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Shadow Gallery: Room V

After releasing four immensely amazing albums on Magna Carta Records, Shadow Gallery have decided to move on to Inside Out and release their long-awaited sequel to Tyranny which is quite possibly their most successful album to date. The concept of Room V seamlessly lines up with that of Tyranny: Act I and Act II on Tyranny are followed by Act III and Act IV which are comprised of 14 tracks in total and clock in at over 75 minutes of music. If you decide to pick up the special edition of the album with a bonus disc, you get an in-depth explanation of the storyline from Carl Cadden-James himself. Room V picks up exactly where Tyranny left off, and we are again presented with the same characters. Roughly speaking, the album is about the lives and the characters' outlook on life. It deals with the realities that just when you think you've left your past all behind, you actually are face to face with the beginning of something new.

Jeff Glixman's (Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Kansas) warm and slick production work on Room V immediately recalls the band's Tyranny days. Those who were disappointed by the previous Shadow Gallery disc, Legacy, are going to love Room V. Brendt Allman and Gary Wehrkamp's guitar work is brilliant, fearlessly melodic and shows admirabe restraint. Keyboards, while still very active, have taken a secondary role (compared to the guitars) in the way that they aren't the first thing to actually define the music this time around. Fear not though, you'll hear plenty of ethereal keyboard and piano stuff here, since most of the songs are piano-based ballads that give way to melodious guitar harmonies and Mike Baker's soulful vocal delivery.

Almost half of the music on Room V is instrumental, though far from technical prowess or over-the-top shredding. The emotions are mostly expressed using changes in dynamics and merging compositional elegance with striking musicality. Of importance is Mike Baker's rather laid-back way of singing. This album could be the one featuring his softest vocal delivery in his career. Additionally, the dynamic multi-layered vocal harmonies most Shadow Gallery fans have come to expect from him have been stripped away. This time Mike Baker's voice is in its most naked form - there aren't layers and layers of harmonies or back vocals permeating the band's songcraft. That said, Baker's emotive vocal performance still impresses. The slow, captivating chorus on "Vow" or his duet with Laura Jaeger on "Comfort Me" are astounding.

However, it could be argued that there are way too many slow ballad-like tunes on Room V with the exception of perhaps the title track and the last song "Rain". Since these tracks are the last two on the album, those looking for more aggressive and technically challenging songs may be surprised. Sure there are some really solid guitar riffs with pulverizing bass patterns in tunes like "The Andromeda Strain" whose instrumental interplay between the keys and guitars is first class. The other heavier pieces are the short instrumental numbers: "Birth of a Daughter" has a new age flavoured opening that reminded me of Marty Friedman's Scenes album for a moment, but it immediately takes on a heavier approach with angular guitar riffs interwoven with secret keyboard melodies functioning under Carl-Cadden James' relentless bass. Also note the amazing flute sounds that are introduced right from the first track and that become the main motif of the powerful song "Torn" working their way into the mix alongside pastoral acoustic guitars and a great synth solo by Gary Wehrkamp. This song is perhaps the only track that offers a multi-layered vocal harmony at the very end. The songs on Act IV are more to my liking actually: the bass-rich "The Archer of Ben Salem" might be the album's most progressive moment with its numerous tempo changes and articulate keyboard melody. "Encrypted", on the other hand, sees the band exploring a very different style from their previous releases, implementing a blues solo that is then accompanied by Joe Nevolo's jaw-dropping drum attack. If you're unsure whether you should pick it up, think no more, buy it today. If you're a Shadow Gallery fan, you probably already have it - and that's a good thing.

Track Listing

Act III

  1. Manhunt (2:07)
  2. Comfort Me (6:49)
  3. The Andromeda Strain (6:44)
  4. Vow (8:25)
  5. Birth of a Daughter (2:38)
  6. Death of a Mother (2:13)
  7. Lamentia (1:02)
Act IV
  1. Seven Years (3:35)
  2. Dark (1:01)
  3. Torn (8:21)
  4. The Archer of Ben Salem (7:26)
  5. Encrypted (7:59)
  6. Room V (7:42)
  7. Rain (8:59)

Added: August 19th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Shadow Gallery
Hits: 2275
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Shadow Gallery: Room V
Posted by Steve Ambrosius, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-19 10:02:37
My Score:

Shadow Gallery is a band I always think I will like more than I do. So when I finally received Room V I wanted to go in with a clean mind, no preconceived notions or ideas. Thankfully, since after the standard prog-metal introduction of "Manhunt" I was caught completely by surprise by the amazing duet of Mike Baker and Laura Jaeger on "Comfort Me". Song after song continued to surprise me. At 75:36 you are going to have some fill, but there weren't any overtly weak parts. On Room V I heard maturity that I hadn't on previous CDs. The ability to not overwhelm a song, but to let it take a life of its own has never been Shadow Gallery's strong suit, but they managed to come super close on most of the songs on this release.


So now, after a dozen spins, I find this CD still keeps my attention. It flows nicely from harder to softer and back again. The more melodic songs still have some elements of power and the harder numbers retain many elements of harmony and flow. "Vow", "Seven Years" and "The Archer of Ben Salem" are three of my personal favorites. "Rain" is an excellent choice to close this CD. Some of the shorter tracks have the feeling of "good idea, not quite developed", but do not really detract from the overall excellence of Room V.



» Reader Comments:

Shadow Gallery: Room V
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2005-08-21 11:20:20
My Score:

Following an adquired habit by this band - that is, releasing an astounding album - i was not entirely surprised by the awesome quality of this work.Layered balads and powerhouse athems balance this memorable album and comes, once again, highly recommended.Now the band only need popular acknowledge from the masses much like their prog colleagues Dream Theater, cause they deserve it just as much.





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