Shadow Gallery - Carved In Stone

Year of Release: 1995
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9001-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:04:00

More in line with the niche the Magna Carta label is cutting for itself is Shadow Gallery. While there has been at least one release before Carved In Stone, I've yet to hear it, so I don't how Dream Theater-influenced this band really is; Carved In Stone certainly is.

All except for one track, "Alaska," that is. While very good, it also has a "tourist board commercial" sound about it during the "chorus." Something hard to describe with just words, but as this album is very much worth picking up, giving it a listen will speak a lot more to that comment.

Shadow Gallery's sound is really on the edge between Dream Theater and Queensr?che, where the vocals and vocal treatments (effects) courtesy of Mike Baker are very much like that found on Queenr?che's last two releases.

There is a leitmotif of cold throughout this album, evidenced in titles such as "Crystalline Dream," "Celtic Princess," and "Alaska."

If there are any negatives about this album it is the somewhat overdramatized (ok, pompous) imagery, especially the third track "Crystalline Dream." Romantic imagery is fine, but lyrically this track is a bit ... fluffy - something more out of heroic fantasy - think of any Harlequin Romance cover - than reality.

"Come down with fire
I want to love you
want to take you into my heart
we'll cruise the starways
and from the moment we touch our love turns into a crystalline dream."

Say what? This would have gone over in the 80's- early 90's with Winger or Warrant (yikes!!). Or, as I think of it, maybe not out of place on a Kansas album. (cf. Cairo)

But the arrangement isn't bad, mind you. I just don't see your typical prog fan (male, I'm guessing) finding this their favourite track. So, it leads me to wonder if it was something to attract some female fans? Hmmm ... I'm a female fan, yes, but not because of this track.

The album closes with the multi-part epic "Ghostship" - a mix of vocal and instrumental passages, exploring different sonic textures (segments of which are reminiscent of Tempest).

Viking incursions and the mythic aura that surrounds them is ripe for story telling and this composition taps into that. Where Led Zeppelin merely announced "I come from the land of ice and snow..." ("Immigrant Song") this song takes that theme and expands it to an saga worthy of any of the Norse Myths ...

Okay, maybe that's a bit of hyperbole

But, as the topic of "Ghostship" would suggest, the seas could be rough and there was no guarantee that, upon setting off, you would ever reach your destination. Though, for all this song's epic conceit, it fails to bring the same sense of loss that, say, Gordon Lightfoot's "Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" brings about.

The last track, untitled and unlisted (#20), wouldn't be out of place beside some of David Lanz's best solo piano work - which would be a perfect pitch to the "smooth jazz" stations like L.A.'s KTWV (The Wave).

'Course, they'd freak upon hearing the rest of the album, as it's decidedly not "smooth jazz."

Would this album go over well on radio (if they bothered)? Yes. Buy this disc. I look forward to hearing more from this band.

[Since writing this review, I picked up their first. It's okay, but this is better.]

[Aug 2005: When I first published this review in 1997, it was part of a larger context relating to my editorial published at the same time, thus the radio references - SS]

Cliffhanger (8:41) / Untitled #1 (0:40) / Crystalline Dream (5:44) / Untitled #2 (0:43) / Don't Ever Cry Just Remember (6:29) / Untitled #3 (1:03) / Warcry (5:59) / Celtic Princess (2:05) / Deeper Than Life (4:32) / Untitled #4 (0:18) / Alaska (5:18) / Untitled #5 (0:18) / Ghostship (19:84) / Untitled #6 (7:24)

Brent Allman - guitars and vocals
Carl Cadden-James - basses, flute, and vocals
Mike Baker - lead vocals
Gary Wehrkamp - piano, guitar, synthesizer, and vocals
Chris Ingles - synthesizer and piano
Kevin Soffera - drums

Shadow Gallery (1992)
Carved In Stone (1995)
Tyranny (1998)
Room V (2005)
Prime Cuts (2007)
Digital Ghosts (2009)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: April 5th 1997
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1046
Language: english


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