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Shadow Circus - Whispers And Screams CD (album) cover


Shadow Circus


Symphonic Prog

3.80 | 90 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Always great to see another great local band! I like to boast to friends of mine about the music scene and good bands of the New York Metro Area, and I think I have another band to add to the list! I am not familiar at all with symphonic prog, the closest I've come being Symphony X, but if the rest is as good as this album, I am going to like it!

First, the musicianship on this album is superb. These are some talented guys. Every member involved knows hows to play their instrument, and are quit good at it, and more importantly know how to make music. The album is very driven by the keyboards and guitar, not surprisingly, and keyboardist/guitarist John Fontana is amazing. His skill at both instruments is quite good, and displays good variety with them. I really like the drumming, good and not too over the top. Though certainly shows off his skill! Would like to hear a bit more bass, but that's not really a knock...would just like to hear some more is all! The vocals are pretty good. Certainly not the best, but they are far from the worst, and really they are fine. Not going to blow anyone, but is much more than adequate as well.

The album begins with a 33 minute suite that will take you for a ride! Each piece of the suite is great, with good progression and variation throughout each song. Some are more laid back, some are a bit more frenzied, all showcase some great talent and composing skills. "The Seduction of Harold Lauder" is my personal favorite of the suite. A wild section that ranges from ominous and Symphony X-esque frantic attacks, to upbeat keyboard and guitar driven rock sections, tempo and dynamic changes, with some interesting time signatures thrown in there. The best part is in the middle. A nice electric background guitar while a 70's southern rock type keyboard solo plays over it, with a really sweet drum beat over it. An awesome guitar bit kicks in after that as the song progresses to a thrash, just to stop abruptly with a slower, staccato section. Really great piece of music.

Talk about variation! "The Horsemen Ride" the very next piece sounds almost like a folk song. A folky almost tribal drumming permeates the song, with mellow, (sometimes trippy) keyboard and guitar. The vocals reminded me of Simon & Garfunkel at times!

The suite ends with "Coming Back Home to You" which almost sounds like a 70's southern rock band. Everything from the vocals to the keyboard solos. If I didn't know better, I might of thought this was an Allman Brothers song. Not that this is bad, in fact quite the contrary. This was a great musical piece, and a really unique way to end the suite.

"When the Morning Comes" is very laid back and mellow. A bit slow and seems more like a transition than a song.

"Willoughby" is an intriguing song. Has some brilliant moments, but also some drag a bit. Luckily it never carries on for so long that I start to feel the urge the hit next. But overall a great song, and I'd say my second favorite behind the opening suite.

"Angel" most likely the most "pop" oriented song, it is fairly mellow with a pretty straightforward song structure with light sections, and is not to unorthodox. Does sound like a single. However, its a pretty nice song and I really love the section from about five and half minutes to the end. Really awesome. Also, no one can deny the powerful and honest emotion in this song, especially in the guitar solos. Oh and obviously in the powerful sections. Song really grew on me!

The ending of that song flows directly into the next. A really interesting song. A long, slow and steady build, reminding me of a classical song in both its feel and instrumentation. The climax actually does sound a bit like a classical music song, but with an epic guitar solo over that grows as well. Things are taken back down, just so we can another more dramatic ascension. Then it all fades away, leaving us with a feeling of a cold wind blowing, (just like the album started!)

Overall, really good album. Great musical talent and composition skills. There is no bad song, though there is also no part that will really blow you away. Overall, a well played and crafted album that may follow a bit of a "standard" prog feel, but has lots of creative and original parts considering. The 33 minute opening suite is without a doubt the best song on the album, and a really good one. Solid album that I think many would enjoy.


JJLehto | 4/5 |


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