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REVIEW - Circus 66 - 'Follow The Black Crow' (Album)

As a moniker, I'm not a fan of tagging the many currently fine and diverse UK rock bands under the NWOCR label - it tends to try to flatten the diversity of the scene into a 'generic whole' and, move forward a couple of years, can date those bands (how many NWOBHM bands seem to be stuck in a 'perpetual 1980' even though some are still out there and making fine music). However, there is no doubt that there are many great bands currently flying under the NWOCR banner. Of which, Circus 66 are undoubtedly one.

'Follow The Black Crow' is the Maidenhead band's debut album and is a fine first step. Nine powerful hard-rocking tracks and an acoustic led ballad make up the album and even though being largely recorded at the band members' homes (only the drums were captured in a studio) is a huge sounding record that begs to be turned up! As well as the band's stomping heavy rock sound, the album is also heavily punctured with blues flavourings adding another colourful dimension to the record; Matt Pierce's guitar stylings include lashings of slide guitar (check the intro to album opener 'Take A Shot', 'Prince Of California' and 'Light The Fuse'), ZZ Top groove ('Prince Of California'), the odd burst of wah-wah guitar ('A Thousand Miles From Home') and plenty of fine soloing, while Annabelle Zaychenko's wide ranging vocals range from sultry (see 'Where I Belong') to a full-throated roar (most tracks, but especially on 'Light The Fuse' and 'Racing The Reaper'). Both are ably backed by the powerhouse drumming of Leigh Holley and the precise and sometimes downright funky bass playing of Luke Ward. All three musicians get the chance to show their musical chops on the excellent 'Light The Fuse'.

Singles 'Jekyll Or Hyde', 'A Thousand Miles From Home' and 'Monster' show the band know how to put an effective rock song together with chant-along choruses, sinewy grooves and mid-tune breakdowns, but it's the last two tracks on the record (for me) that stand out. 'Where I Belong' is a pleasing acoustic ballad (with a touch of Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' about it!) and shows off Matt's fluid acoustic playing and Annabelle's bluesy vocals and gives the album a change of pace, while closing track 'When The Black Crow Flies' is a 9:08 'epic' with a number of changes of gear, an atmospheric middle and plenty of fine playing, singing and fearsome rock to enjoy.

'Follow The Black Crow' is an excellent album with ten great tracks, plenty of light and shade, lithe and powerful musicianship and expansive vocals, and every track has something to commend it. It's an album that can stand tall amongst all the great rock music currently being produced in the UK and should see them kick on to the next level. Buy with confidence and enjoy an album of fine rock music from another emerging band in the resurgent UK rock scene.

'Follow The Black Crow' is released on the 9th July and will be available on all the major digital sites. Pre-orders for CDs can be made now at the band's Big Cartel shop at :-

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