After the albums "Shadow Gallery", "Carved in stone" and "Tyranny" Shadow Gallery has published their forth album (in nine years time) entitled "Legacy". And I must tell you that this is the only thing I know about the band. I remember the times I listened/scanned their previous albums in the local record shop. Always I liked some parts of it and other parts I didn't. I truly admit to you that I never bought an album of this band because for me there was something missing and it sounded too much American for me. So the irony is that I have now the opportunity and the obligation to our readers to listen carefully to the whole record. Not once but several times.
The band exists out of the following members:
Brandt Allman - Guitar, Acoustic guitar, Vocals and a keyboard part on "Society of the mind"; Mike Baker - Lead and backing vocals; Carl Cadden-James - Bass, Vocals, Flute; Chris Ingles - Keyboards; Joe Nevolo - Drums; Gary Wehrkamp - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals, Bass, Sound effects.
The first track is called "Cliffhanger 2" (13:05) which is divided into two parts, "Hang on" and "The crusher". Episode one of this track you could find on their second album "Carved in stone". All the elements that make Shadow Gallery different from a lot of other bands we can find here. A heavy complex sound with the combination of very songmatic vocal refrains. The second part "The crusher" is very complex and heavy and even Dream Theater fans will like this track. "Destination unknown" (7:01) slows down the pace and opens with a nice piano and it develops into a nice ballad with great symphonic keyboards. Besides heavy guitar riffs and the SG vocals, there are also nice guitar and keyboard solos. The ending of the track is very nice with piano and acoustic guitar. The next track is called "Colors" (7:02) and it is also a ballad with a lot of vocals. There are beautiful melodies in this track but it is not my cup of tea. And I understand that it are the vocals I don't like. Don't get me wrong; the vocals are well done and almost perfect. But that is just the point; it is too sweet and perfect for me. It is difficult to explain. I think people will adore Shadow Gallery or don't like them because of the vocals. "Society of the mind" (5:23) is again the heavy side of Shadow Gallery. There is a nice keyboard solo but also the sweet vocals. The title track "Legacy" (5:04) has an easy to remember vocal refrain and could be a single. But I like the complex and instrumental parts best with great drumming and guitar work embedded in symphonic keyboard layers.
But the track of the album is the long suite called "First light" (34:18). It opens with a mysterious keyboard intro and when the guitars are appearing the piece has a kind of Pink Floyd atmosphere. There is a lot of diversity in this track. And I must admit that Mike Baker is doing a great job and sings very well. I like those long pieces because there is time to put all kinds of atmospheres into it. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and the melodies are great. The keyboard sounds are very beautiful and symphonic. After 13 minutes the tempo is changing and the music gets heavier with high-speed guitar and keyboard solos. When the piece clocks 20 minutes the acoustic guitar is back. And the music slowly fades away and at 22 minutes it is complete silence. Only if you listen to it on headphones there are appearing party voices behind a closed door after three minutes. After seven almost silent minutes the track is closed with a symphonic keyboard piece. So the suite is in fact not 34 minutes but 27 minutes long. Maybe there is a deeper reason for this, which I don't understand but I don't like this trick to get a CD of more then 70 minutes. It is not original anymore and if I record all those pieces of silence I have found in my prog collection of the last years, I could make my own album of 70 minutes of complete silence! This is not a personal complaint to Shadow Gallery but someone has to say this once: it is not original and very irritating!!!
For me the best tracks are "Cliffhanger 2", "Destination unknown" and "First light". And I like the atmospheres created with the keyboards a lot. But I have a problem with the vocals. But this is just a personal taste. The real Shadow Gallery fans will have bought this album months ago and probably they will say it is the best album of the band. But if you don't know the band please first listen to it before you buy it.