Released by InsideOut Music – 2009
Review Added October 31, 2009
1. With Honor**
4. Gold Dust**
6. Digital Ghost
* Gary Wehrkamp – Piano, guitars, keyboards, vocals
* Brendt Allman – Guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
* Carl Cadden-James – Bass, vocals, flute, fretless bass
* Joe Nevolo – Drums
* Brian Ashland – Vocals
Many fans of the progressive scene already know the name of Shadow Gallery as a reputable band in the progressive metal genre and one of the most originals and highly creative groups around. They formed back in the mid 80’s back then under the moniker of “Sorcerer“. Due to the bands commitments to their personal lives, families and many other responsibilities that we can all understand, they have never gone on tour with any of their releases. The band’s lead man guitar talent Gary Wehrkamp said in an interview not long ago that while it’s a small chance that they would never tour, there’s always a chance. The reason I bring this up is because this SG is are a tremendous group of musicians, all multi layered instrumentalists that are very creative and talented, so hoping they one day go on the road would surely please many fans all around the globe. The second take is of course the passing of the amazing vocalist Mike Baker, sad to think that Baker only 45 would pass on but thankfully the band played the cards right and dedicated their sixth studio album “Digital Ghosts” to their former vocalist. So all this leads to the new addition of Brian Ashland given a high task to replace Baker and along with some shared vocal duties from the other members of the band, SG comes back into the fold awaiting to emerge their blend of prog rock and metal back for all of us to enjoy.
I was a little skeptical as to what new singer Ashland would sound like, and couldn’t really judge much from the samples the band posted on their site, I had to reserve my views for the official review. Let’s just get that out of the way by saying that Ashland is a terrific singer, no he doesn’t sound like Mike Baker, but then few would and I doubt the band would want to find a Baker clone, because we know it doesn’t exist. Brian has an striking resemblance on some of the slow breaks in the opener song “With Honor” to Geoff Tate, Queensryche frontman and one of the best vocalists of all time. I like the fact that with the band sharing vocal duties it really adds a nice layer of powerful and melancholy undertones to the songs, it works really well. Supporting some of the bands rhetoric that this new sound is a new progressive musical direction for them, the great opener track leads way to “Venom” with a blast pounding of metal rhythm that holds true to some of their heavier trademark sound. Wehrkamp crisp guitar sounds fully in tuned here and Ashland does a nice job of adding a savage attitude to the powerful lyrics. This tune sounds like some of the heaviest they have ever done, add some nice symphonic vocal layering and it rivals any of the work that Symphony X released last year. Toning things down a notch is the will-owed sound of “Pain”, the soft acoustic opening brings back memories of some of the powerful ballads off the Tyranny album and the quick change of heaviness to slow rhythm change works to perfection here. Some menacing keyboards break way into the total ripping song titled “Gold Dust”, the perfect mix of heavy and light, bringing into the fold some of the keyboards elements a bit more, just a some great compositions all around keep the listener indulged in the comprehensiveness of the sound. Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) lends his lead vocal pipes on “Strong” and it’s a nice change but the heavy sound remains the same, exploding left and right then breaking into a amalgamate of maddening guitar and keyboard trades that will push the boundary of these wonderful musicians. The album finishes on a strong note with the closer “Haunted”, with some darker progressive rock churning melodies, keying in on some hopeful lyrics is Ashland and the rest of the band who do a magnificent job of joining all the vocal talents into one big universe of beautiful music and that piano solo in the backdrop got me the first time i heard it.
So much to say here about this wonderful release, as a fan of progressive metal, we always look for original music, is hard to separate yourself from the endless clones of prog material. Guitarist Wehrkamp proves his point and the bands goal to sound creative and yet fresh and implement a new musical direction here, it would be easy for Shadow Gallery to rely on just pure talent and musicianship, but they manage to get every member of the band to contribute something special here, in the end making the experience worth the wait and highly reflective of a place in time where many bands wish and aspire to be. I think Mike Baker would be proud of this record, is his memory they dedicate this classic masterpiece and Myglobalmind will award it’s first perfect score as to we believe it’s the best piece of music that has been delivered in the progressive metal and rock verse this year, and it should come to no body’s surprise when SG releases a new album, is usually damn good and this is no different. Anybody who calls themselves a fan of very well played music should own this, go get it and support the band!!.
Written by Denys
Ratings Denys 10/10