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Steve Walsh - Shadowman CD (album) cover

SHADOWMAN

Steve Walsh

 

Crossover Prog

3.24 | 41 ratings

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Epignosis
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Glossolalia showed the heavier side of Walsh, but this album bares its teeth and spirals into full-fledged progressive metal at many turns. Still, there is so much variety here in terms of sound and instrumentation that I think claims that this is a "progressive metal" album are unfounded. This is an absolutely solid work, with tight musicianship and spirited compositions.

"Rise" Almost like an epic war movie soundtrack, the album opens with strings and the beating of drums, but that is no indication of the metal onslaught soon to occur. The impeccable drumming almost outshines everything else on this song, including the masterful guitar playing (the solo is performed over a quickly slowing tempo, which I think is cool). Walsh even engages in a big of growling during the chorus.

"Shadowman" A cleaner (but just as dark) song follows up the blast heard first. The lyrics are picturesque, vaguely describing change and the observation of change. Again, the drums carry the song through and keep it chugging along. The acoustic-laced section in the middle has some great vocalization over it, before the whole sound drops off the planet to make room for orchestral music and a heavy metal detour back to the refrain, one of the catchiest parts of the album.

"Davey and the Stone that Rolled Away" Guitar and drums take turns before coming together into something more cohesive. I would consider this a slightly complex modern rock song until the strings enter. The instrumental section takes on a sophisticated manner due to the strings, and after a while, the song returns to the more simplistic rock that came before.

"Keep On Knockin'" This one is an old-fashioned, gritty, straightforward rocker with a shuffling beat and a steady, one-note bass line. As such, it lends itself to some guitar soloing, and Joel Kosche provides just plenty.

"Pages of Old" A pleasing acoustic section introduces Walsh's forlorn vocals. Delicate, plucked strings and other instrumentation add gentle layers of sound. A classical guitar solo concludes the song. The words are sad, similar to "Nothing" and "Serious Wreckage" of the previous album.

"Hell is Full of Heroes" Such a provocative title beggars hearing. Unfortunately, it's a fast-paced rock song with a dance beat and vocals so muddy it's difficult to hear what's being sung. The orchestral sections are brilliant, but come in abruptly and seemingly without reason. Then, out of nowhere, comes an early 1990s dance beat and some rapping before going back into the chorus. Had the song been better arranged, it would have been a much stronger piece.

"After" The longest piece kicks off right away with thundering drums, fiery guitar, and keyboard flourishes for good measure. David Ragsdale brings his violin prowess onto this song, lending it even more majesty than the arrangement itself has mustered. The introduction to this track would have been right at home on the Kansas album Somewhere to Elsewhere. The vocal sections are over bass and drums until the thrusts of electric guitar pop in. One short instrumental segment sounds closer to traditional Persian music. When an underwater-sounding Walsh sings over some spacious music, I know I am hearing a highlight of the album. The segment that follows is equally pleasing, and again, would have fit in with the aforementioned Kansas record. The final moments build into an exciting, string-laden climax charging straight to the conclusion. Overall, this is simply extraordinary work.

"The River" The final song sounds like a pop-single, but it's an excellently crafted song. I question its place in the track order, but that's no reason to knock it.

Epignosis | 4/5 |

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