Nima : With their magnificent debut, ‘Corruption Within’ (2000) the British ShadowKeep immediately became one of my favourite progressive power metal acts. Although the music was rather heavily influences by Queensrÿche and the band didn’t show an own identity, they did possess the same skills as their heroes and made a strong impression. On their second LP ’A Chaos Theory’ the band did show a more self-identity and on (the equally strong) ’The Hourglass Effect’ they seemed to have found their indefinite sound.
It took them ten (!) years to deliver a new album, but at the end of the month the self-titled fourth LP will finally be a fact. Nowadays the vocal duties lie with none other than the legendary James Rivera (known from a.o. Helstar, Malice, Vicious Rumors, Destiny’s End and countless other bands). Rivera is a quite different singer than his predecessors and his voice is more fit for straightforward (US) heavy/power metal. And that is indeed the musical path the band has taken on ‘ShadowKeep’. Even though the prog-tunes are still present, the band takes a sturdier and a more straightforward approach in general and reminds more of Rivera’s ex-employees Malice, Destiny’s End, and Vicious Rumors’ ‘Warball’, but also a band such as Liege Lord. Thanks to the progressive influences the name Jag Panzer also often comes to mind. And well, you definitely won’t hear me complain on that regard.
‘ShadowKeep’ in general is a typical US power metal record that has everything that this genre is known for. Sturdy, powerful and catchy riffs that go hand in hand with the necessary traditional (NWOBHM) melodies and of course a technical approach. Fortunately the technical and the progressive aspects don’t damage the overall spontaneity, intensity and power, and whether we’re dealing with slower or faster pieces the songs keep pounding forth. The only songs they could have left out as far as I’m concerned are the acoustic ballads ‘Little Lion’ and ‘Never Forgotten’; two rather boring pieces that suck the power and the flow out of the record. The same goes for the insignificant intro ‘Atlantis’, although this one is acceptable as an intro. As for the rest the album fortunately only contains strong pieces, with the sturdy up-tempo pounders ‘Guardians Of The Sea’, ‘Angels And Omens’ and ‘The Sword Of Damocles’ as a few highlights. Fortunately the album has gotten the exact right sound and therefore it all comes into its own really well. Finally the beautiful, delightfully old-fashioned-looking and typical power metal cover artwork completes the picture. All put together make ‘ShadowKeep’ a solid album of its kind and a solid comeback for ShadowKeep. Welcome back!