I’m glad I got another ticket to the Shadow Circus in my hot little hands here! This music is crazy wild, like Tim Burton meets the Killer Klowns from Outer Space. The picture of the band on the inside of the CD booklet clues you in a bit on the carnival attraction you’re about to hear, but does not prepare you for the carnival ride you actually take listening to ‘Whispers and Screams.’
Two of my passions in life are Stephen King and Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, so it’s exciting to see both represented here. I’m hooked from the start with the seven-part “Project Blue,” inspired by perhaps King’s greatest novel “The Stand.” Corey Folta’s drum playing on this CD is stellar and well represented as the first track “Captain Trips” begins. When the rest of the band breaks in there’s a great moody atmosphere right from the start, befitting its source material.
Peppered with lovely instrumentals, the multi-track epic “Project Blue” goes from delicate acoustic guitar to grand symphonic to moody and somber piano. “Big Fire” features some of that middle-Eastern electronica that was evident on their first CD, Welcome to the Freakroom. “Coming Back Home to You,” with it’s anthemic chorus, has the band and especially vocalist David Bobick channeling John Lennon during his “Mother” or “God” period with much passion and soul. This is an amazing finish to “Project Blue.”
Like a Cable-TV commercial might say, “But wait! There’s more!!” I’m wowed by the bluesy southern-rock/Bad Company feel of “Angel” and the fluid harmonies on “When the Morning Comes.” The Twilight Zone influenced “Willoughby” has a chorus that will stick in your head long after the CD is finished. I caught myself humming it while doing the dishes yesterday! John Fontana’s keyboards and primarily his guitar playing throughout contribute to the “out-there” vibe on the album. He plays outside the box, unique yet staying melodic and accessible. Lastly, “…Then in July, the Thunder Came” (featuring Matt Masek on Cello) is an incredibly majestic instrumental finish to a wonderful album.
I was a big fan of their 2006 debut recording Welcome to the Freakroom, and on this CD everything is tighter and more polished while retaining that frenetic quality that a band with the name Shadow Circus would require. There is definitely no sophomore slump here!
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 20th, 2010