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Black Jester - Welcome to the Moonlight Circus CD (album) cover

WELCOME TO THE MOONLIGHT CIRCUS

Black Jester

 

Progressive Metal

3.19 | 16 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Black Jester was an Italian band that created an attractive, refined sort of melodic prog-metal seasoned with some neo-prog elements: with a Malsteem-inspired lead guitarist, a Moore-meets-Kelly educated keyboardist and a well-oiled rhythm duo that felt equally capable to drive a heavy tempo and set a looser pace, the guarantee for a stylish instrumental foundation was solid, and indeed, it was realized in this album "Welcome to the Moonlight Circus". Lead singer Alexis D'Este combined Di'Anno and Fish, with all the magic and limitations implied from both sources. Before they definitely elaborated a powerful kind of prog-metal in their third and last release "The Divine Comedy", Black Jester solidified the sound originated in their debut "Diary of a Blind Angel" and took it to its mature level for the "Moonlight Circus" album. One minor flaw in this album is the formulaic sensation that comes to mind once you're getting closer to the last track: certain tempos are used recurrently in three or four tracks, but all in all, the fact is that the album's material is nice, tastefully arranged and it bears an effective dynamics proper in a prog metal context. The opener 'The Labyrinth' states an effective air of solemnity in the form of a mid-tempo rocker: the way that BJ takes advantage of the not too frantic pace in order to create a somber mood reminds me a bit of classic Queensr’che. 'Mirrors Song' lasts 8 ¾ minutes, which gives the band plenty of room to elaborate a sequence of various motifs through diverse tempos and moods - this track pretty much obeys the standards of prog metal. 'The Wayfarer' is a power ballad that sounds really like a metalized Marillion more than like your regular prog metal ballad. When the cover of Le Orme's early classic 'Sguardo Verso il Cielo' in the guise of 'Glance Towards the Sky', the power is let loose in all its glory: the song's essence is easily recognizable, but it is clear that the band has made quite an effort at arranging new ideas into it, especially in the instrumental sections. 'Consciousness Hymn' is a pompous multi-keyboard instrumental, very much a-la Wakeman with a bit of UK-era Jobson; the sound of winds that conclude this piece serve simultaneously as the starting point for 'Symphonies of Immortal Winds', arguably the catchiest rocker in the album, and again, in the crossroads of prog metal and neo. The namesake track occupies the album's last 11+ minutes. It evolves around three distinct sung sections, which are in turn introduced by particular instrumental passages - the circus-based coda provides a convenient dramatic flair to the track's overall mood. Not totally excellent, but almost, mostly a very good prog metal album with a featured room for melodic expansions: "Welcome to the Moonlight Circus" is likely to impress all prog metal heads who long to remember how the genre developed through the 90s in European areas.
Cesar Inca | 3/5 |

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