Shadow Gallery - Room V

Year of Release: 2005
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 207
Format: CD
Total Time: 75:36:00

Without question, this is their best release to date. Their guitarist, Brendt Allman, states that they set out to make the heavier parts heavier, the prettier parts prettier, and to mature as storytellers. It looks to me that they have met all the guidelines to this self-imposed assignment.

They've developed their own unique sound. In turn, they can no longer be categorized as another progressive metal clone. The compositions are rich and rewarding. While each song provides something new, cleverly integrated themes flow frequently throughout the album in the most fluent manner. The secret recipe results in a concoction that is both visceral and viscous. They've done an excellent job coming up with a vast number of catchy choruses. There is also an abundance of brilliant bridges pouring from it portholes. The album is a dazzling display of superior skill in the songwriting department. The lyrics are nothing to scoff at either. It's the kind of album that will be well-received by many fans. The prescription is approved for immediate release upon the general population.

It is important to point out that the concept behind this creation comes from an earlier album called Tyranny. The protagonist is someone who lost a prestigious position at a security firm. In accordance with his termination, he not only loses his job, but loses his special clearance as well. In an effort to reconcile this series of unfortunate events, he thirsts for an explanation. He ultimately becomes enlightened about the corporate machine that drives our government. This album is a continuation of that particular concept, picking up in the third act.

As for how it sounds, many influences come to mind. Various sequences are straight out of Pink Floyd's catalog. Another obvious influence is Dream Theater. There are even moments that kick up Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime. You'll also find an aspect of Symphony X in the music as well, especially when it comes to the keyboard-playing. If that's not enough, elements from their earlier albums are sure to surface.

Here are the active ingredients found within Shadow Gallery's latest formula:


"Manhunt" - The start of the album is completely instrumental. It really accelerates down the street with a fresh burst of nitro. It's terribly short and in no time flat we are ready for the next piece. This is classic Shadow Gallery all the way. It's loud, powerful, and fast, but comes buffered with the kind of trace elements typically found in the dusty winds of Kansas.

"Comfort Me" - The primary theme is introduced here. Therefore, this could have easily been the opener instead. Unlike the previous piece, this one is very laidback. It's basically a ballad. What I like most about this track is the numerous times where it seems to have finished, but then continues on. After each prudent pause, it gets right back into the thick of it. Early on, we are hit with this extraordinary highlight.

"The Andromeda Strain" - This may very well be the best track on the album. It tells a story that's easy to follow, the melodies are intuitive, and the transformations are timely. One bridge sounds like "Born Brilliant" off of IQ's Dark Matter. It also has that kind of edgy beat found in Erik Norlander's Music Machine. A second bridge is completely different from the first as it channels the charisma of a classical piano. There are many pieces and parts, but by no means is this piecemeal. The outline is tight. If I'd have to venture a guess, I'd say this one benefited from a heap of studio refinement.

"Vow" - The album seems to titter-totter between energetic progressive metal tunes and peaceful ballads. Here we go back to the latter. The dichotomy of these polar opposites gives the album the most even balance. As for this song, the music is calm and painless, but heed caution. This one undulates like a colossal wave that has massive weight under its lethargic motions. The harmony is radiant and reactive like the aftershocks caused by a tidal wave. There is menace in each gesticulation as it pounds its heavy hand against the shoreline.

"Birth Of A Daughter" - This song starts like the beginning to Dream Theater's Train Of Thought (or the ending of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, take your pick). Rather than going off into a nightmarish metal scene, it instead takes an approach that's more or less Symphony X. This trite little tune suits its purpose fine as if the linen was sown by Versace himself.

"Death Of A Mother" - The material in this fabric picks up where the last one left off. It's so seamless that it would be difficult to find any stitching. Yet, the cloth in each half is in no way similar to the other. At first, it seems to be hitting upon Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime with the use of a bizarre emergency room soundbyte. When we arrive at the core, Chris Ingles has moments that closely resemble Jordan Rudess' outtake in Dream Theater's "Dance of Eternity." The passageways to follow take us from Pink Floyd's The Wall over to The Dark Side Of The Moon.

"Lamentia" - This short storytelling narrative reminds me of the hypnotic opening that starts Dream Theater's Scenes From A Memory (that would be "Scene One: Regression").

Act IV

"Seven Years" - This track brings fantasy flicks such as Willow and Krull to mind. Eventually, the flutes and bells make way for an overly enthusiastic guitar. Belligerence and zealousness emanate with each passing note.

"Dark" - Like Flower King's Retropolis, a shadow overcasts this song. We get soundscapes that are dark and gloomy, but the slightest gleam of light refracts from within its reflection.

"Torn" - After a handful of short interludes, we finally get a full-length song and it is well worth the wait. There is an aspect of this song that certainly says Styx, but Symphony X is present in there as well. To put another spin on the story, Carl Cadden-James' flute rides one of the songs rotations. It seems the material is torn between a state of angst and an attitude that's trying to be uplifting. This is one of Shadow Gallery's best songs yet. Like "Andromeda Strain," it is obvious this one was tweaked many times over. There is almost no flaw to be found in the genes of this new-fangled species. The chorus is so engaging it will give your nervous system a jolt. It's like crack in a can. On this album, it is easy to differentiate between the highlights. However, it is almost impossible to choose a favorite when several tracks are calibrated to this caliber of quality.

"The Archer of Ben Salem" - The previous track sets up the one-two punch. Here we get beat by rhythms that are much heavier and grittier. While it's not quite as wicked as Megadeth, it seems to set a similar tone, especially in Mike Baker's vocals. The instrumental intermission in the middle is phenomenal. Each fighter trades their best licks. Unfortunately, it is we who wind up on the receiving end of this battery of blows. You'll be seeing stars before this one is over. What's said about "Andromeda Strain" and "Torn" can also be said for this song. We get another clip for the highlight reel.

"Encrypted" - This one sticks and moves as it dances around the ring. It coasts through the round picking up points all the while enjoying a restful pace. Many themes reappear at will. With all the great material that we've already encountered, this is simply more butter and syrup on top a batch of tasty griddle cakes. As Pink Floyd has demonstrated in past works, some songs merely act as a conduit between the connectors. While this may not stand on its own entirely, this particular module is essential for proper functionality.

"Room V" - After a long siesta, we are ready for the most significant song on the album, the title track. While this may not have the strongest start, it seems the best moments are saved specifically for this song. There are so many great instrumental hooks; they're just too many to count. At the end of the wire is a fisherman with a firm grip. Every time the line unravels, we're reeled back in with a whole new technique. We're totally outclassed and it is almost futile to resist. It's merely a matter of time before we're pulled out of the safety of our domain. When the worst finally happens, we are left flip-flopping in a dry bucket. Our gills try as best they can to grasp for oxygen. Our efforts are unproductive and it quickly leads to a bleak situation. Luckily, the shock to the system is only temporary. Mercy is shown as we're tossed back to the reality of our underwater realm. This song totally exhibits this type out of body experience.

"Rain" - The album finishes with the longest piece. While the guitar slashes with the serration of a sharp knife, the drums hungrily pick meat from the bones. The vocals are really vain. The keyboards, however, provide the warmth from a sultry heating lamp. The song is a culmination of all that's been experienced earlier on the album. It's light and dark. It's fast and slow. Each instrumentalist shows synergy as they swarm in synchronicity. Likewise, they each show individuality when it comes time for them to perform their solos. This song is pleasantly mixed, marvelously produced, and executed with the most precise melodies. I hear Mullmuzzler (wonder why) and Kamelot in the essence of this song. In an album that boasts many cultured characteristics, they choose to end on one of their biggest highlights.

ACT III : Manhunt (2:07) / Comfort Me (6:49) / The Andromeda Strain (6:44) / Vow (8:25) / Birth Of A Daughter (2:38) / Death Of A Mother (2:13) / Lamentia (1:02) / ACT IV : Seven Years (3:35) / Dark (1:01) / Torn (8:21) / The Archer Of Ben Salem (7:26) / Encrypted (7:59) / Room V (7:42) / Rain (8:59)

Brendt Allman - guitar, vocals
Mike Baker - lead vocals
Carl Cadden-James - bass, vocals, flute
Joe Nevolo - drums
Gary Wehrkamp - guitars, keyboards, piano, vocals

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: August 6th 2005
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website:
Hits: 951
Language: english


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