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Shadow Gallery

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5 stars One of prog metal's standout discs, and Shadow Gallerys definite apogee. They'll never make an album like this again, which their 2001 effort Legacy shows all too well. What makes this album so good is it's highly delicate blend of musicianship and melody as well as diversity and continuity underlined by impeccable craftmansship. There are no bad or even mediocre songs on Tyranny, each one is an excellent track that merits closer listening and study. Having transcribed 12 out of the 14 songs, I can safely say that the multitude of layers and stratas is simply daunting and is proof of the sheer amount of work required to make it. Five stars and deserving each one!
Report this review (#6533)
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars What can i say? It is a high designed album, composed by a outstanding musicians playing at his high levels of music execution. But always there are something bad about a record: the voice is the low point of the group. Sometimes Baker becomes noisy and his registry maybe is not the exactly voice what the group are looking for, but its ok. Allman is one of the highest point of the group, with an incredible execution and riffs that "reach the glory". A master piece of the prog metal.
Report this review (#6535)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This CD has been in my collection for years. But, right after my review with Fates Warning "FWX" couple days ago, I was tempted to have this CD for some spins. At the same time, actually I was also putting Frameshift in my CD player. So these two albums were on competition for my CD player. I have to be honest that Shadow Gallery "Tyranny" won the competition as I put more spins and more like it compared to Frameshift. It's probably that "Tyranny" has much more power and it's more technical too. This album was released six years after their weak (especially on drumming and composition) debut album. But with this third album Shadow Gallery has proven their capability in creating excellent progressive metal composition with flawless delivery.

The album contains two parts (Act I and II) with each part comprising 7 tracks - so in total there are 14 tracks. Act I opens with an energy driving music performed in fast tempo with no vocal line: "Stiletto In The Sand". This track projects a war nuance with all instruments played in high technical skills. Fast speed neo-classical guitar combined with keyboard and upbeat drumming. It flows seamlessly with a keyboard sound at the end of the track to next track " War For Sale". This second track seems like a power metal outfit in the vein of Germany's Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, etc. The voice of the band lead singer, Mike Baker, is a blend of Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Michael Kiske (Helloween). The keyboard at background provides symphonic nuances for this track. So, where is the prog element? Well, I think during transitions and interlude there are complex music with some tempo changes. Not a lot but it's nice. This is an excellent track with good melody.

"Out Of Nowhere" continues in moderate tempo, slower than previous one. The opening part has some simple guitar riffs. Harmony vocals are excellent. Interlude part with lead guitar is excellent. This track is accessible to vast majority of rock music buffs. On vocal line, if you are familiar with Helloween, there are parts that show similar voice. The inclusion of flute in this track has created a unique musical taste.

It flows almost seamlessly with fourth track "Mystery" with a faster tempo than previous. Again, the harmony vocals and melody line of this track are excellent. The prog elements are demonstrated through interlude part before the music returns to original tagline melody. Having been in relatively fast tempo music with first four tracks, track 5 "Hope For Us ?" brings us to a ballad slow rock style of music. Piano touch and acoustic guitar work show the influence of classical music. "Victims" opens with a classical piano backed with keyboard sound. The music turns into higher register with excellent harmony vocals. "Broken" concludes Act I with piano and operatic vocal in mellow style - backed with keyboard.

Act II kicks off with "I Believe" with choir intro in excellent symphonic music background, influenced with classical music. Harmony vocals and melody are great in this track. James LaBrie of Dream Theater appears in this vocal line. "Roads Of Thunder" brings the music back to a high energy and power with excellent marriage of keyboard and guitar sounds. The music turns into slower tempo marked with stunning guitar solo. I think, the band is master in creating melodic song like this one. "Spoken Words" is almost a classical music with its piano touch and violin work. This is a very catchy track with vocals line performed in duet with Laura Jaeger. No drumming.

"New World Order" opens with powerful voice of DC Cooper of Royal Hunt performed with an ambient style. He sings like an opera act backed with keyboard and excellent choir. This track is really powerful performed in moderate / slow tempo. It has a strong melody and tight structure with smooth musical passages between transitions. The ending part with violin, keyboard and guitar works in neo- classical is really superb! Drum work is getting more dynamic throughout the ending part. Overall, the ending has created a climax that creates ultimate satisfaction. It's an enjoyable track and accessible to many listeners.

"Chased" blasts off with speed and power music. Keyboard and guitar dominate this instrumental track. Some keyboard work reminds me to Keith Emerson. (It also happens in some other tracks). It flows to ""Ghost Of A Chance" with acoustic guitar and piano to accompany vocal line. Performed in moderate / slow tempo. The album concludes with a mellow and melodic track "Christmas Day" performed beautifully with excellent piano and flute works that create classical nuance. Halfway through the full music (with drumming and bass line) enter the music featuring excellent guitar solo. It then returns bak to original tagline melofy. Beautifully composed!

Overall, it's an excellent progressive metal album with appropriate balance between fast and medium tempo tracks; well positioned to form an excellent musical flow, album- wise. My overall rating is 4.25 out of 5. Keep on progging! - GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#6537)
Posted Sunday, January 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I would have never thought that in the late 90's one of the best album of the rock era would be released. I thought that after such masterpieces as "Shadow Gallery" and "Carved in Stone" this super-talented band would take a stand.It is enough to listen to a track like "Chased" and be convinced that these people come from another far advanced music planet. The ability to mix gentle progressive melodies with incredible guitar and key solos , the epic voice and catchy choruses make this album a must not only for progressive fans but for all music lovers.
Report this review (#6538)
Posted Sunday, March 20, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is as well a masterpiece as their latest effort, Room V. Tyranny is often compared to Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime, but I don't think that this is appropriate. Shadow Gallery is more prog, whereas Queensryche is more mainstream rock/metal. Let me clarify that I love Mindcrime as well and consider it to be a masterpiece, too. But it is more accessible than Tyranny, which takes some more time to grow on you.

Many friends of mine listened to it and then complained about it being boring, and all songs sound the same. It is true that Shadow Gallery (like Symphony X, for that matter) have their own sound, that

they vary a little bit from song to song, but not as much as for example Dream Theater did on Images And Words or Awake.

But Tyranny is about killer melodies (the ballads, Spoken Words), stunning guitar/keyboard acrobatics (Stiletto in the Sand), and interesting and credible lyrics (New World Order). The musicians easily match the qualities of Romeo, Petrucci, Rudess and the likes. The singer is also very nice, although when you first hear the vocals you find the voice a little too unspectacular ... but it grows on you just like the whole package!

Report this review (#35149)
Posted Friday, June 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars You are in the presence of a REAL masterpiece of prog metal here: this album is DEFINITELY among my all-time top 10 prog metal albums! "Tyranny" is a sentimental progressive metal album, as reveal the many emotional piano-modern floating keyboards combinations a la Dream Theater and Eternity X, enhanced by TONS of EXTREMELY PLEASANT & CATCHY lead & backing vocals, reminding Greg Lake and James LaBrie (Dream Theater). This record has very emotional/romantic bits so that many women should like it. I loved it at the first listen! There is a very good balance between the metal bits and the sentimental ones: that's why Shadow Gallery's "Tyranny" is not just a monolithic prog metal album: the tracks have a strong character, although being very accessible, and I think the music here is more based on feelings and emotions than on technical performance. The tracks are VERY catchy, accessible and not extremely complex, although many bits are technically impressive, like on "War for sale". Most of the tracks have very poignant and beautiful moments, like on the outstanding "Ghost of a chance". All the tracks are at least VERY good.

Regarding the metal bits, the rhythmic electric guitar is very good and the solos are quite melodic: the guitar riffs do not take all the room, and they are quite integrated with the overall music. The musicians do not relax at all on "Stiletto in the sand", showing by speed and synchronization their technical capabilities. Any prog metal fan MUST know this record!


Report this review (#41202)
Posted Monday, August 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars I am now starting to knock off some of the negative reviews i have to write as i normally avoid these, which is noticable in my collaborator profile. I find it a lot more difficult to right negative reviews for an album because I always have less to say, but here goes...

I got "Tyranny" because I am a huge Dream Theater fan and thought that similar prog metal acts would really appeal to me. I got Shadow Gallery's "Tyranny" album and it was very disapointing. I have nothing against the technical side of the musicians as they all have great skill but they just can't write decent songs in my opinion.

This album is filled with excessive amounts of keyboard solos, shredding solos and cliche vocals and lyrics that Dream Theater have already done and mastered to become one of the best prog metal bands of all time. When i listen to Shadow Gallery all i hear is a stereotypical DT clone. This may seem harsh of me but I still gave the album a chance. I found the concept of this album to be absolute pants, some of the song titles and lyrics are just embaressing. I found a great lack of emotion in this album and listening all the way through was painful and boring.

Report this review (#44700)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a six star CD, its true and if your into progressive metal I`m sure you will agree. The material on this CD is so strong that for me it was life changing, very few CD`s can I say that about. The songs are brilliant and varied , the music just splendid with emotion and execution that has to be heard to be believed. I love the label Magna Carta (who these guys are on) they only sign up the best artists. If you want a CD with a huge concept that will provide a life time of entertainment get this. Thank you Shadow Gallery for providing us with one of the greatest Prog Metal CD of all time !
Report this review (#47992)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ahhh... Here it is... My 1st review... And I start with a supreme album! "Tyranny" is one of the greatest progressive metal albums ever... To Bad this band is so underrated by prog lovers...

What's the concept all about? Why, I won't tell You!!! Buy Yourself This Cd & Room V and just find out... The album is dividied into 2 acts. I can only say its a quite modern story, including computer hacking, a dangerous bio virus, falling in love by internet & more:)... Some may find it cheesy a bit, but the emotional, symphonic & powerfull music + the greatest vocal harmonies ever know to mankind fight the feeling away!!!

The intro, Stiletto in the Sand is a small instrumental show-off. It's clear that these people know how to use their instruments just like Dream Theater, Symphony X & other prog metals greatest. Although these 2 mins of musical acrobatics are quite complicated, they'r still full of very nice melodies, that may even sound catchy to one's ear! 4/5

The 1st normal song is "War for Sale"... If You like this one then You're a Shadow Gallery fan for sure... Very fast, great melodies, great keyboard that add a nice symphonic touch & awesome harmonic vocals that give You shivers!Mike Baker is a very one of the bes tvocalists out there! The music isn't dark, though the lyrics aren't quite happy... 4/5

"Out of Nowhere" is a bit slower then the previous track... A nice & lazy guitar soloing throuout + a bit dreamy (Might I say "High"?) vocal style by Mike & the band. At the ned We experiance a great Kevin Mooresque Synth Solo & a nice flute part by Band Mastermind Carl Cadden-James... Higly enjoyable... 4/5

Its time for the 1st higlight of the album (Actually the whole "Tyranny" is a higlight!)! The Song "Mystery"!Soaring vocals, upbeat tempo, Awesome shredding guitar solos, again cool majestic Keyboard parts in the vein of early Dream Theater make this song the perfect, tipical SG song! The vocals again give me shivers everytime I hear them! Adictive chorus! 5/5

The 1st real ballad on the album... "Hope for Us?" Gives me shivers & makes me wanna cry everytime I hear it... Great piano by Chris Inges, Nice emotional Lyrics, great'n'melodic guitar solo & a superbly beautyful vocal performance by Baker & co. ... Another higlight of many... 5/5 This song is very symphonic... Quite slow tempo, again a very majestic & dreamy chorus... I praise Wehrkampf/Allman for the mesmerising guitar work... The song "Victims" opened the world of Shadow Gallery for me. I loved it to death, So I've grown just a bit tired of it.. still great though. 4/5

What have we here? Just a filler song or something similar to Stiletto? Never! "Broken" is a samall sparkling diamond that explodes with emotion every time You play it! Mike Baker's voice makes me wanna cry everytime I put this on... The lyrics are very Sad & poethic... 2 mins of sheer Sadness & beauty... And the end of Act 1 5/5

The 2nd part of the album begins with a big symphonic metal blast... "I Belive" has everything that a perfect Song should have! Soaring vocals, heavy guitar rffs, melodic & tastefull solos, great Rythm Section work + Kevin James Labrie singing a small part! Long, but never boring... I was in Awe when I 1st heard it... 5/5

Now this is quite similar to "Mystery"... And as briliant & adictive... "Roads Of Thunder" has all the pros of that song... again very melodic Chrorus... Who writes such briliant melodies stuff nowadays? 5/5

A very interesting song here.... "Spoken Words" is a great vocal male/female duet! Mike Baker again shows how awesome his voice is! Some moments are allmost Operatic! Chris Inges does some more great background piano... But what bout Laura Jaeger, the "Mystery"? Never heard of her, but she's got a hell of a voice. Very Powerfull, but also emotional... 5/5

Another powerfull, long track here... "New World Order" has yet another guest singer, who is unknown to me... But he still does an awesome job, with his powerfull, cold, evil operatic voice! Even when You don't know the lyrics, You feel that he must must sing the "bad guy" part... This piece of music made my jaw drop just like "I Belive" we have some great instrumental Acrobatics here! Dream Theater aren't the ownly perfect instrumentalists around! 5/5 This is the 2nd instrumental song on "Tyranny" Its far longer then Stiletto, but its worse! It gets a bit boring... I know the are awesome at pleaying their instruments, but it'd be better if they left that as a part of their music, not concetrate on it... 3/5

A nice melow track comes next... "Ghost of a Chance" is great change from the endless solos of "Chased". More great emotional & sad vocals by Baker... You can actually hear that Ghost of a chance in his voice... the feeling is awesome! But what comes next is even better... 4/5

The final track... And what a song it is! I first felk kinda strange when I saw the title... "Chrismass Day"? Are Shadow Gallery gonna give me a symphonic version of "Jingle Bells"? Thank God no! I hate writing everything again & again... I hate using the same words & expresions all over gain... But My English is just sooo limited... It starts with a chill... Then the come the sadest piano & synths I've ever heard since "Space-dye Vest"! Inges is truely marvelous! Baker does it again also! i must say that his vocals made me actually Cry once... Theres a powerfull and long guitar solo in the middle but It does not destroy the whole Song... Its strange, but full of passion... Perfect... Not sure who played it, so I'll just say that both Allman & Wehrkampf are awesome! The album ends with the most depresingly beautyful vocals & lyrics known to my small & young mind... 5/5

This album brought me to my knees... Its Perefect... Sometimes Heavy, sometimes mellow, allways melodic, allways emotional (Sorry for overusing this word throughout the review) and allways symphonic... It is allso very complex... Perefect Modern Prog? Yes indeed!

Report this review (#50751)
Posted Saturday, October 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Okay, I have to admit this is good.

Get this straight, I am not a fan of prog metal. I think it's overly violent and the use of graunting or swearing as never seemed to me anything useful but a weak commercial thing. Call me Ned Flanders I don't care, I think progressive rock is a more 'intelligent' kind of music and doesn't need to mold itself inside the fashion of the world. This been said, get that: this is not really metal nor progressive nor commercial but entirely tasty!

Is Shadow Gallery really metal? I think it's basically good muscle rock, not heavier than Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. Tyranny gives you a lot of good solos a la Satriani, perpetuous double bass drum, arpegos of keyboards and hard rock vocals. And over that, the story is actually going somewhere. Oh goodie! Something else than knights and dragons, get this : world pandemia. Like the Spanish Flu in the 1920's, Tyranny is talking about small pox that could vaporize the entire nation. Talk about actuality considering the bird flu factor, growing slowly but surely.

Musically, Tyranny is nothing short of intense and entertaining. Americans surely knows how to keep interest, and Shadow Gallery is keeping the pace fast and the performances full throttle. No songs seems to suffer from 'filler syndrome', but they seem to jump from another time zone. Indeed and unfortunetaly for some, Shadow Gallery seems to fuel more on the early 90's than today's production. The sound and compostions' textures could tend on the Images and Words side. Too bad, because if this would be remixed with an 'Octovarium attitude', we'd get one nasty son of gun. The fact that Shadow Gallery's main (and I mean it) influence is Dream Theater is okay, since they are both extremely talented musicians. On the other hand, why do they keep the same old 1993 sound? The best example should remain Octovarium, previously stated. Dream Theater is a good example of a band that's going with the flow, keeping the whole sound and production fresh and updated, even sometimes ahead of it's time.

Despite the relatively old sound (vocal harmonies reminds Cinderella and Poison), this is a very, very enjoyable concept experience. Tyranny and Room V should be a part of anyone who dares to listen to prog metal, not only because of their cool stories, but also because of the choruses that drills right into your cortex and makes you want to sing out loud. Like I said, I'm not the one rooting for prog metal, but this one is varied enough to create it's own little universe. To make it more imaged, if Tyranny would be a movie, it would be Michael Bay's Armaggedon. In think you got the picture.

Report this review (#64634)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I'm not a big fan of concept albums. I think too many prog bands feel an obligation to record such an album, even when it doesn't suit their talents. This is usually why so many concept albums fall flat on their face. My biggest complaint with concept albums is that the music is often lost in the pursuit of the "story". This makes for albums with songs that can't stand on their own and albums loaded with useless filler tracks.

All that aside, I can say that Shadow Gallery have proved to me that a band can actually record a concept album that sounds like an album. The songs on Tyranny can easily stand on their own as single tracks. There aren't any meaningless filler tracks or non-musical narrations. What the band presents here is a cohesive collection of great songs that you can easily identify.

And the music? Well let's just say that this is top notch prog metal. It's progressive music with a metallic bite and yet it's metal music with progressive tendencies. It's neither light nor is it heavy. It's just a excellent mixture of styles and textures without being boring or pretentious. Another aspect I love about this album is the use of vocal harmonies. At times it really reminds me of Uriah Heep with Mike Barker often sounding very similar to Bernie Shaw. The choruses are well executed and catchy which is yet another reason why each of the songs can stand on their own.

As much as I like Dream Theater, Tyranny is a much better executed concept album than Scenes from a Memory. While Tyranny isn't as heavy or as instrumentally bombastic; it is certainly more cohesive, better paced, and more even from start to finish. I would recommend this album highly to prog metal fans if you want to hear what I consider to be the right way to do a concept album. Some of you may not agree with my assessment of concept albums, but for those of you that do, this is definitely an album you need! I'd gladly give this album 4.5 stars if it were allowed.

Report this review (#68783)
Posted Wednesday, February 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Okay, 'Tyranny' was my introduction to this band called 'Shadow Gallery'. This album is very versatile, it has lots of elements that keep the listener tuned in and excited. When I first listened this album, I thought it was great, truly a masterpiece, but after listening to it couple of months I noticed bad sides of it easily, and this album really isn't prog.

This album has a concept, it is divided into two acts. The first act starts with 'Stiletto in the Sand', which includes furious drumming and guitarring, nice fills and tense feeling. Then after the intro climax it cools off to a nice keyboard melody and rises to next song named 'War for Sale'. This is very basic rock song. The riff is actually pretty lame, and the singing quite boring. Nothing special about the track. The next song is even more boring. I'm talking about 'Out of Nowhere'. The guitars in the track are heard too many times and the nice little flute melody don't save much. Disappointing first tracks after fine intro. The next song keeps the listener away from anger. 'Mystery' is my favourite track in the album. Very dynamic and decent performance. Great chorus, and good verse. The beginning is good too. 'Hope for Us?' is fine ballad, but full of clichés, I like to listen it as a background music, but when I have to really listen the song, it makes me sick. Not vomiting sick, but like flu or something. The next song is 'Victims'. The track doesn't say anything. It has nothing special, nothing great in it. Every time after listening the album, I cant remember what 'Victims' sounded like. The firsr act ends with a good vocal and piano performance 'Broken'. The end of the first act kind of let the listener hoping for better.

The second act explodes with 'I Believe', which has a guest performance by James LaBrie. I love LaBrie, but I'm not sure can you call so tiny vocal performance a guest appearance. Guess so. This song is pretty good. The song is catchy and melodic at times, while being very hard rock styled. The chorus is very good. The next song keeps up the pace. 'Roads of Thunder' kicks off well and calms down a bit, the middle part is good with basic metal riff. Next is 'Spoke Words', which is a nice ballad with very beautiful female vocals and violin. Very soft and really good track. The next track is 'New World Order', which is very boring track. The beginning is frustrating. The listener has to wait for too long for the real beginning of the song. And the whole song is very dull, lame and boring. The violin and piano solos are great tough, but they don't save this bad track. Chased is my favourite. This song is the only progressive piece of music in the album, good track. The last two ballads are very emotional and cool, but don't give anything special or more to the listener.

Altough I like to listen the album, but I think it is very lame and boring. It structurally is not progressive at all, the only things are some musical time and rhythm changes that remind prog music. All in all, I don't recommend this album to any prog fans. I would give this album three stars somewhere else, but here I can't, it deserves the 'Collectors/fans only'-title. If you like hard rock or soft metal, you propably will enjoy this album.

Report this review (#80131)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Shadow Gallery's Tyranny is the first album of a two album concept. Tyranny's concept surrounds the popular concept of government control. This album deals with how countries act both internationally and domestically. Tyranny's lyrical concept is one that listeners consistently understand better with each listen. The music is more than enough to match the power of this concept.

Tyranny is one of the albums that best represents the general style of progressive metal. Shades of genre pioneers Dream Theater, Symphony X, and Fates Warning all pass. Shadow Gallery makes excellent use of two guitarist (a rarity for this genre style), poignant analog synth sounds, and rock solid drumming. The atmosphere of the album is somewhat bright considering the concept, but it gets slightly darker when necessary.

Gary Wehrkamp is the prime composer, but also makes performances on guitars and keyboards. Wehrkamp is able to compose songs with excellent depth, all the instrumentalists play togethor as a band and rarely as individuals. The orchestration is placed perfectly when it appears.

Brendt Allman is the shredder. Allman's technical licks and soaring melodies can be seen as the musical focal point of the album. Right from the beginning of the instrumental opener "Stilleto in the Sand" Allman's shred skills make a potent statement.

Mike Baker's vocals are an important part of chemistry for the band. He is able to twist and shape the sound of his voice to fit the mold of characters and settings throughout the album. Baker's natrual vocal abilities is excellent. Baker has great range and a rock solid metal tone.

Carl Cadden-James is a point of interest. Although his role as a bass player doesn't seem particularly technically demanding the groove that he supplys is crucial. The little things that a bass player like Cadden-James does like octave punches and solo comps are that little extra musical does of musical creativity that makes an album better than it should be.

Chris Ingles is the perfect keyboard counterpart for Brendt Allman. Both of these guys can shred. Ingles' synth tones are poignant analog tones that give the listener a certain nostalgia while still keeping a modern vibe. The "New World Order" composition is one of the best keyboard tracks. The pianos, orchestration, and synth parts add so much character to the song.

Joe Nevolo may be somewhat of an unsung hero in the band. Amongst shreding guitars and blazing synths with pianos and orchestration with melodic vocals the drums aren't given the attention they deserve. Nevolo is rock solid all throughout the album, but can take the spot light when he gets a chance. Nevolo's playing is much more focused on holding down the beat, but fills can easily catch a listener's attention.

The production is excellent. It's clear and creative. The guitar tones are some of the most original sounding in the genre, and the keyboards are flawless. The bass is a real charm. The high end is nostalgic tone of the seventies, but it perfectly mixed. The vocals are definately the mixing highlight. Mike Baker's vocals are dynamic, clear, and enunciated.

It's an excellent listen for any prog metal fan.

Report this review (#81008)
Posted Monday, June 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars MASTERPIECE!!!!!

One of my favorite prog albums of all times!!! Tyranny is a release that breaks boundaries of music through an innovative propousal that mixes in perfect balance new concepts in progressive rock with classical influences, all with a very original touch.

This album is rich in concept and music. But to undersatnd the impact of their music let's go back to the ending of 90's decade. Power metal had spread far and wide the musical scene, progressive rock had been revitalized in USA with the apogees of bands like Dream Theater and all the people were living a great expectation for the coming of a new millennium. So, Shadow Gallery releases "Tyranny", an album that criticizes straight ahead the lack of humanism, the business of war, the controlling of media, and the excess of power from what they call New World Order.

The concept:

Its concept begins with the cover of the CD where you can see a snake forming the dollar symbol by twisting around a spade. This snake represents the money as a mechanism of exploitation and deshumanization of the world, definetly a defiant and intelligent cover. This conceptual release is divided into two acts, each one composed of seven tracks. This fascinating story begins in "Tyranny" but the ending is on "Room V" album.

Act I: This story is about a man who lives in New York and whose life changes entirely in just one year. This man was working for the military force of United States of America in the designing of war implements and machines. He earned a lot of maney doing his job but he starts to understand that he isn't acting the way he feel it shoud be. He realizes war had become a business with high profits, but these profits are paid with blood of innocent and terrible acts of violence. He is fired and so he begins to be in real contact with real world. He starts to see warring mess, the corruption of Government due to some men hungry for power. When he leaves their job. He decides to investigate on the internet about the US government and so he discover a world he never thought it'd existed. He considers himself an honest man who believed in the system but now he realizes he had been a victim of lies all of his life. He meets a girl on the internet and eventually fell in love with her, though he had never seen her. He decides to hack the computer systems of Government and military forces causing a financial chaos. He starts to feel alone and starts to understand that the world is being manipulated by commercial tendencies. The hungry for power and the willing of having money is killing humanism. World had become a victim of violence acts. He feels terribly lost and lonely.

Act II: Our main character's father dies and in his final moments he was commanded to announce a message to the world and rescue the lack of humanization. Personally I think the main character is Shadow Gallery music and so they are commanded to humanize world. The man in the story meets the girl he had fell in love and she decides to stay by his side. He tells her about the virus he inserted in the military computer system he had hacked and impacts of it on the financial system. His girl said no word at all about her past but he knows she was being prosecuted by the US governement too. He asks her to call him in orden to speak and so she does. He convinces her to meet themselves in randevous somewhere far away, so she sends the location through a code that he deciphers. An agency that represents "New World Order" took control of all the publications, papers, TV, radio stations and every comunnication media. They monitored all transmissions and chased him. He was forced to leave New York. He left to Alaska by Christmas this same year by the side of his girl. FASCINATING STORY DON?T YOU THINK SO???

The music:

Their music is as marvelous as ths story. It's an album with clear influences from 70's progressive rock. The first track "Stiletto in the Sand" is the overture of the story and the beginning of the track "War For Sale" which reminds me of "Duke's Travels" by Genesis and Emerson, Lake & Palmer in their glorious past days. "Out Of nowhere" is a brave track that closes with impressive solos by both guitarist, keyboards of Chris Ingles, and delicate flute lines that reminds me of "Selling England by the Pound" of Genesis. Their following tracks present accoutic guitar arrangements and a soft presence of violin. "Broken" is a short of epilogue for the first part of the story: Act I.

Act II is even better; it starts with possibly the best track: "I believe". There are no words to describe this track, an unpredicatble epic of 8 minutes that you should listen and enjoy. It follows "Roads of Thunder" which is a track divided in three parts. "Spoken Words" is track sung in duo with femal vocal Laura Jaeger, a ballad that really brings my tears away every time I listen to it. "Chased" is a completly instrumental track with guitar solos and fine keyboard lines that makes a convenient environment with the story. The final track is "Christmas Day", a ballad with a sudden break at middle and solos that take one's breath away.

The band has an excellent vocalist with a particular way of singing that fits in no better manner with their fine and techinal heavy style.

In conclusion, Shadow Gallery is a clear example of the way prog metal band should sound like: precise keyboard and guitar solos, solid bass lines, technical and powerful drum arrangements without laking of subtle nuaces and very inspired lyrics.

Extremly highy reommended for prog metal and early prog rock fans!!!!

Report this review (#89721)
Posted Friday, September 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars So far, "Tyranny" has to be regarded, IMHO, as Shadow Gallery's top achievement, and I'm saying this without any intention of dismissing the previous or posterior albums they released - it's just that this concept-album brings the best of the band in terms of songwriting, performing skills and progressive moods in a prog metal vein, and so it comes to be a prog metal masterpiece for the 90s. SG doesn't hide its influences from the prog metal (Dream Theater, Royal Hunt, Queensr˙che), classic prog (Pink Floyd, Kansas, Yes) or arena rock departments (Queen, Boston), but "Tyranny" sure shows the band achieving their own voice among the usual cliche of current prog metal. In no small degree is the renewed rhythm section (with teh entry of drummer Joe Nevolo) partially responsible for the enhancement of SG's most archetypical strong points, but we mustn't overlook the magic created by all performers at unison all thorughout the various emotions and thoguths displayed in the repertoire. The album's concept revolves aroud the deceitful use of patriotism by the powers-that-be (policital and economical) in order to keep them on top of the world and owning the world's resources: an idea that was valid in the perspective of the then finished Gulf War and is still valid nowadays, unfortunately (and that's when the sequel "Room V" comes in, but that's a matter for another review). The songs' linkage follows the road of discovery, disappointment and rebellion of the main character, a guy who used to accept the major political lines without further reflection and now feels obliged to take a marginal role as a techno-anarchist. Well, the brief yet incendiary instrumental 'Stiletto in the Sand' pretty much conveys the belicist atmosphere of the theme's landscape, an atmosphere fluidly followed by 'War for Sale', the fisrt sung track. The next two songs era not as intrepid in terms of tempo and heavyness, but they build a proper melodic approach to the main character's increasing skepticism. In the beuatiful ballad 'Hope for Us?' we find skepticism replaced by melancholy in a most majestic manner: the lead vocal lines, choral arrangements, piano phrases, orchestrations, the guitar adornments, all of them are impressively used for the song's mood. While slightly louder, 'Victims' continues with the preceding song's reflective spirit, which leads to the brief ballad 'Broken'. For the second part of the album things begin to get more sophisticated in a progressive point of view: the well-ordained epics 'I Believe' and 'Roads of Thunder' plus the dramatic epic 'New World Order' (special mention for guest D. C. Cooper) comprise some of the musical highlights in the album, full of complexity, electrifying stamina and solid energy. Among all this bombast, the ballad 'Spoken Words' brings an oasis of emotionally charged romanticism. In a very concept-album fashion, the frantic instrumental 'Chased' erupts after the final menace of 'New World Order' as an effective bridge toward the sequence of the last two songs. 'Ghost of a Chance' brings a serene reflection about the preservation of hope, having an interesting ballsy rockier climax; finally, 'Christmas Day' portrays a sense of loneliness and disillusion, with the piano assuming a leading role and the flute bringing subtle textures. A beautiful end for an excellent grand opus - this is SG at their very best.
Report this review (#98190)
Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars The disappointment of the last year!!

I discovered this band via this site, while looking for some good Prog Metal bands. So I gave a listen to the song "Victims" (mp3 stream on PA), and really liked everything about it, so I decided to buy this conceptual album because of that song. Now I realise I should have listened more of it before buying, since I fell I've wasted my money and time. I just can't believe the big ratings this album recieves, it's EXTREMELY overrated!! People seem to see a lot of beauty on this (well, almost all of it) uninteresting CD!! By reading reviews here I gave the album more and more listens believing it just hasn't 'clicked' on me, and I think I've heard it until now like 30 times!! But I couldn't like it, and I tried hard to like it!! Sadly, this is my first and maybe the last CD I purchase from this band.

So, why I give this rating ot the album?:

- A lot of Prog metal bands out there are so called "DT wannabes", there are some that can play really good AND compose very good. SG isn't the case. They're trying too much to sound like DT, and to compose, to play solos, to be at classy as them... but they failed. This is PRETENTIOUSNESS (in a bad sense) at it's best!! The best example you can find of a bad pretentious album is here.

- The result of this album is a bunch of uninteresting songs (well, almost all of them), BUT with really catchy vocals along the entire disc. I mean, these guys do not know to compose well, at least to keep my attention on the songs and enjoy them.

- The damn annoying choir they use on almost all the tracks!! That Queenesque choir, really does not fit with the songs and is used in a cheesy (poppy) way. And it would be obvious to say that the voices in the choir are miles away from the original and amazing Queen choir. A shame that choir destroys some of the songs...

- A minor problem, but the production isn't really good, as on some moments (best example, the instrumental "Chased") it gets really noisy and you can't know what's going on and appreciate what is played by the musicians.

But on this album are a few good (if not very good) songs, on the contrary, I could have given easily 1 star to this disc. The album is divided in two acts: much better Act I than II, IMO. The highlights here are the opener "War For Sale", which is a powerful way to begin the album; "Mystery", which could be a big radio hit because of that tremendously catchy chorus, has a pretty neo-prog feeling on it, and is a damn good poppy song, and fortunately here the choir is well used; "Hope For Us?" is a ballad with a very beautiful chord progression in the middle and an stunning guitar solo, very symphonic and emotional track; "Victims" has an awesome heavy riff, and the whole track is very pleasant to listen to, with great cold keyboard atmospheres, the best song on the album. About the Act II, nothing of it has really captivated me and I find specially "I Believe" (the longest song, 8:41) to be one of the most pretentious songs of all time, and the only good thing I can say about it is there's Labrie guest in vocals, and the second guitar solo on the instrumental intermission is very enjoyable. The other long track, "New World Order" has D.C. Cooper as guest musician providing great vocals, and taking the role on the story (I think) as the bad guy. Unfortunately, that song is ruined by the awful choir, that takes prescence every time...

Overall, an album that you should avoid unless you're a big Prog metal fan and want to dig some more into the genre, but I found this to be a great deception.

Rating: 2.0/5

Report this review (#112779)
Posted Monday, February 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow this thing of making reviews is something difficult specially when we are in front of MASTERPIECES.

Here we go:

1. Stiletto In The Sand: This is a very short, dynamic, in your face opening instrumental, a glimpse of what's coming

2. War For Sale: Continues with the dynamic from the previous track, including a short but agressive guitar solo, then the voice enters: The dramatic Mike Baker. Catchy choruses and superb vocal harmonies. Typical Technical progmetal. Later into this song we have fast guitar harmonies and shredding guitar solo.

3. Out Of Nowhere: Begins with short guitar solo, here the mood is more calm, again Mr. Baker shines, and the catchy choruses really well sung. Layers of keyboards througout, a shredding guitar solo here and there. And nice Keyboard solo. Flute melody towards the end.

4. Mystery: Starts with a tricky riff? Or are the drums what makes the difference? Mystery? Another keyboard lead, wonderful vocal harmonies, carried by nice drums. Nice violin section interrupted by and nice interplay between Keyb/Bass/Guitar/Drums then keyboard has a little soloing over this interplay. Then comes a visceral guitar solo (in the style of those 80's guitar-hero solos, think of Marty Friedman, saving distances, but less evil ;-)) This song ends with a varianza of the tricky riff from the beginning.

5. Hope For Us: Begins with elegance provided by the piano, here the mood is a kind of melancholic, which is confirmed by the beautiful chorus. There is casual acoustic guitar. A beautiful guitar solo. The song ends with piano. Beauty ballad.

6. Victims: Starts gently with strings, this is interrupted by a heavy section (that kind of heaviness which the mighty Bonzo gave to Zep Songs, see what I'm trying to say?) Again the vocal harmonies are superb. The song ends with some variations of the heavy section but with a cool way to "exploit" the riff, Brilliant!

7. Broken: This is a really short and emotive piano driven ballad. Beautiful.

8. I Believe: This begins with wonderful vocal work, violins, and guitar leads that add dramatic quality to the moment. Then the mood is calm by piano and the song flows very well. Later on the song there is a shredding guitar solo, and a flashy guitar/Keyboard harmony which is interrupted by a complex section laying beneath a beauty keyboard lead, then briefly the song becomes straightforward metal. Then comes a joy guitar solo with really nice phrasing.

9. Roads Of Thunder: Begins disordered? Then a nice harmony between Keyb/Guitar is interrupted by a guitar solo acompannied by acoustic guitar. The voice enters beautifully over this ballad mood. Then the mood becomes a little agressive during the chorus. This mood shifting repeats once againg and later the music becomes dark, this is enhanced by spoken samples. The chorus repeats once again and the song ends with the dark mood and a phone ringing.

10. Spoken Words: Begins with sad voice and piano then there is an interplay with female voice the mood remains throughout, sad but beauty. Nice vocal harmonies and Violin section. The song ends with telephone mailbox?

11. New World Order: This one begins with gloomy atmosphere and mocking (maybe ironic?) voice, alterned with worried voice (Mr. Baker you are just amazing!!!) then comes beautiful vocal harmonies while the music becomes tragic, this structure repeats througout. Later the song becomes dramatic and intense enhanced by rapid violins and flashy piano, this is interrupted by a brief fast guitar melody, technical and very beautiful, BRILLIANT. Then the song turns into a situation of "no escape" very well recreated. In fact the song end with someone knocking at one door and saying "Open up we know you're in there..." Fantastic.

12. Chased: This is a dynamic instrumental, a showcase of musical dexterity, pyrotechnic playing. Beautiful keyboard leads. Fast harmonies. Typical Prog-Metal stuff. Towards the end of the song the mood becomes very calmed fading out into the next song.

13. Ghost Of A Chance: Begins very calmed, with hopefully vocals and guitar/keyboard only. Later, bass and drums enters, keeping the mood but adding strength to the song. Then there is a "Rush moment" before the song becomes pure prog-metal. The song ends very calmed, just like the beginning but with breeze sound representing the winter and merging into the next song. A very hopefully song.

14. Christmas Day: Begins with brezze sound and piano then a brief beauty melody played on flute, followed by fast piano arpeggios. Then the voice enters on a hope/melancholy mood, accompanied by elegant piano playing, again beautiful catchy vocal harmonies. Then this is interrupted by angry/sad guitar solo and harmony. Later the piano and voice from the beginning appears again until the end of the song.

Verdict: Ok, we are in front of Dream Theater wannabes? Maybe, but the vocal work found here although cheesy, is Superb. The album is full of details which makes the listening more enjoyable. The singing of Mike Baker is AWESOME, he is very versatile.

Note: For my very personal tastes I dilslike the sound of the drums on this album. Just the sound not the playing which is very good.

Listen to this album without prejudices.


Report this review (#113616)
Posted Monday, February 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A beautiful, absolutely essential album; not just for metal fans.

Tyranny doesn't sound much like metal at all but remains entirely refreshing. Each individual song has its place here and they effectively cover a range of different emotions. This album has epic moments and heartfelt, slower moments, but there isn't a boring moment here at all. The music on Tyranny is not only entertaining in every sense of the word, but it is soothing to the ears, entirely accessible, catchy and somehow remains relatively complex. It's interesting, progressive music with the catchiness and accessibility of pop!

Tyranny is also topped off with an interesting story that isn't too hard to follow and some memorable lyrics.

Report this review (#134495)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tyranny - has no equal in prog metal , an underrated album by many

What we have here is prog metal of the highest calibre, i don't know why so many consider this album a mediocre one. So far, "Tyranny" has to be regarded, as Shadow Gallery's top achievement, and I'm saying this without any intention of dismissing the previous or posterior albums they released - it's just that this concept-album brings the best of the band in terms of songwriting, performing skills and progressive moods in a prog metal vein, and so it comes to be a prog metal masterpiece for the 90s, and for sure one of the best in prog metal. I will not take each song to review but, i will note the best ones: the opening track Stiletto In The Sand, great opener, instant you know that this is not an every day album, War For Sale, Out Of Nowhere , Mystery and New world order. Must add that here is some well known guests as James LaBrie and D.C. Cooper ( ex. Royal Hunt voc, and Silent Force, now on Amaran's Plight). The production is excellent. It's clear and creative. The guitar tones are some of the most original sounding in the genre, and the keyboards are flawless. The bass is a real good. The vocals are definately the mixing highlight. Mike Baker's vocals are dynamic, clear, and enunciated. 5 stars, highly recommended.

Report this review (#140350)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Shadow´s allery thrid release put them in the prog metal´s first league. And rightly so, for this is a major work and is very well done. The first track may give a wrong idea about their sound, though. Stilleto In The Sand is a short instrumental that suggests a prog metal sound in the vein of Dream Theater, but clearly the band has its very own music, like it or not. Mike Baker´s voice for instance is surely not what you expect from a heavy metal outfit he is much a classic rock or prog rock type of singer. The band has many influences and has seemed to drawn the best of them, specially prog rock acts like classic Kansas.

The best thing about them is the fact that although every member is quite skillful and competent (specially guitarrist Gary Wehrkamp), they are more worried in creating a good overall sound instead of using the CD as an excuse for endeless noodling and pointless displays of virtuosity. Shadow Gallery has some very good singwriters and bassist Carl Cadden-James know how to come out with some insightful lyrics. Vocal arrangements are also excellent, with backings done where they should appear, no more no less.. Production could a little bit better nowadays, but I guess that´s the best they could get at the time.

Tyranny is a concept album divided in two acts (the second part being the most pure progressive). It is a bold efford, melodic and very well arranged, with every member contribuiting for the best possible results. It is obvisouly a group work, done with inspiration and conviction. A pleasure to hear from beginning to end. Highlights for me are the keyboards sounds (very old fashioned prog sound of the 70´s), the guitar solos (melodic and fluid) and the vocal lines (original, expressive and totally in league with the elaborated instrumental parts). Metalheads will probably complain that Tyranny is obviously more prog than metal, but that´s really a compliment for me. 4,5 stars. Highly recommended!

Report this review (#145930)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is a concept album that is unique, in that it is... "To be continued". And it takes another 7 years before the subject of this story is picked back up on "Room V". These two albums are coincedently my 2 favourite SHADOW GALLERY records. Some guests on this one including James LaBrie from DREAM THEATER and DC Cooper from numerous bands including ROYAL HUNT, both guys contribute on vocals of course. By the way the production is flawless.

"Act 1" begins with "Stiletto In The Sand" a heavy duty introduction to our story, with pounding drums and bass as guitar and synths add to the sound. They have my attention. "War For Sale" features more of the same with some blistering guitar. Vocals are heard for the first time in this heavy soundscape. The synth work 4 minutes in is good and is followed by some ripping guitar. "Out Of Nowhere" is a mid paced tune with some heaviness that comes and goes. Check out the guitar before 3 minutes. I like the vocals too. Excellent song. "Mystery" has a good rhythm in the intro that comes and goes throughout. It becomes uptempo with more great vocals. A blazing guitar solo after 4 minutes is followed by some good drumming. "Hope For Us ?" is ballad-like with piano and vocal harmonies. It's ok. "Victims" is more to my liking. It opens with piano and synths that are replaced by a heavy sound with vocals. A great melody of scorching guitar and piano follows. The song ends with a drum, guitar and bass melody that is even better. "Broken" is mellow with piano, synths and vocals.

"Act II" opens with "I Believe" and the intro is quite dramatic with vocal melodies. It calms down 1 1/2 minutes in with piano. A nice heavy sound 3 minutes in with passionate vocals to follow. A QUEEN-like section after 4 1/2 minutes as both the guitar and harmonies bring that band to mind. The guitar to follow is outstanding. "Roads Of Thunder" has an awesome intro with some great bass and blistering guitar before the vocals arrive. "Spoken Words" is mellow with guest female vocals from Laura Jaeger who would return on "Room V". "New World Order" opens with the feeling that something evil is present. Nice affect. Theatrical vocals come in. Some excellent drum and synth work 5 1/2 minutes in. The final 2 minutes are so well done. "Chased" is uptempo with pounding drums with synths before some blistering guitar joins in. "Ghost Of A Chance" is another ballad-like tune to begin with. It builds to a full sound 3 1/2 minutes in. "Christmas Day" isn't that far off is it. This one is fairly mellow until the ear splitting guitar solo comes in. Nice. It calms right back down though.

I'm not big on all of the mellow tracks but there's enough here for a low 4 stars. You can really hear where "Room V" was born out of when you listen to this one. I feel they have improved upon this one in several ways with "Room V", but I can recommend both of these records as top notch Prog-Metal.

Report this review (#155800)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Now this is when the band really starts to shine ! It's already becoming evident with the first song that Tyranny is a total different ball game than the two predecessors. What a dynamic and energetic start of an album ! Followed by War for Sale, another energetic and up tempo cracker. This is the Shadow Gallery I fell in love with, really living up to my taste totally. Third track is my very favourite of this strong album. Out of Nowhere is one of the best below 5 minute songs I know (along with Another Day by DT and Stay Down by Royal Hunt). Terrific composition scoring in all departments, vocals as well as instrumentals and of course compositionwise, melody and energy. Mystery is also great, almost as good as Out of Nowhere, goodness me what a start of an album. But if I recall well (I don't play this album that often anymore) we have had the stronger part by now (Act 1 is far better than Act 2 in my opinion). Hope for Us? is more balld like, gorgeous song and this is good for the balance of a mature album like this. Victims is the lesser song of Act 1 to me, still good and a short ballad like finale to round it off. Act 1 is altogether worthy of 4,5 stars to me.

Act 2 starts with half an epic, Believe, and it strikes me that this is already somewhat less than most of Act 1, it's a good song but it's mainly the energetic aspect that is falling short here, a nice instrumental part after some 6 minutes is the highlight here. Roads of Thunder is one of those wonderful vocal tracks by SG, a very wise decision to use your strong point really often. Shadow Gallery is one of the few prog bands I know with stand out vocals. Spoken Words is a ballad that could easily have been on Room V where the quality and style is concerned, probably also caused by the contribution of Laura Jaeger. These ballads are a caress for the ear. New World Order is the second epical track, a grave somewhat slow song without a great highlight. After so much vocal dominance high time for an instrumental and there we are: Chased is a speedy piece keeping up the attention for the album. Because although it's high quality stuff, it's almost 5 quarters of an hour of music so that's pretty long and it's a real challenge to keep the thing interesting. I think Shadow Gallery succeeded really well here. Ghost of a chance is another quiet one before Christmas Day closes the album in fine style.

Like I said, Act 2 is not as great as no 1 so I think it deserves some 3,5-3,75 stars altogether. Leaving the whole album with an average of a good 4 stars. Great achievement by Shadow Gallery with this first truly mature album.

Report this review (#158877)
Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the first part in the two-album concept, linking Tyranny to the slightly stronger Room V.

On the whole, this album is a pretty average progressive metal album. The guitar solos are all really fast, the drums pound away like they're supposed to, a keyboardist lends his Dream Theater-esque noodling to a lot of the instrumental sections, and the bass is pretty hard to find. The only thing that separates a band like Shadow Gallery from one of their peer metal groups is their lead singer, who has a much more timeless (read: less hair metal sort) voice, though his singing does often become reminiscent of Alice Cooper. However, in all, his voice is not as strong as it needs to be to tie together the music on this album. The lyrics deal with, well, tyranny and oppressive government or something. And while the energy levels are high throughout this release, the actual creativity and uniqueness of the band does not really show up very well in Tyranny.

The album opens with a traditional Shadow Gallery instrumental, Stiletto in the Sand. By traditional, I am implying that it's fast-paced, exciting, technically difficult, and mostly aimless. War for Sale is a nice opening song, with a good chorus but a weak instrumental midsection. I Believe has some interesting singing and some cheesy lyrics, with a brief cameo by Dream Theater's James LaBrie for a few lines. Overall, it's one of the stronger tracks on this release. Coming on the tails of that is Roads of Thunder, a sometimes blistering metal piece with some fast guitars and one of their stronger guitar solos. New World Order is a nice and creepy sort of Big Brother tune, with some cool condescension from the oppressive leadership. This segues into Chased, the best instrumental on the album. It is built mostly on the guitar, with a lot of shredding and arpeggios that somehow doesn't sound like Yngwie Malmsteen but like something melodic and high energy. The last two songs wrap up the album, then, in acceptable fashion.

Not a bad release, really, just unremarkable. Fans of melodic progressive metal should enjoy Shadow Gallery, though I'd recommend starting with Room V instead. Fans of lighter stuff might find enjoyable music here, though it is less likely.

Report this review (#184493)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Stiletto in the sand...

Shadow Gallery's attempt at a concept album, and my oh my do they succeed! This has become one of my favorite albums, over time. It is highly melodic, yet highly technical and downright furious at times (like the opener, Stiletto in the sand). And the melodic parts seem almost unreal as to be called prog. They are so catchy it should almost be illegal! But, interspersed within this catchy maelstrom of heavy rock, there is also a biting amount of passionate technical performing. The instrumentals are refreshing,a nd the vocals...Baker is a vocal genius. Each song feels like a gold mine of progressive metal.

On to the story/lyrics. The concept is original, and the lyrics are strong. Stiletto in the sand, thrust down in anger... In reference to weapons of mass destruction... I helped to design them This is somewhat like the story to Pain of Salvation's One hour by the concrete lake only presented in a more convincing way (in my opinion).

This is an essential progressive metal album, with an original and well thought out concept. 5 stars!

Report this review (#208764)
Posted Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Tyranny" is one of the most complete and fulfilling prog metal albums I've heard in a long time and was probably my favourite of the 90s until Dream Theater's "Metropolis Pt. 2..." came along the year after.

In fact, there are many similarities between "Tyranny" and "Metropolis Pt.2..." beyond James LaBrie's vocals on "I Believe": e.g. both are arranged in 2 "Acts", both have "story-telling" lyrics (though the subject matter is quite different). However, that is not to say that the albums are alike musically. In fact, they are quite unique and different and both are solid masterpieces that establish the basline for prog metal for years to come.

On "Tyranny", the standouts pieces are "Out of Nowhere", "Roads of Thunder" and "New World Order" (with DC Cooper guesting on vocals) with "Hope For Us?" topping the list of the numerous "ballads". A special mention to the soft and haunting closer "Christmas Day".

Report this review (#372465)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars I believe

While not as wide-ranging and varied as the masterpiece that was Carved In Stone, Tyranny is indeed another great Shadow Gallery album. They seem to have matured a bit, but this maturity is something of a double-edged sword in this case. On the one-hand the end product is very professional and polished, but on the other hand they have also streamlined their sound somewhat and evened out some of the dramatic twists and turns that made Carved In Stone such an exhilarating musical journey. Don't get me wrong though, Tyranny is a very solid album. The material is powerful and melodic.

The album is conceptual and split into two "acts". The first act is the best one and runs very smoothly. The lead vocals again remind of Geoff Tate of Queensryche but the musical influences are more towards Queen, Kansas and Dream Theater (especially Images And Words). The harmony vocals are gorgeous and blend very well with the riffs and solos. James LaBrie from Dream Theater makes a brief guest appearance towards the end of the album and there are some other guests as well including some female vocals that were a bit misplaced for me. Overall, I think that the album loses steam towards the end and it could have been shortened somewhat for a stronger impact. Still, this is a highly enjoyable album.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#579644)
Posted Friday, December 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Shadow Gallery's first concept album presents a near future techno-thriller plot and a musical style that is best described as a mingling of the complexity and virtuosity of Dream Theater with the ballsy grit of classic Queensryche. It's an entertaining listen which will please most fans of those giants of prog metal but doesn't really expand the bounds of the genre much; on top of that, it begins to lose steam towards the end, with songs such as Spoken Words and New World Order getting downright repetitive and in dire need of a bit of editing. Still, if you want a cheesy conspiracy thriller concept album I'm sure there are worse choices.
Report this review (#634530)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars This is my first taste of Shadow Gallery's highly rated discography. Tyranny fits right in alongside the prog- metal stylings of the late '90's era; however, it does not strike me being anywhere near as close to the masterpiece it's currently scored at. It's not bad, in fact, the album's vibe, instrumental performances, and varied songs are artistically executed. The songwriting is highly competent and involved, but the result doesn't strike me as strongly as many other prog-metal groups out there. It's good, but not great or even that memorable.

Overall the band plays well. They're very tight and the production is crisp. Soloing is fair, regrettably not standing out among the various interweaving riffing and synthesizer textures. For a band that plays as fast and with as much complexity as Shadow Gallery, there aren't moments that make your hair stand up with excitement. This is probably my biggest issue with the album; the songs aren't memorable, and the instrumentalists rarely grab my attention, even though I can tell they're talented. Maybe this is a failing of the songwriting? Compare this to Metropolis II: Scenes From a Memory, which was released only a year later, and Tyranny's complexity and moments of frenzied riffing seem even more underwhelming. Again, they aren't bad, just sort of bland.

Let's talk for a minute about vocals. Baker gets credited as lead vocalist, and he's passable at best. His high-pitched vocals are typical of the era, in fact, they even have a strong '80's feel. His range is poor, phrasing tedious, but inflection strong and there's actually some emotion behind his singing. I don't care for his voice, but that's totally subjective; he's not for me. What's definitely not for me is this album's awful lyrics. Yes, I said awful. They're overly direct, unevocative, without rhyme, devoid of memorable choruses, trite, and pretentious. And there's so, so many of them. There's simply way too much singing on this album, and because all of the lead duties are handled by Baker... that's a problem. Some reviewers have commented about how Tyranny is thematically similar to Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime, which is totally understandable. The themes about technology and the internet feel very anachronistic and campy at this point, which is fine; what do not, are the songs about the second coming of Christ. Those lyrics just fall flat, but then again I'm bias in that regard. Again, not enough here to make me want to listen again.

One thing that Tyranny does have going for it is its variety. The first half is mostly fast-paced rocking that may appeal to more straight-ahead metal fans. Throughout we're given transitional songs that play like lush power ballads, pulling at the narrative's emotional heartstrings. The second half experiments more, with songs like "New World Order" and the exciting instrumental "Chased" standing out as highlights. In the end though I suffered from fatigue after the album's bloated 73 minute running time.

I didn't hate Tyranny, not by a long shot, I just didn't care about what it was accomplishing. To me, that says that it's one for prog-metal diehards or fans of the group (probably one and the same).

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 1 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#1559433)
Posted Friday, May 6, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Concept albums.

The very words can send shivers down your spine. The most hardened of prog fanatics will shudder at the thought of another rock opera and the potential pretentious self-indulgence that awaits them.

Fear not, however, for this is Shadow Gallery, one of the finest progressive metal bands out there, and you can rest assured that this will be an engaging, story-driven affair full of excellent performances by all involved. It might seem a bit cheesy at times, but then, what concept album doesn't?

At 73 minutes in length, 'Tyranny' can feel a little long-winded at times, but the music is so damn good that sometimes it's worth the sacrifice. Telling the story of a man who discovers a plot involving his government selling weapons to the middle east, it's an interesting narrative that doesn't get too boring despite the albums duration. The playing is superb and incredibly tight, and Mike Baker's vocals are full of emotion and sincerity, easily one of the most versatile and talented singers I've ever heard.

There's one or two brief instances where the album does tend to lull momentarily, but otherwise this is a solid release with some exceptional tracks. 'War for Sale', 'Roads of Thunder', 'Hope for Us?' and 'Spoken Words' are all amazingly well-written pieces, and then there's 'Mystery', which, in my opinion, isn't just one of Shadow Gallery's best songs, but one of the genres, too.

Well-received by fans and critics alike, Shadow Gallery's 'Tyranny' is a true gem that belongs in the collection of every prog metal fan.

Report this review (#1782374)
Posted Friday, September 15, 2017 | Review Permalink

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