A Symphony of Shadows
After a successful start with Psychotic Waltz, and more recently the band Deadsoul Tribe, Devon Graves has come back for thirds in one heck of a way. The Shadow Theory consists of not only Graves but also Arne Schuppner (Complex 7), Johanne James (Threshold, Kyrbgrinder), Demi Scott, and most notably, ex-Pain of Salvation bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw. This cast can definitely be deemed an all-star cast, mostly made up of progressive metal artists, and it shows in every way.
Not only is Devon Graves a great singer, but he plays flute exceptionally well. Flute playing in metal was definitely one thing that intrigued me while listening to the album. Beforehand I assumed that it would sound too different, almost not right, but there is nothing wrong with it on “Behind the Black Veil”. Right from the beginning the flute stands out on the opening track, ‘I Open My Eyes’, where the great guitar counter melodies bring it out perfectly. The songs are mostly simple progressive-power metal compositions, except for a few like ‘A Symphony of Shadows’ and the opener. The feel of the album varies from heavier, creepier music to softer more soothing melodies. Also there are a lot of distinct differences in the songs, unlike most of Graves’s Psychotic Waltz stuff. ‘Sleepwalking’ is a great example of this because it sounds very much like a Pain of Salvation song, probably because of Kristoffer Gildenlöw. With softer vocal sections mixed with some heavy bass influence, it almost feels like it came of an early Pain of Salvation album.
The vocals by Devon Graves, or Buddy Lackey, whichever you prefer, are exceptionally good. He has mastered many different styles and all that adds a lot to the album. Ranging from the Jethro Tull sounding ‘Selebrate’ to 'A Candle in the Gallery' which sounds very much like King Diamond, this becomes quite self evident. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the drumming of Johanne James, which is very good and heavy, yet very articulate.
The production is very good, packing a heavy sound that enhances every bit of the album. Everything sounds perfect, and I especially like the way the bass and keyboards are put into the mix.
If you don’t already have this masterpiece from 2010, then you should definitely pick it up. Any fan of Pain of Salvation, King Diamond, and of course Psychotic Waltz will really enjoy this great piece of music. The heavy atmosphere conveyed throughout the album leads to a great feel that keeps me interested every time I listen. For a great release the Shadow Theory gets 4 stars.