SOUL SIRKUS – World Play


Warner Brothers
Release Date: April 26, 2005

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Before Van Halen reunited in 2004, lead vocalist Sammy Hagar and bassist Michael Anthony were slumming with world class guitar virtuoso Neal Schon and veteran skin-pounder Deen Castronovo, both of Journey fame. The project was called Planet US and this grouping started to create a buzz as soon as word leaked out about their new tunes. Unfortunately, we may never know what was created in the rehearsals for Planet US, since Sammy and Michael rejoined the Van Halen brothers for a reunion tour, and the project was shelved for the time being. Not ones to sit around and watch the moss grow, Schon and Castronovo recruited another singer and bassist; this time it would be Jeff Scott Soto (we don’t have the time or space to list his credentials) and bassist Marco Mendoza (Ted Nugent, Whitesnake).

What has come forth is a new moniker, ”Soul SirkUS”, and a debut record World Play, a title that may be a preview of how the world will come to hear music. The opening track to World Play is “Highest Ground,” an amazing rocker with a riff every bit as memorable as Schon’s Journey classic, “Separate Ways.” By the time Soto joins in on vocals, the band is pumping away. God help us if this is being played while you’re driving, because you will undoubtedly be accelerating.

“New Position” is the next track, and there is no relief in site when this fiery number starts with a Castronovo drum intro, showcasing the fact that he isn’t here just for the four/four beat. It’s another break-neck rock tune with a great riff and a strong sing-able melody.

If you are still in the car and haven’t hit anybody yet, “Another World” will finally allow you to ease up on the accelerator. Although the tune is very heavy, it slows the pace to a Zeppelin-esque “Kashmir” type of groove.

Without a doubt fans of great Rock ‘N’ Roll are going to fall in love with Soul SirkUS and World Play. There are eleven monster tracks on this CD that have the intensity and momentum to propel this band into the stratosphere. And the sound … this is not only one of the best sounding albums, but quite possibly the loudest. Worth mentioning too is the fact that the performances are amazing; Marco Mendoza has one of the best bass tones ever, and if you’re not familiar with Marco, you are about to get really personal. Combining a solid foundation with very clever melodies and counter-melodies, Marco sounds like a bassist, two guitarists, and keyboardist all in one.

While Marco and Deen are holding things together, they allow Neal and Jeff to do their guitar and vocal gymnast routines. This is the most exciting Neal Schon playing to be put through the speakers in years; and really, what compliments can be paid to Jeff Scott Soto that would even begin to touch upon the actual talent this guy has? If normal people could sing a quarter as well as this guy, life would be a grand musical ride because everyone would be singing instead of talking.

World Play is an album that was recorded in two days — a fact that should shame those bands that lock themselves into the studio for months at a time, only to emerge with some half-hearted attempt intended to wrestle the hard-earned pay from the masses. This is also an album that was recorded by musicians who love music.

Choosing to go the non-conventional route, the band recorded the album themselves, and released it themselves, using a distributor instead of being signed to a major label. This allowed the band to be as creative as they wanted without adhering to outside pressures and limitations.

This may be the best thing to happen to the Rock ‘N’ Roll world in twenty years or more. If you like what you hear, be sure to spread the word. This is a real opportunity for the people to reclaim the sound of rock! It is a chance to tell the labels that we are tired of their corporate schlock which they heap on us in pretty packages and mass quantities. Embrace World Play and overthrow the tyranny of the current music empire!


  • Jeremy Juliano

    Jeremy was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been involved with and has been following the Metal scene since the early 1980’s. He started out his Metal journey with heavy doses of Maiden, Accept, and Saxon. And in recent years, he has enjoyed the new age of Metal with bands like Hammerfall, Edguy, and Nightwish, to name a few.

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