Released: 2005, Inside Out Music America
This little known band is part of prog metal’s finest. This six piece from Pennsylvania has come out with album number five, and the somewhat primitive sound I recall from previous albums has improved to a solid recording. With 14 songs it’s quite lengthy, almost all songs clocking in at just under seven minutes or more. What’s impressive is that it doesn’t get boring. That’s always something I worry about with long prog albums.
“Comfort Me” is by far my favorite. Mike Baker sings with a female vocalist, an absolutely beautiful duet that I could listen to over and over, completely owned. The piano work by either Chris Ingles or Gary Wehrkamp (yes, they have two keyboardists!) is spell binding. Bassist Car Cadden-James also does some flute in this song – an impressive touch.
The mellow style of Shadow Gallery is definitely prominent. They focus more on beauty in their compositions than rocking the socks off of the listeners. “Torn” is another example of this. It’s one of those songs you’d be raising your lighter to and swaying at a live show. “The Archer of Ben Salem” is one where they heavy it up and run with the torch of true prog metal. There’s keyboards that remind me a bit of Kansas; the instrumental section has vivid hints of Dream Theater, the guitar solos not unlike those of Petrucci; but the riffs are a style all their own. Shadow Gallery is making their own place in the genre.
Mike Baker’s vocal range is shown off in the beginning of “Encrypted.” Like most prog singers, he often stays in the safe tenor range, but here he dips down lower and it’s like a velvety tone. He should do that more often. It’s also in this song that we get an absolutely amazing guitar solo from Brendt Allman. I’ll be paying more attention to him from now on.
The only real qualm I can think of for this album is that it doesn’t always quench my thirst for heaviness. They have such a knack for both heavy prog and graceful mellow tunes, but sometimes I feel that they just don’t mix it up enough. This isn’t an album for those with an insatiable desire for headbanging, but it’s perfect for those who like a little of everything.