Released: 2008, Magna Carta Records
Pennsylvania's Shadow Gallery is a band which needs little introduction. Having been part of the progressive metal scene since the late '80s, their five full-length albums have cemented their status as one of prog metal's premier bands. PRIME CUTS is a compilation of songs from their first four albums, released by their original label Magna Carta Records. With twelve tracks spanning over an hour and fifteen minutes, there is quite a bit of history covered by this release, making it a perfect choice for someone who is interested in getting a feel for the band's legacy.
Shadow Gallery's mix of progressive and neoclassical metal is reminiscent of fellow prog metal band Dream Theater, though Shadow Gallery is more progressive and less metal. Save for instrumental tack "The Crusher", there isn't much in the way of hard-hitting drums or fast-paced riffing on this album, which is disappointing if you're looking for these things in a metal band. There are definite hints of power behind the guitars from time-to-time, but it always feels like a build up without any release.
Small complaints aside, Shadow Gallery do perform very well and it is easy to understand why this band has obtained the reputation that they have. Everything from the guitars to the keys are executed flawlessly, and the late Mike Baker's vocals fit perfectly with the ballads that make up most of the album. As a compilation, the album doesn't bring much new to the table for existing fans who may already own their entire back catalogue, but the inclusion of a previously unreleased demo track, "Rule the World" adds something even for long-time fans.
If you are not familiar with Shadow Gallery's previous works but are a fan of Dream Theater, Symphony X, and other progressive metal acts, you may want to grab a copy of PRIME CUTS to get an idea of what the band has to offer. However, if you're looking for the speed and intensity of a band like Symphony X, you may want to look elsewhere as this highly progressive band doesn't deliver that very frequently.