Forgotten Jewels: Shadow Gallery – S/T

9/10

It is all Leif Edlings fault!
I had discovered Dream Theater a few years earlier and was slowly starting to widen my musical horizons from the death-, thrash-, doom- and heavy metal that were my major interests at the time and realising just how much amazing music there is out there if you just keep an open mind.

At the time (1992) Leif Edling (Candlemass´mastermind) had a radio show on Swedish national radio called “Bang” and one night my dear brother recorded the program and the next day he called me and said:
– I just heard one of the coolest bands ever, you gotta come over here!

For some reason I can´t remember which song or songs I listened to that night but I remember deciding to buy this incredible record ASAP. But as it happens my brother bougth it before I had the chance so I had to settle for a cassette copy of it. We were both mesmerised by the album and played it over and over again for weeks. Never before had that skinny 17-year old headbanger experienced such a potent mix of Queen-inspired vocal harmonies, shredding guitars and progressive interludes.

The magnificent “The Dance of Fools” sets the scene for what´s to come. Here Shadow Gallery gives the world more innovative melodies and themes in seven blissful minutes than most mainstream artists can come up with during their entire career. And this continues throughout the rest of the album. Every single melody is so well thought out, so well arranged that almost every song is a minor masterpiece on its own. Carl Cadden-James (bass, backing vocals, flute) wrote the lion´s share of the vocal melodies, (with assistance of Brendt Allman on the brilliant “Questions at Hand”) and what an incredible job he did, indeed.

Songs like “Darktown” and “Say Goodbye to The Morning” takes the listener on a wonderful journey, twisting and turning without ever losing focus. The 17-minute behemoth “Queen of The City of Ice” acts almost like a musical with spoken parts and here vocalist Mike Baker gets to show off his versatility and natural drama in his voice.

If there´s any critisism one could raise about the record it would be the somewhat primitive and muddy production. I would love to hear a re-recorded version or at least a remixed one since Mike Baker is no longer with us after tragically dying of a heartattack in 2009.

This was just the first of three incredible records the band would concoct during the 90s. Both “Carved in Stone” and concept album extraordinaire “Tyranny” are both some of the best melodic progressive metal albums of all time but since they´re better known that the unfairly forgotten jewel you´re reading about in this instance they will have to do without the spotlight on them, at least for the time being. They have remained one of my favorite bands to this day and their nineties output is second to none. Well maybe Symphony X and Dream Theater. But that´s a debate for another day.

So Leif Edling is one of the reasons I´m stuck in the quagmire that is progressive metal and rock. And you know what?

I couldn´t be happier. 

Artist: Shadow Gallery
Title: Shadow Gallery
Label: Magna Carta
Playing Time: 60 minutes
Rating: 9/10
Place of origin: USA
Standout track: The Dance of Fools, Mystified, Say Goodbye to The Morning

 

 

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