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Shadow Circus - Whispers And Screams CD (album) cover


Shadow Circus


Symphonic Prog

3.81 | 92 ratings

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Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars This is not the Symphonic I was raised with....But I like it

Before receiving my "Whispers and Screams" copy from my good friend John Fontana, was reading the reviews about this second SHADOW CIRCUS release, and what I read looked really uninspiring, seems that the album hadn't reached the audience, but this didn't surprised me, because their fantastic debut "Welcome to the Freakroom", is criminally underrated in my opinion.

Well, got my copy and I can't understand the Progressive Rock fans anymore, when a band is too close to the 70's icons, they are labelled as "Retro Prog" (A term I find harsh and inappropriate), but when bands as "SHADOW CIRCUS" dare to create a new form of Symphonic, adding Hard Rock and modern elements, people don't understand them and claim for a more classical sound, seems that the worst enemy of a Prog band is a Prog fan.

"Whispers and Screams" is a combination of classical Symphonic structures and Hard Rock elements not new in bands of the region (Hey, they are a USA band from the 21st century, they can't sound as a British band from 1974) , but the sound is fresh and innovative, when they have to play Symphonic, they do it with skill, but when they have to rock, they really know how to do it with the strength of the best Heavy bands, in other words a complete combo for all the tastes.

The album starts with the 33:46 minutes multi part epic "Project Blue", a song that presents us the harder side of SHADOW CIRCUS and how versatile they can be. It's time to rock and "John Fontana" combines his heavy and even distorted guitar with the competent Rhythm Section formed by "Corey Folta" in the drums and "Jason Croft" in the killer bass.

But that's not all, a thick atmosphere is created by John and his strong keyboards, the song is so complex and full of radical changes that reminds me a lot of KING CRIMSON dense structures, and the peculiar voice of "David Bobick" is the cherry on the top of the pie, not that we are before one of the best vocal ranges in the market, but the guy has a very ductile style that melts perfectly with whatever the band is playing.

More than half an hour of pure Prog Rock if you are ready to expect the unexpected.

"When the Morning Comes" is a great contrast, the clean piano blends perfectly with "Bobick's" voice that adapts perfectly to a softer style, sounds almost as another band, but that's only a proof of their versatility, again there's a surprise, some sort of Folksy sound breaks the schemes of the listener.

"Willoughby" begins with a classical piano solo that goes in crescendo (both in speed and intensity) until the whole band explodes in a burst of energy, don't ask me about influences, this is a new bread of Symphonic Prog, but when the listener believes that the style is captured comes a new a change when the frenetic piano turns into a rhythmic and al while the rest of the band stays in the frenetic mood. Reminds me of "Radio People" from their debut album. Again good stuff.

"Angel" is some sort of Prog mixed with Western Rock plus the special taste that the guest "Matt Massek" adds with his cello, again the dense atmosphere with touches of Gilmour like guitar create some sort of mystery and anguish that adds an extra element of interest to the song.

"Whispers and Screams" ends with "Then in July the Thunder Came", that breaks all my preconceptions of the band once again, the sound is so mysterious and dark that breaks with anything done in the past, the instrumental passages with an oriental flavour are simply delightful.....Call it pompous, self indulgent or whatever, the point is that this is what most of us like of Prog, the excesses and the desire to create something that exceeds the mediocrity we listen on daily bases in the radios or TV, great closer.

The importance of this album is that it changes SHADOW CIRCUS status from promising band with one great record into a reality, because many musicians have managed to release a good debut but never were capable of repeating it, but "SHADOW CIRCUS" has two solid albums that prove us we are before a real band with a lot to offer.

Four solid stars for "Whispers and Screams".

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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