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Shadow Gallery: Digital Ghosts

It's been a while since we had the pleasure of a new Shadow Gallery CD, hardly surprising with the tragic death of lead singer Mike Baker in 2008. Shadow Gallery's first album without Mike is of course an eagerly awaited release for the fans thirsting for some new material after the most excellent Room V from 2005, and keen to hear their new vocalist. Especially as Shadow Gallery have always been one of the prominent progressive bands when talking vocals, be it lead or backup as their many endearing harmonies unite.

Digital Ghosts introduces new lead vocalist Brian Ashland, his strong distinctive voice being a suitable addition to Shadow Gallery's experienced line up, of Carl Cadden-James, Brendt Allman and Gary Wehrkamp, and drummer Joe Nevolo who brings the beat on two tracks "Venom" and "Gold Dust". From what I can gather, Gary Wehrkamp just happens to know a thing or two about drumming and sits in for the rest, and a fine job he does.

Digital Ghosts's guest spots include vocals from Primal Fear's Ralf Scheepers on the heavy groover "Strong" and Clay Barton from Suspyre on "Venom"; love the solos on both of these. Brian Ashland's vocals aside, he actually reminds me of Geoff Tate at times- quite frankly Queensryche certainly haven't sounded this good in a while, there's no doubting Digital Ghosts is a Shadow Gallery release, especially once the recognizable guitar sound comes through as "With Honour" gets going. Tile track "Digital Ghosts" is such an uplifting vibrant song with some more great technical showmanship, and final track "Haunted" has wonderful vocals and some fine music.

2009 is ending strong, as Redemption's Snowfall On Judgement Day and this CD would have to be my two favorite progressive metal CDs so far this year, with each having something different to offer. Shadow Gallery have given us some outstanding music over the years, though I haven't heard Room V in quite a while, as I pretty well played it to death I liked it that much. I am sure Digital Ghosts will get the same treatment it's another exceptional Shadow Gallery release.

Track list:
1. With Honor
2. Venom
3. Pain
4. Gold Dust
5. Strong
6. Digital Ghost
7. Haunted

Added: December 13th 2009
Reviewer: Scott Jessup
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 9039
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Shadow Gallery: Digital Ghosts
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-12-13 14:27:10
My Score:

Though Mike Baker is no longer with us, his bandmates in Shadow Gallery have decided to move forward, and the resulting Digital Ghosts is truly a fine testament to the memory, and talents of their late singer. This band has always been good at marrying the symphonic nature of prog, with complex metal muscle and catchy hooks, and this release is no exception. New singer Brian Ashland is a great find, an excellent vocalist in his own right who doesn't pretend to try and sound like Baker, and Digital Ghosts is all the better because of it. To these ears, Digital Ghosts is also a bit heavier than the last few Shadow Gallery releases, tracks like "Venom" (with guests vocals from Suspyre's Clay Barton) rocks plenty hard, almost Symphony X hard, and "Strong" is a mix of prog & power metal, featuring Primal Fear's Ralf Scheepers on guest vocals.

Elsewhere, expect plenty of soaring, melodic progressive metal, featuring plenty of keyboards, virtuoso guitar work from Gary Wehrkamp & Brendt Allman, and Ashland's powerful, Geoff Tate styled vocal delivery. The final two tracks, "Digital Ghost" and "Haunted" are both mini-epics and two of the better tracks this band has written in quite a while.

In short, a welcome return from veteran act Shadow Gallery, and despite the tragedy, they seem poised to once again take their place near the top of the progressive metal heap.

Shadow Gallery: Digital Ghosts
Posted by Franklin Williams III, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-12-01 13:55:01
My Score:

Last year the progressive music world was stunned at the news of Mike Baker's passing. The manner of his passing and his age not only stunned me, but affected me personally. Along with DC Cooper and Kelly Keeling, Mike Baker was one of my favorite singers. His vocal signature rested snuggly in the Shadow Gallery sound making it massive, atmospheric and epic. After such a significant loss, my greatest fear was the band's demise. Having lost such an integral element in their overall sound, how could Shadow Gallery survive? Many of us prepared ourselves to accept the demise of one of rock's finest musical creations. Or, has it?

To borrow a fanciful metaphor, the phoenix is a fascinating creature. Though they spontaneously combust after death, new life is born from the ashes. The resulting creature is not just a replica of the original. It is an animal with all of its former incarnation's wisdom and experience enshrined within a newly formed body having the health, vigor and strength of youth. With Digital Ghosts Shadow Gallery has proven to be a phoenix. With a fabulous new singer in tow, and with some support from a few guest performers, Shadow Gallery rises from the ashes with one of its best releases to date. And, what a resurrection it is!

In a sentence, Digital Ghosts is brilliant! Though Room V and Legacy were fine releases, they differed very little from their earlier work. Digital Ghosts marks a stylistic change in their sound. Furthermore, Digital Ghosts does not suffer from the one defect of Room V: none of the songs seem to be too long. Though well-received by critics and fans alike, Room V had a couple of songs which may have benefit slightly by leaving a few measures on the cutting room floor without sacrifice in their dramatic effect. In Digital Ghosts the metal elements of their sound are emphasized prominently while the symphonic elements are restrained. With greater emphasis on guitars (electric, acoustic and bass), the subtle calibration provides a flexible musical space for their new vocalist Brian Ashland, whose voice soars over the molten matrix with dazzling brilliance and light! Keyboard textures, acoustic interludes and soundscapes are aplenty, but the economy in their duration and use make the overall sound more interesting than either of their past two releases. The lyrics are more self-contained than their past epics and have a slightly darker tone. Yet the Shadow Gallery sound, with its searing guitars, pulsating bass lines, luscious choral background vocals and intelligent drumming, remains essentially the same. No track by track review is necessary: the whole disc is really that good.

In my own humble opinion, Digital Ghosts is not necessarily their best work to date, but it's very close. I've always been partial to the symphonic elements of Carved in Stone and the epic symmetries of Tyranny. This release mixes the best elements from both while adding a few bits of jazz, a wink and a nod to Yes, and a few steps toward power metal to accentuate the stunning vocal talents of Brian Ashland. The adjustments made to accommodate Brian's vocal abilities makes this one of the best transition disks I've come across in years. Digital Ghosts is a stroke of genius from one of progressive metal's best bands. But, the reason I wouldn't say Digital Ghosts is their best work to date is because I firmly believe their best work is yet to come! If Shadow Gallery is the phoenix I believe them to be, I expect their masterpiece to appear soon on the horizon. If this does not happen, I would be more than happy to insert this one in its place.

» Reader Comments:

Shadow Gallery: Digital Ghosts
Posted by TPS on 2009-10-30 00:14:08
My Score:

Truly masterful stuff. An amazing tribute to Mike.

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