Shadow Keep - Corruption Within

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Limb Music Products
Catalog Number: LMP 0009 021
Format: CD
Total Time: 63:24:00

"Dark Tower" opens England-based Shadow Keep's Corruption Within, starting us off with punchy progressive power metal that is one part early Rush, one part Jag Panzer or Iced Earth. So which parts go where? Well, vocalist Rogue M sounds a bit like Geddy Lee. He's a good vocalist, but there's a flutter that suggests he's pushing it a little bit, perhaps trying too hard to have a "metal vocalist" voice. "Mark Of The Usurper" shows this in its worse light ... I referenced Bobo's review, wondering if perhaps I was missing something, since the liner notes are somewhat hyperbolic in their praise of Rogue's vocal abilities. Well, I don't think I dislike them as much as Bobo seems to, but it seems we are pretty much in agreement on a few points, some mentioned above. There are some "growly moments" on "Altar Of Madness" that last for a word or two only, but it leads to me to believe he'd have a better time if he sang growly all the time. And given the dark lyrical material, bright, upbeat vocals just counteract the edginess they need. Things improve with "Corruption Within" (except for the vocal flutter). There's just enough of a hoarse edge to Rogue's vocals and also some on-the-verge-of-hysterics highs that seem perfectly matched. On the "The Silver Sword," he sounds a bit like Geoff Tate, but just a little bit. But musically, this also sounds like a Queensryche tune, a mix of present day (prior to Q2K) and classic 'ryche. The bonus track here, by the way, is a cover of Queensryche's "Queen Of The Reich," recorded for a tribute album. Two of the album's tracks originally appeared on their self-titled 1999 debut ep Shadowkeep.

"Mark Of The Usurper" has some other problems - despite the rapid-fire drumming and frenetic bass and guitar, the only movement until the bridge is the pitch and altitude of Rogue's voice. I mean it sounds like Chris Allen (guitar), James Daley (bass), and Dave Edwards (drums) set their instruments for automatic and stepped out for a cup of coffee, only to return for the post bridge section. For example, Edwards bashes and bashes - that rapid-fire, jackhammer sound characteristic of this style of music - but I like to hear a drummer use more of his kit, even in subtle ways; Edwards seems stuck on mainly the bass drum. He does branch out on other tracks though. The trio of Allen, Daley, and Edwards, plus rhythm and harmony guitarist Nicki Robson, is a very tight unit. Though it feels as if they play at one speed only ... about 80 miles hour. When Allen gets to solo though, he shows he is quite adept. I'd dare say, Allen is the "star" of the line up. But then, I'm a guitar gal as it is. That Allen and Robson composed the music explains the guitar heavy sound. That Allen and Robson founded the band, makes this emphasis even less surprising (incidentally, Robson is one of the relatively few women in prog metal). I'd say the bass is lost in the mix, but perhaps it's because it's so solidly in tune with the drums and marching guitars that ends up being the glue that holds it together.

Shadow Keep have a pair of top drawer guests helping them out here, both of which tie Shadow Keep to such artists as Pendragon, Shadowland, Arena, Threshold, and a few others. Clive Nolan adds keyboards to "Death: New Horizon," but Nolan fans shouldn't get too excited as it doesn't amount to much - I mean, it really could be anyone playing a little symphonic keyboard accent. Not to take anything away from Nolan, but I rather suspect it was just because he was at Thin Ice Studios at the time. Karl Groom adds some additional keyboards, though I can't figure out where, as well as provides production duties for the album. Well, this isn't buried in the mix, as I must say the production on this album is top notch. What's nice is that Groom hasn't asserted his own style and feel here - in other words, this doesn't sound like a Shadowland or Threshold release.

This is, by no means, a bad album, but it could have used a more percussive variety and stronger, less histrionic vocals. These two things will help to open up the music more, make it richer, and, in the case of the latter, much easier to listen to. If I were handing out points, it'd get an 8.5 (out of 10); if I were handing out grades, it'd be a B. [Of course, in the years since I reviewed this, we did add ratings... so see below -SS]

As mere footnote: I don't know if there is any relationship, but I recall a video game that was released (or scheduled to be anyway) in the early 80s called Shadowkeep. There was also a book by Alan Dean Foster based on the video game released at the same time, though I have yet to read it. Flipping through the book, though, it seems more likely that this Shadow Keep merely dipped from the same well for their name as the game's designers.

Dark Tower (4:40) / The Trial Of Your Betrayal (4:28) / Mark Of The Usurper (6:19) / Altar Of Madness (4:42) / Corruption Within (4:34) / Cast Out (4:30) / Meta-Morale (5:02) / The Silver Sword (6:41) / Death: A New Horizon (3:51) / Murder (7:01) / Inner Sanctum (5:47) / Bonus: The Queen of the Reich (10:36)

Rogue M. - lead and background vocals
Chris Allen - lead, acoustic, and harmony guitars
Nicki Robson - rhythm & harmony guitars
James Daley - bass, background vocals
Dave Edwards - drums

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

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin UK

Added: December 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 974
Language: english


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