Shadow Gallery - Tyranny

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MA-9016-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 73:52:00

While its nothing new to say that Shadow Gallery have taken more than a few pages from Queensryche, for example, Tyranny seems to be a distilling of all the parts into a cohesive whole. Yes, there are shades of of Operation: Mindcrime here, at least thematically.

The premise of this rock opera is not sure what it really wants to be. Is it: the sudden realization, by the protagonist, that our government is imperialistic, waging war against so called Third World countries? Is it: a commentary on how greedy, superficial, and corrupt we've all become? Is it: We have lost faith in God?

Yes, and that's just the first Act. We also get a modem-based romance between our protagonist and a like-minded woman - or perhaps a government plant, drawing out our hero ("Mystery", "Spoken Words"). We get Big Brother monitoring our communications, including the Internet - not really far different from the future Orwell imagined in 1984 and not far from the truth. What one would hope is fiction is the nefarious uses the gathered information may put be to - beyond junk email (which is nefarious enough, I know).

For the most part, the music and in-your-face arrangements are too dense, complex, and intense for casual listening, some exceptions being the mid-tempo "Mystery," and the balladic "Hope For Us?"

The device that Shadow Gallery employ frequently is the use of voices to carry melody, both solo and in multi-part harmonies, especially on those prog-metal workouts.

Vocalist Mike Baker has a good, strong voice, easy on the ears, and yet so very typical for this style of music. Guest vocals are provided by Dream Theater's James LaBrie, Royal Hunt's DC Cooper, and Laura Jaeger, who duets on the above mentioned "Spoken Words." Too, the musicianship here is impressive.

Here, too, as in albums reviewed both this issue and last*, the Middle East finds itself as a topic. While nothing on Tyranny has a particularly Middle Eastern feel or rhythm, it instead provides a launching pad for the story, by way of political commentary.

I didn't care for this album on first listen, too much sounded the same to me - the rhythm, colours, textures - but after repeated listenings, distinctions began to resolve.

This is considerably less saccharine than Carved In Stone. Certainly there are "soft" moments - piano interludes, intros, outros, etc., the above mentioned ballad - but nothing here to make you wince. At least not too much, though "Roads Of Thunder" comes close.

If you liked their previous disks, or their contemporaries', you'll like this. I do, but it isn't my favorite for the year.

[*When I originally wrote this... I updated in "issues" and uh... it's that to which I refer... basically, that which I wrote in August 1998.]

Stiletto In The Sand (1:57) / War For Sale (5:35) / Out Of Nowhere (4:20) / Mystery (5:42) / Hope For Us? (6:00) / Victims (5:13) / Broken (1:54) / I Believe (8:41) / Roads Of Thunder (6:06) / Spoken Words (4:38) / New World Order (8:11) / Chased (4:36) / Ghost Of A Chance (5:19) / Christmas Day (5:40)

Carl Cadden-James - bass, vocals, and flute
Brent Allman - guitars and vocals
Chris Ingles - piano and synthesizer
Gary Wehrkamp - guitar, piano, synthesizer and vocals
Joe Nevolo - drums
Mike Baker - lead 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: January 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1062
Language: english


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