It takes a lot guts to try to stand out in today’s rock scene. Creating music that, although it will of course has its particular set of influences, is also offering something different to what most other bands are doing at the time. Not only that, it takes plenty of talent and hard work to pull it off. Well, that’s exactly what Maidenhead based four-piece Circus 66 have done with debut album Follow The Black Crow.
Taking in a bunch of influences ranging from the likes of Bon Jovi and 80’s hard rock through to guitar god Richie Kotzen-led super group, The Winery Dogs, with nods to the likes of Joe Bonamassa and Load/Reload-era Metallica, Circus 66 have created ten tracks that bristle with energy, exuberance and confidence, with killer guitar work, awesome vocals and a strong, funky backbone of a rhythm section. Thanks to the solid, clear production, all the members of Circus 66 have the opportunity to shine on Follow the Black Crow and they certainly do that.
Guitarist Matt Pearce’s bluesy opening to first song, ‘Take A Shot’ , before the rest of the band come in and then Annabelle Zaychenko bursts in with the first of many brilliant vocal performances sets the stall out perfectly with its shout-along chorus, meaty riffs and clinical soloing. You’re hoping that the rest of album has the same high energy buzz and quality musicianship throughout, and fortunately for all involved, Follow The Black Crow does not disappoint. The term “All killer, no filler” springs to mind by the time this album has finished.
Highlights include the single releases ‘Jekyll Or Hyde’, ‘A Thousand Miles From Home’, and ‘Monster’ which all have cool videos to accompany them. But the likes of ‘Prince of California’ with its ZZ Top-ish riff, and ‘Light the Fuse’ with its solid opening from drummer Leigh Holley, are hard rockers of the highest order, with bassist Luke “Mustard” Ward’s playing on Follow The Black Crow not to be understated; his solid and funky style keeping things ticking along nicely throughout.
Aside from this, Circus 66 possibly save their best until last. In terms of showing what the band are capable of at least, with penultimate song ‘Where I Belong’ being the ballad-type track of the album, bringing to mind Richie Sambora’s guitar work on those slower/acoustic tracks while with Bon Jovi , ‘Where I Belong’ ends up being hopeful with its message of looking inward, finding yourself and following your heart. This then leads on to the epic, title track of sorts, ‘When The Black Crow Flies’ with its 9-minute run time showcasing Circus 66’s confidence in themselves as musicians, and encompassing a lot of the band’s influences. Starting slowly before gradually building throughout with its mantra of “Just be, whatever you want to be” being a call to arms for all, ‘When The Black Crow Flies’ is the perfect way to end a debut album that’s as energetic, ambitious and enjoyable as this.
Another advantage to Follow The Black Crow is that it’s a grower; the more you listen, the more you hear. Whether it’s a riff or neat little guitar flourish, a cool bass line, or a piece of powerhouse drumming you somehow missed, there is plenty to discover and rediscover on Follow The Black Crow. Hopefully it will serve well for longevity, and help push the band forward in terms of popularity and getting their music out there and into the ears of as many rock fans as possible. The fact that they’re a kick-ass live band should help with this to.
So overall, if you like your rock n’ roll hard, high energy, funky and bluesy with some big vocals, and have been looking for something a little bit different, then Circus 66 are here to become your new favourite band.
Follow The Black Crow is out now on CD from Black Crow Records.