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Wuthering Heights - The shadow cabinet 4.5/5

Reviewed: 12-15-06


1. Demon desire
2. Beautifool
3. The raven
4. Faith - Apathy divine part l
5. Envy
6. Snow - Apathy divine part ll
7. Sleep
8. I shall not yield
9. Reason... ?
10. Carpe noctem - Seize the night

Wuthering Heights is a band that begun their career mostly in the progressive metal genre, but they became well known to power metal fans when they released their 3rd CD 'Far from the madding crowd'. I actually like their first 2 CDs ('Within' and 'To travel for evermore'), but they really did take off with 'Far from the madding crowd', as not only did they step much more into the power metal realm, but they incorporated a lot of folk elements into their sound and the end result turned many heads.

But one important aspect of 'Far from the madding crowd' that made it so great was the addition of vocalist Nils Patrik Johansson, who also belongs in Astral Doors and Space Odyssey. For those who have yet to experience Nils' voice, he can easily be compared to Dio, but he occasionally reminds me of Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian/Demons & Wizards), Fabio Minchillo (The Prowlers) and also of Jan Thore Grefstad (Highland Glory). The Dio comparison is what's immediately heard though, and this may be why Nils is such a welcomed vocalist.

Now we've got the band's 4th CD 'The shadow cabinet', and fans can rest assured that it will live up to all expectations and will probably surpass 'Far from the madding crowd' in many fans' minds. Musically, the style remains pretty much the same, but everything is taken to the next level and it's a really involved sound the band has created. Not one band hits me as a direct comparison, but I hear similarities to many bands; including Blind Guardian, The Storyteller, Freternia, Steel Attack, Falconer, Dark Moor, Falkirk, Lost Horizon, Persuader, Elvenking, Pyramaze, Human Fortress, Gamma Ray, Nocturnal Rites, and even Echo of Dalriada when Wuthering Heights is at their most aggressive. I've mentioned a lot of bands, I know, but listening to 'The shadow cabinet' is almost like listening to many bands at once.

Every song on the CD is awesome, but (as mentioned) also involved, as there are a number of changes in rhythm/tempo within each song. Believe it or not, the riffs change from slow/grinding, to galloping, to very fast, all within the first few minutes of "The raven" (and this is typical throughout most of the CD). The complex song structures make for an exciting and interesting listen though, and there are a few parts of songs that are pretty straightforward (the first half of "Sleep" for example). My favorite songs would have to be "Faith" and "Envy", as their many hooks are absolutely amazing and they both ooze tons of talent. Wrap everything up with a powerful production, some bombastic/epic moments, highly symphonic parts, and plenty of speed... you're left with an unbelievable performance!

I only have one problem with 'The shadow cabinet', and it's one that may not apply to a lot of you. Simply put, this is such an extreme/complex listen that I've found it doesn't work for certain moods. A true "masterpiece" in my mind, is a CD that will work for whatever the situation/mood may be. In fact, many of the most special CDs (to me) are easily capable of changing whatever mood I'm in. Now keep in mind, I'm not a moody guy at all, but really, there have been a few instances where I've popped 'The shadow cabinet' in my CD player and have had to take it back out and put in something that contains simple rhythms and is easier to listen to. Regardless, this is a tremendous CD that belongs in the hands of all power metal fans.




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