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3.26 | 17 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1992


1. The Dance Of Fools (7:34)
2. Darktown (9:12)
3. Mystified (7:09)
4. Questions At Hand (6:54)
5. The Final Hour (5:06)
6. Say Goodbye To The Morning (6:50)
7. The Queen Of The City Of Ice (17:11)

Total Time 60:00


- Brendt Allman / guitars, vocals
- Mike Baker / vocals
- Carl Cadden-James / bass, vocals, flute
- Chris Ingles / piano, keyboards

- Ben Timely / drums, percussion
- John Cooney / percussion
- Lianne Himmelwright / backing vocals

About this release

Release date: April 1, 1992
Label: Magna Carta

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It's the early years of progressive metal, Fates Warning and Queensryche have been going from strength to strength over the years and Dream Theater have released their debut album, but are yet to unleash its follow-up 'Images and Words' upon the world, which would pretty much lay out the blueprint for every prog metal album to follow. So with that, Shadow Gallery's self-titled debut release came at a time when the genre was still establishing itself.

All the enduring qualities of the genre are here in their infancy, and they work well. Lengthy songs with complex structures and vast musical passages, Mike Baker's incredible vocals, which add so much depth and credibility to the band, their trademark vocal harmonies (which would be expanded upon and perfected on later releases) and some of the finest musicianship around. It's no wonder they would go on to become one of prog metals most beloved cult bands.

In fact, the biggest detriment is the "epic" of the album, 'The Queen of the City of Ice'. Perhaps the metal world just wasn't quite ready for these 20-minute odyssey's just yet, or perhaps it was a trait best left to the old-school Yes's and Genesis's of the music world, but either way, this song is BORING!!! It's slow, uninteresting, and features a spoken dialogue section which goes on for way too long. It's a massive blow to what would be an otherwise stellar debut, as 'Darktown', 'Mystified', 'Say Goodbye to the Morning', 'Questions at Hand' and 'The Dance of Fools', in fact, all the songs on this album are early classics that really makes this a solid release, but it's all hindered by that 17-minute track that completely brings everything to a standstill.

Still, don't be deterred by that, as otherwise this is a great album that helped lay the foundations for progressive metal by firmly distinguishing all the early traits the genre would adhere to.
siLLy puPPy
Although they merely started out as a cover band called Sorcerer in the 80s covering Yngwie Malmsteen and Rush songs, this Allentown, PA band found a little lovin’ for their favorite graphic novel “V For Vendetta” and changed their name to SHADOW GALLERY. While the early days of progressive rock was a European phenomenon, progressive metal was wholeheartedly an American sensation and SHADOW GALLERY was one of the earliest bands to open those doors in the early 90s along with contemporaries like Dream Theater and Symphony X following in the footsteps of the proto-progressive metal bands of the 80s such as Queensryche and Crimson Glory. It didn’t take long after writing their own tracks that they would be one of the earliest acts to sign on to the Magna Carta Records which displayed virtuoso and neoclassical oriented metal bands although SHADOW GALLERY never achieved the success that many of their contemporaries would.

At this stage on their eponymous debut SHADOW GALLERY was more of a mix of symphonic progressive rock that happened to include some 80s power metal that sometimes fused together but most often did not. Although the metal would become the dominating force on subsequent albums, on this debut there are large tracts of playing time that sound much more like symphonic prog than metal. In fact the leading track “The Dance Of Fools” sounds more like a neo-prog track that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Arena or IQ album. There also segments of interactive flute action which like Psychotic Waltz of the same era was quite rare in the metal universe. Add to that the often sugary sweet melodic developments and the Queen inspired harmonic singalong vocal style and it’s easy to forget that this is indeed a metal band however when the metal aspects are taken off their leashes then there is no mistaken that this indeed is an 80s neoclassicallly inspired speed metal band that has more than mastered all the chops to earn that title. Even within the very first neo-proggy track Brendt Allman stuns us with his lightning blitzkrieg of neoclassical guitar runs as the track fades out.

“Darktown” takes over and introduces the more familiar sound of the majority of the album. That being melodic catchy tunes that alternate between sweet ballad parts then followed by more rarer hard rockin’ segments that display quickened keyboard runs, high register vocals and lead guitar workouts. The tracks are also of considerable length where after the verses and choruses play out there are lengthy instrumental wankery sessions that are of the same type of extended play as heard on Dream Theater and Symphony X albums of the same era. The band play together quite well and the trading off of the different ideas flow together very well as the band never once misses a beat in keeping the tracks interesting. While the album is a great mix of prog rock and 80s metal, the true progressive behemoth comes toward the end as “The Queen Of The City Of Ice” starts off with light fluffy guitar arpeggios accompanied by sweet synths and a lulling flute with narrative harmonic vocals telling the tale of a fantasy land that soars on for 17 minutes and 11 seconds. Surprisingly the clean guitar arpeggios and symphonic accoutrements carry on close to the nine minute mark before they erupt into the more energetic side of the track and even thereafter never really erupts into really heavy territory save the guitar shredding under the symphonic scaffolding. There is also a lengthy spoken narration in the middle.

While SHADOW GALLERY certainly had their musician hats on and had more than developed their techniques to stun the listener, at this point there are a few things i find a little unsettling about this debut album. First of all, the opening track “The Dance Of Fools” sounds totally out of sync with the rest of the album. Although it’s a decent track, its style makes a very bad first impression and as mentioned already, sounds more like it would be fitting on a neo-prog album with Allman doing a guest shredover. Secondly, “Mystified” sounds too much like “The Mission” on Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime.” While a decent track it fails to sound original in any way and Mike Baker even sounds like a convincing Geoff Tate clone. The production is also lackluster as Magna Carta was founded by Mike Varney who was notorious on his Shrapnel Records label for hosting some of the best guitarists of the days but equally making them suffer some of the worst production heard in the music industry and SHADOW GALLERY likewise is diminished by the same tinny and muffled dynamics that could have added a lot to the final product. Given all these quirks that this debut dishes out, i’m still quite fond of it although they would improve greatly in every way on their second release “Carved In Stone.” With better album arrangement, a nip and tuck in the editing department and a stellar production job, this could have been an outstanding album back in the day but for what it is, i still find the music satisfactory enough to bring me back for repeated listening pleasure.
A Promising Debut

The self-titled debut from Shadow Gallery is a bit of a mixed bag. Although I find it to be a very enjoyable release, a few problems really diminish most of my experience. It's really a shame that this album has quite a few issues in terms of production and consistency, because there are some really mind-blowing parts on Shadow Gallery.

Shadow Gallery plays a soft progressive metal sound on this album. There is a strong neo-prog influence, especially in the keyboard tones. Power metal is also a big influence on this debut, though you won't hear the heavier side of the genre. Shadow Gallery leans much closer towards progressive rock than progressive metal, despite a few metal riffs here and there. This sounds a bit like When Dream And Day Unite-era Dream Theater, although this album is slightly softer. I personally love their charming neo-prog flavored power metal sound, but I'm sure some people could accuse this album to be a bit cheesy with the vocals and keyboard tones. I enjoy eating cheddar cheese, and in this case I enjoy listening to it as well!

This album consists of 7 songs, which lasts for almost an hour. The songs are on the longer side, ranging from 5 minutes to 17 minutes, with most songs residing around the 7 minute mark. Some of the songs (especially the epic The Queen of the City of Ice) could have been trimmed a little bit since there are some uninteresting parts. There are no throwaways on this album, which is of course a good thing. All of the songs have something great and unique about them. My favorite song is (by far) the opening track The Dance of Fools. That is a 5 star song for sure! Mystified and Say Goodbye to the Morning are the next best songs in my opinion. As mentioned earlier, none of the songs are weak. The Queen of the City of Ice is a bit of disappointment, although it has some worthwhile moments.

Even though I keep giving this album compliments, one key issue makes this album far below its potential. The production is terrible, even for this era. The bass is inaudible, there is far too much treble, the vocals are overproduced, and the drums sound very irritating. It's a shame because the album is really great otherwise.

The musicians are really fun to listen to. Mike Baker's vocals are really fantastic, and it's such a shame that he died in 2008 of a heart attack. He was a very skilled singer. Brendt Allman is a great guitarist, and his melodic playing style fits the music well. He is one of the few people who can deliver an emotional guitar solo, while still showing that you know how to really shred! I can't hear the bass from Carl Cadden-James, so I can't even really comment on him. He plays flute occasionally on this album, which adds some nice variation. The keyboards from Chris Ingles could be criticized for being a bit cheesy, but I personally love his synth tones and melodic playing style. The drums are a bit of a problem. They simply don't do very much, and are far too simple for this type of music.


Shadow Gallery is a solid and promising debut, despite a few issues. If the production were better, I would give a higher score, but for now this is a 3 star album. If you're into soft and melodic progressive metal, this album is for you. This is an underappreciated gem from the early 90's, and one of the better debut albums in the young progressive metal genre.

3 stars.

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