Progressive Rock is a difficult style to not only get used to, but also to effectively do well enough to build an audience. It has everything: concept, a love for intricate musical parts as well as artists who are usually classically trained. Mix in thought and theatre, some metaphor, and if you’re good, you’ll do…ok. Why? Because it’s a sub-class of rock music generally adored by a just a sliver of music lovers.
Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Rush, and a few others excelled at this art – and it is art – but aside from these bands named, there are so few that could make a decent living at progressive rock. And yet, the art-form is pursued by many bands striving to achieve a King Crimson-like status in a three-chord world dominated by a punk-pop sound. Shadow Circus from NYC is one of those.
Hailing from NYC doesn’t have anything to do with how good they sound, but it just seems that things get a little heavier conceptually in NYC than anywhere else in the country (US). Musically, Shadow Circus is heavily influenced by Yes, with shades of Starcastle sewn in for good measure. With several layers of keyboards, a vocalist/lyricist trained in Musical Theatre, and classically trained instrumentalists, all of the components are here for seriously good music listenings with a finger poised on the replay button.
Welcome to the Freakroom, the debut disc from this band starts off big and maintains that musical regimen throughout. Musically, “Storm Rider” reminds of Starcastle, and the rest of Welcome to the Freakhouse will certainly remind you of all of their other influences. “Inconvenient Compromise,” tucked in to the middle of the album, is one of the best songs on this album. But it is the ready-to-go “Radio People” that has single written all over it with its memorable sing-along chorus, a feat hard to achieve, especially in the prog-rock genre.
It takes a lot to be taken seriously in the ProgRock genre, and Shadow Circus has all of the skill-sets in place to excel at this style. These guys rock, which leaves me anxious for their second album…already.