Shadow Gallery - Tyranny 5/5

Reviewed: 8-5-05


1. Stiletto in the sand
2. War for sale
3. Out of nowhere
4. Mystery
5. Hope for us?
6. Victims
7. Broken
8. I believe
9. Roads of thunder
10. Spoken words
11. New world order
12. Chased
13. Ghost of a chance
14. Christmas day

Shadow Gallery has been able to outdo, or at least equal, one of my all time favorite CDs, 'Carved in stone’, with the follow–up, ‘Tyranny’, the band's 3rd CD. ‘Tyranny’ is a concept album about a man who becomes disenchanted with being an engineer for products of war and whose life falls apart around him.

The music is excellent, although a little different from its predecessor. Most of the tracks on this CD are midtempo with an occasional faster track and a few ballads. The basic Shadow Gallery sound is still there with huge backing vocals supporting excellent singer Mike Baker. The CD is always full of surprises; you never know when a guitar or keyboard run is about to start. Most of the CD has a backing guitar, with the guitar and keyboard solos plus the layered vocals on top. Dramatic is a word that easily comes to mind. Guitars are frequently used to punctuate a big moment in a song, much the way italics could be used in writing, to really grab your attention.

2 well known singers are guest vocalists here. Dream Theater's James LaBrie has a small part in "I believe". His part has little impact with his voice not being too dissimilar to Baker's. Having a much bigger impact is former Royal Hunt vocalist, the awesome D.C. Cooper, who plays the bad guy on "New world order", reminding me of James Young's playing of Dr. Righteous in Styx' "Kilroy was here". Cooper is perfect for the part, having an intentional snarl to his voice.

There are no low points to this CD. My favorites are "Mystery", "Broken", and "Ghost of a chance". "Mystery" is an uptempo track that just screams with melody. "Broken", a very short song, sounds a lot like Meatloaf, both in songwriting and vocals. And, although, I usually like faster tracks, the slow "Ghost of a chance" is my favorite on the CD. It didn't leap out at me initially, but now the melody just does something to me every time I hear it.

It's the small things I love about Shadow Gallery. On "Ghost of a chance”, the first time through, Baker sings all by himself. On the later part of the 2nd time through, there are tight vocal harmonies accompanying Baker. Those little things are what makes Shadow Gallery such an excellent group.

This is a CD that really needs to be listened to, even by those who think they may not like it. It's obviously a must buy for prog–rock/metal fans, but others should consider getting this to try, because Shadow Gallery, in my opinion, is unlike any other music when you combine the accessibility, progressiveness, production, playing, songwriting, and attention to detail.




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