Shadow Keep - A Chaos Theory

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Limb Music Products
Catalog Number: LMP 0209-043 CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:16:00

What has the glowing wings of an angel, the bloodied body of a zombie, the glaring eyes of Eddie the ?ead and the writhing tentacles of Great Cthulhu? I don't know either, but it's on the cover of ShadowKeep's A Chaos Theory. At first glance I wondered if I'd managed to pick up something from the wrong genre. Don't let the Lovecraftian cover fool you the same way ? this is brutal progmetal, and it's good. Very, very good.

A Chaos Theory is the second full-length release from this English new-band-on-the-block. Formed in 1999, with the help of Karl Groom (the guitarist from Threshold, who has obviously had an influence on their style), they have already appeared in the highly prestigious metal festivals Bloodstock (England) and Headbangers Open-Air (Germany), and attracted a fair bit of attention.

At this point, with the guitar solo in "Seventeen" blasting my speakers even as I write, I'm wondering how I managed to miss out on ShadowKeep prior to this. The musicianship is great, the songs poundingly heavy and darkly atmospheric. The howling, soaring vocals of the enigmatically named Rogue M are really exceptional, calling to mind the style of classic early Fates Warning or perhaps Queensr?che (listen to "Fear And Loathing" for the best example of this). The band is tightly disciplined, and the superb production ? courtesy of Mr Groom ? makes it into a very entertaining release.

The musical skills on A Chaos Theory are a pleasure to listen to. Keep an ear out for the guitar solos in ?War Of Principles," "Believe" and the ending of "Lucifer's Pastime" which brings the album to its close. There are also very nice duets featured in "Beware The Signs" and "A Crack In The Mirror," with the guitar lines feeding off each other superbly. Lovely atmospheric acoustic passages, courtesy of Nicky Robson, are interspersed through the metal. Listen for her at the beginning of "Beware The Signs" (this acoustic theme is rehashed later in the song as a heavy riff), and the outro of "Fear And Loathing," which leads into the short keyboard solo "Kether's Syndrome." I also love the stereo-switching vocals at the beginning of "A Distant Paradox" (listen on headphones for the full effect) and Rogue's rock wail at the beginning of "Believe."

I must additionally give special mention to the drummer, Scott Higham. I generally have to know an album really, really well before I start noticing the skills of the drummer. Higham, however, is definitely a sprouting violet (the opposite of a shrinking one), and I may be so bold as to place him in the same league as Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater) or Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth) ? a drummer who isn't content to let himself blend into the background of the band. Listen for highlights of his work in "Seventeen," and the intros to "Believe" and "Lucifer's Pastime."

Overall, there isn't a weak piece in this release. About my only wish is that Rogue would diversify the vocals a little; it's all very samey, John Arch style stuff, which could do with some variation once in a while. Regardless ? A Chaos Theory definitely comes with my two thumbs up.

Similar to: Threshold, Queensryche, Fates Warning

[This review originally appeared June 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

A Distant Paradox (6:26) / Seventeen (4:57) / Beware The Signs (5:53) / Thorns And A Rose (3:56) / Believe (5:34) / Atalanta Fugiens (1:40) / A War Of Principles (3:59) / Fear And Loathing (4:28) / The Kether's Syndrome (1:22) / A Crack In The Mirror (0:52) / Chaosgenesis (4:43) / Lucifer's Pastime (5:21)

Chris Allen - guitars
Nicki Robson - guitars
Rogue M - vocals
Steve 'SK' Kightley - bass
Scott Highham - drums Guests:

Karl Groom - keyboard programming
Philippe Letawe - backing vocals (1,2,5,7,11)
Chitral 'Chity' Somapala - backing vocals (1,2,11)
Damian Wilson - vocals (4,12)

Shadow Keep (EP) (1999)
Corruption Within (2000)
A Chaos Theory (2001)
The Hourglass Effect (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin UK

Added: January 31st 2005
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Artist website:
Hits: 866
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]