Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Magna Carta Archive: Shadow Gallery debut album

Shadow Gallery's self titled album was released in 1992 in Europe and Japan.; then issued in limited numbers as a mail order only CD in the US.  It has been pressed in a long out of print vinyl version on Jigu Records Corp. in Korea; a cassette tape through RoadRunner Records; and as part of the Double Feature series paired with their 2nd album, "Carved In Stone".

"Shadow Gallery: Double Feature"
Available at Magna Carta

"Shadow Gallery" original Dutch CD through Roadrunner
"Shadow Gallery" US release, 1,000 copies mailorder

Shadow Gallery made a name for themselves during the early 1990s by helping to create and expand the progressive metal scene. Shadow Gallery derived their name from the now famous "V for Vendetta" graphic novel by Alan Moore. At the time the band chose their name, the novel was relatively unknown in the mainstream, but after it was made into a movie in 2005, it gained a new awareness.

If you’ve read any of the press surrounding this band through the years, a lot of attention was paid to their technical skills. There is no doubt that Shadow Gallery can play their instruments. However, their real craft comes from their ability to create stories within their beautifully melodic music, which allow them to connect with their audience on a deeper level. The band was greatly influenced by the subject matter depicted in V For Vendetta and by the current social climate present in the world today. When the band began writing lyrics for Shadow Gallery it became a major undertaking because they decided to take their cue from writers like Huxley, Orwell, and even Moore.

The resulting albums were filled with stories about a society facing very real perils. While SG used exaggerations and embellishments to create an interesting story, much of what the lyrics discussed had very real implications that still hold true today and are possibly more important statements now than ever before.

Shadow Gallery 1995

"Shadow's Gallery debut album is an underrated gem that should not be missed by any prog fans. Except the programmed drums, 'Shadow Gallery' is an album full of lively instrumentation. The band functions as a small orchestra playing different themes in harmony with a strong neoclassical timbre. Compared to other progressive albums that came out at the same era, this album has a more softened approach and doesn't rely on fast and complex rhythms too much, although such musical ideas aren't absent.

The crystal clear production of this album emphasize the melodic themes in a very precise manner. Actually, many tunes here could be converted into artistic pop type of songs very easily. These of you who can't stand highly technical instrumental sections will be glad to find out that this album has quite a few of them. The 17 minutes long closing song 'The Queen Of The City Of Ice' does contain a lot of instrumental passages but it never lose a melodic theme and is an easy listenable song that keeps you interested for each second with it's catchy vocals and epic themes." - Human666,

"Shadow Gallery" vinyl edition Korea, from 1992
"Shadow Gallery" vinyl Korea, back

"At this stage on their eponymous debut SHADOW GALLERY was more of a mix of symphonic progressive rock that happened to include some 80s power metal that sometimes fused together but most often did not. Although the metal would become the dominating force on subsequent albums, on this debut there are large tracts of playing time that sound much more like symphonic prog than metal. In fact the leading track "The Dance Of Fools" sounds more like a neo-prog track that wouldn't sound out of place on an early Arena or IQ album. There also segments of interactive flute action which like Psychotic Waltz of the same era was quite rare in the metal universe. Add to that the often sugary sweet melodic developments and the Queen inspired harmonic singalong vocal style and it's easy to forget that this is indeed a metal band however when the metal aspects are taken off their leashes then there is no mistaken that this indeed is an 80s neoclassicallly inspired speed metal band that has more than mastered all the chops to earn that title. Even within the very first neo-proggy track Brendt Allman stuns us with his lightning blitzkrieg of neoclassical guitar runs as the track fades out." - PSIKE Team,

"Shadow Gallery" cassette, Roadrunner 1992

"Shadow Gallery" cassette inside

"The Dance of Fools," "Say Goodbye to the Morning," and "The Queen of the City of Ice," especially, show the progressive-rock songwriting style that would develop further. "Darktown"'s chorus has a surprising glam-rock sound, while "The Final Hour" is the most pure rock track on the album. For a debut album, Shadow Gallery is exceptional, showcasing the band's songwriting, playing and creativity." - David White, AllMusic

"Shadow Gallery: Double Feature"  with "Shadow Gallery" & "Carved In Stone"

"The album consists of seven songs and last for about an hour. There are no fillers on the album and every song is memorable. I´ll mention the last song on the album as a highlight. The queen of the city of ice is a really good epic song with very beautiful vocal lines and lots of great acoustic guitar playing. 17:22 minutes of soft progressive metal. In addition to the normal instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and vocals, bassist Carl Cadden-James also plays flute on a couple of the songs, which adds another dimension to Shadow Gallery´s music." - UMUR,