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Shadow Circus - Whispers And Screams CD (album) cover


Shadow Circus


Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 90 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This record will set you to burn!

Shadow Circus' sophomore effort is no less than a very creative and diverse Prog album from the 21st century. Please take note that belonging to the Symphonic sub-genre in this site and being from the 00's doesn't mean it has to sound like The Flower Kings and all related bands. No, Shadow Circus pretty much belongs to a wilder style of Symphonic Prog, not simply keeping to the roots of 20+ minute epics, blasting synths and soaring mellotrons and up-lifting melodies; Whispers & Screams introduces the very own Shadow Circus trademark sound which is a milligram of circus-esque music plus blues, hard rock and even a bit of indo-prog to the Symphonic Prog we all know.

Starting with the 30+ minute suite called Project Blue, which is splitted wisely in seven parts which avoids making the epic dense as some of the long epics from nowadays are. The first part entitled Captain Trips shows a strong and powerful beginning to the epic, with a blasting guitar/organ riff with loud drums accompanying it. As soon as David Bobick's peculiar vocals enter, the music gets catchier, however there are classy symphonic interludes within this first part in which David's vocals are rather hard to digest in first listens, but certainly being on purpose, after repeated listens it is just making a notable distinguishment from the rest of the modern day accessbile soft vocalists. The first part finishes with two kick-ass solos by John Fontana's synths and guitar.

The second part called The Long Road continues the themes from Captain Trips with some new interludes mainly made by John's piano, but overall this part has a less rockin' feel. The Long Road also features a very nice variation from David's voice, there's the peculiar style of David but also a gentle, yet very unique, kind of voice. This second part finishes in a very symphonic manner with heavy guitars and lush keyboards, but as soon as this ends, the third part called The Big Fire begins in a very hypnotic psychedelic way with the keyboards and guitar. However, Shadow Circus changes this mood abruptly returning to the rock manner with some great funky influences.

Part four of the suite named The Seduction of Harold Lauder is entirely instrumental which returns to the symphonic way of the first part with plenty of splendid organ resembling Emerson, Lake & Palmer or the Kaye-era from Yes; indeed a great transition to my favorite part of the epic, which is part five. Part five, entitled The Horsemen Ride, has Shadow Circus playing in the way of Shakti(!), yes the group compromised by John McLaughlin and L. Shankar playing wild indo music. However, unlike Shakti, Shadow Circus just focused on the instrumentation of indian-esque music and not the virtuosity needed for it, that means you've got Corey Folta playing some grabbing percussion and John playing his acoustic guitar. However, it's not unrelated with the rest of the epic since David's vocals are still present, and the great atmosphere provided by John's electric guitar and keyboards are also present, and that is what makes it so great.

The suite goes on with part six called The Hand of God. It's another instrumental which has some of the previous rockin' themes reprised, but that's not at all, this part has John Fontana as the main performer letting out some brilliant guitar solos. Finally the suite ends with part seven entitled Coming Back Home To You. A definite standout which evokes a 70's up-lifting blues style which is truly emotional with the addition of backing vocalists, both male and female, plus a marvellous, very 70's-esque, organ solo as well as a bluesy guitar solo, all in all making an excellent ending to this splendid epic.

However, as the epic ended the album goes on with When the Morning Comes. A delicate acoustic piece with some beautiful vocals from David. On the other hand, Willoughby brings back the symphonic rock from Project Blue, unfortunately it barely brings anything that can't be heard(and better) on the epic.

Angel, on the contrary, offers something still not heard from this album. A sort-of ballad with the sufficient twists so as to not get bored. Mainly a magnificent guitar solo, some well-fitting orchestration and a really nice soft synth solo at the end. The last track off the album called Then in July, the Thunder Came is also something fresh, but not much in the good sense. It's an instrumental with a pretty insipid marching-drum all-through in which John Fontana adds over top of it some pretty great ideas with the guitar and keyboards, but the result is pretty much a failure since I'm not really fond of marching-drumming.

So, in the end Shadow Circus' Whispers & Screams ends not as great nor as intriguing as it began, yet the album is played greatly all through with the, already stated, sufficient variety to make the distinguishment from the modern Symphonic Prog stereotype, which that is something to be recognised and valued.

I'll round up the 3.5 stars that this album deserves, meaning that it's a great non-typical modern Symphonic Prog which is recommended to any 70's Prog Rock fan which tends to listen to a bit more than simply Prog music.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |


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