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Shadowland - Through the Looking Glass CD (album) cover





3.20 | 60 ratings

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3 stars Shadowland was Clive Nolan's first attempt to create a real progressive band outside Pendragon. Even though the band appeared in the nineties, they explore the neo prog pop of the eighties. You easily notice the influences of Marillion (period 1987 - 1989) or Pendragon but also British pop bands like Simple Minds or Then Jericho, just to name a few. The pop tendencies were the heritage of the music Nolan wrote prior to his joining of Pendragon. Hearing it now, one can wonder if the music is able to survive that period of time. Songs like "dreams of the ferrymen" or "The waking hour" are little more than catchy pop tunes with a an impressive progressive arrangement with heavy guitar chords and moogs. In case of "The waking hour" it works out fine. The chorus tune is most enjoyable and the arrangements impressive. "Half moon street" is the track I love the most. This wonderful track combines dark atmospheres, accessible emotional melodies and a big dark rhythm section. Another splendid chorus melody and the double guitars form an astonishing wall of sound at the end of the track. Guitarist Karl Groom does an excellent job throughout the whole album. His guitar parts are heavy in most parts but there's also plenty of slide guitar and every now and then, there's a gentle sounding part. The title track is based on the work of Lewis Carroll of the same name. This is the emotional heart of the album. The composition of different parts and fragments would fit in on an Arena album perfectly. Still I cannot deny the feeling there's something missing.. Lyrically "When the world turns to white" is about the beauty of a landscape covered with snow hiding the rubbish underneath. A great idea for a lyric. The song starts with a harpsichord with a violin on top of a great vocal part of Nolan. The wonderful chorus melody gets broadened later on by adding spooky key lines and heavy guitar chords underneath. Great track !

This is quite a strange neo-prog album. A combination of sing a long melodies, popish atmospheres, haunting horror themes in the arrangements and lyrics. There is a strange kind of desperate, paranoid feeling to the music and especially the vocals. Nowadays I guess a lot of people would find this pathetic but until the beginning of the nineties, emotional music was sustained. Nolan wrote all of the album and I suspect him going through an emotionally difficult period at the time. So this isn't exactly what I would call uplifting music. Still the inspired melodies show what a musical genius this man really is.

"A matter of perspective" and "mindgames" have Floydian influences. These rather plain tunes are awesome thanks to the excellent melodies. The interesting lyrics sum up the general idea in the lyrical themes on this album. From the three albums this band released, this is the most consistent and interesting to my humble opinion but I guess it's solely a matter of personal taste. Still I doubt whether I would recommend "Through the looking glass" or not. The small scale production, boring rhythm section and dated key sounds are the main reason. Still this album could interest the legion of Arena fans.

Fishy | 3/5 |


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