Shadow Gallery

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Carved In Stone

Shadow Gallery - Carved In Stone ©1995 Magna Carta
1. Cliffhanger
3. Crystalline Dream
5. Don't Ever Cry, Just Remember
7. Warcry
8. Celtic Princess
9. Deeper Than Life
11. Alaska
13. Ghostship

Shadow Gallery's second CD brings them solidly into the progressive metal arena. There is a strong emphasis on piano work on this release. Between the piano and the synthesizers, there is a lot of focus on the keys clearly making this a progressive CD. Even so, there is enough blistering guitar present to put Shadow Gallery in the realm of metal. I was initially intrigued by the odd track numbering. Several of the songs are comprised of two tracks, one the main body of the song, the other a short closing trailer. Only two of the songs, "Warcry" and "Celtic Princess", are comprised of one track each. All the others are two tracks save for the epic twenty-two minute "Ghostship". The last song on the CD has a whopping eight tracks laid down. One mistake I made was ejecting the CD too soon because there is a "pause" of sorts in the song during which there is a long (read: overlong) period of someone knocking on a door. In my opinion, that stretch could have been shortened by half or more and still have been every bit as effective. The vocals and lyrics are very strong and well done on this CD. There are hints here of what is to come on Tyranny. A lot of emotion is conveyed through the singing, bringing off the messages in the lyrics very well. The only real drawback is that Carved In Stone lacks the unified feel of Tyranny. It does show the direction the band is going and certainly shows us the maturity of the song writing. Carved In Stone serves as a wonderful sequel to the ambitious release of Tyranny that followed it three years later.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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Tyranny

Shadow Gallery - Tyranny ©1998 Magna Carta
1. Stiletto In The Sand
2. War For Sale
3. Out Of Nowhere
4. Mystery
5. Hope For Us?
6. Victims
7. Broken
8. I Believe
9. Roads Of Thunder
10. Spoken Words
11. New World Order
12. Chased
13. Ghost Of A Chance
14. Christmas Day

Shadow Gallery's third CD continues their solid progressive metal focus. Their music is still a guitar and piano / keyboard driven assault that is slightly reminiscent of Kansas during their Song For America or Leftoverture period. The keys are more dominant than the guitars, but Shadow Gallery manages to pull it off in such a manner that you don't feel like you've just listened to a synthesizer trio strutting their stuff. Shadow Gallery's greatest strength continues to be the quality of their vocal arrangements. Mike Baker on lead vocals is joined by several others in the group to provide a richly layered singing quality. A great deal of attention is paid to the singing. Mike's vocals are emotionally charged and very easy to listen to. There are points on the CD where it is just his voice and the piano woven into a very pleasing sound. Lyrically the songs are the meat and potatoes fare that fans of progressive metal expect. There is depth as emotional and spiritual issues are explored in the words. However these songs are somewhere around twice as long lyrically than those on Carved In Stone. Taken together, the wordy lyrics and the vocal scores are very reminiscent of Jim Steinman's arrangements with Meatloaf, taking on the nature of rock anthems. The instrumentation is almost secondary to the singing in a way similar to the later, more vocally complex Savatage. Fans of the newer releases from Savatage are sure to appreciate the complexity and richness of Shadow Gallery's efforts on this CD. The tracks on this CD are divided into two "acts" comprised of seven songs each. The songs in Act II have a bit more crunch and "perkiness" for the most part than those in Act I. There is a feel of cohesiveness running through the songs that is not present on either of the first two CDs. All in all, this CD shows a great deal of promise for Shadow Gallery's future. I look eagerly forward to the next release.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 05/2000

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Legacy

Shadow Gallery - Legacy ©2001 Magna Carta
1. Cliffhanger 2
2. Destination Unknown
3. Colors
4. Society Of The Mind
5. Legacy
6. First Light

Shadow Gallery ups the ante again. They have been one of my favorite bands since the release of Carved in Stone. Tyranny followed that disc by further advancing of their signature layered and complex sound. Legacy kicks out all the stops and plants them firmly ahead of the game. This disc is a breathtaking adventure from the first note to the finish.

The band revisits the beginning of Carved in Stone with the first track. The track furthers the theme begun in the song "Cliffhanger" by offering another chapter in the story, so to speak. The musical and lyrical themes are revisited and reinterpreted to make a great beginning to give a fresh perspective on the song. From that point the songs flow one into the next to the concluding track which is a stunning thirty-five minute composition of sweeping progressive metal. Midway through the track, a theme from the closing track, "Ghostship" on Carved in Stone is visited again. There is a pause in the music while someone waits at the door once again before the song continues. Fans who were expecting Tyranny chapters three and four are going to be pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion of themes from both of the most recent discs interwoven into the very complex tapestry of sound on this disc.

Once more, the vocal compositions excel those found on most progressive metal discs. The songs are very wordy and the vocal melodies are intricately layered. The music architecture that supports these melodies is very complex and well orchestrated. Again, the piano is featured a lot in the songs along with the other keyboards adding atmosphere and a great framework for the guitars to take center stage. The level of power is turned up several notches on this disc which is a real treat for those who like more crunch in their music. There is a lot of aggressive play in between the quieter interludes. Between the revisiting of older themes, the forward momentum in complexity and intricacy, and the additional depth and crunch, this disc is a stunning release on every level.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 04/2001

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