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A Thousand Shields
August 2011
Released: 2010, Self Released
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert Williams

A Thousand Shields are a five-piece progressive metal band based out of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. The ambitious self-released second full length album PORTRAIT marks the follow up to the 2008 debut offering "The Gateway".

"Become The Martyr" opens up PORTRAIT with some spoken word passages backdropped against atmospheric keyboards before shifting into more progressive territory with plenty of diverse tempo changes accented by some excellent percussive flourishes courtesy of drummer Kelly Cox. The band's material builds in terms of dynamics carefully crafted and balanced between soft moodier melodies into thumpy bass driven heavier parts. On "The Kingdom" the tasteful leadwork of guitarist Weston Maines is brought to the forefront allowing the band's lone axeman to shine amongst the complex inner workings of a song that plays off of Middle Eastern like melodies.

"Why" sounds a bit like something I would expect from Trans-Siberian Orchestra or later era Savatage (that being a good thing) what with it's accomplished keyboard noodling. Some of these tracks are a bit much to take in on first listen as riffs are hardly ever repeated or reprised, as is the case on "Face The Day" a near seven minute epic that wanders all over the map musically speaking. Nowhere on PORTRAIT is this more apparent than on the albums closing number "Closure: The Final Conflict" clocking in at just under fifteen minutes and overloading the listener with a seemingly neverending barrage of hooks, twists, turns, the kitchen sink and everything in between.

All in all, a solid second effort from the very talented five musicians who comprise A Thousand Shields. My only major criticism of PORTRAIT would be that in my opinion, the mix is fairly muddy and performances withstanding, would have made for a much more enjoyable listen if this material was fine tuned and re-mastered under the careful consideration of an engineer well versed in working with keyboard oriented progressive metal. That small gripe aside, I would recommend this disc to fans of the prog metal genre as there are some really stellar performances contained herein.
Track Listing

1. Become The Martyr
2. Heavenly Infection
3. The Kingdom
4. Why
5. The Dark Room
6. Face The Day
7. Closure


Josiah Baker - Vocals
Weston Maines - Guitar
Chris Belton - Keyboards
Darren Overcash - Bass
Kelly Cox - Drums

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