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Shadow Gallery - Tyranny CD (album) cover


Shadow Gallery


Progressive Metal

4.03 | 312 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
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

Prog Leviathan | 2/5 |


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