and bouncy song at times that goes through time and tone changes, expresses excellent solos from every angle and comes together perfectly.

All in all a fantastic album that was well worth the wait. Saying that it's better than the first album is a bit of an unfair statement because they're two completely separate entities. This one just happened to appeal to me more. Definitely recommended for anyone who is losing faith in the modern progressive scene or anyone who heard the first album and thought the band had potential. My guess is that there can only be more good things in store from this band. 4 Circuses out of 5! An Excellent album.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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