Four years ago, Shadow Gallery put out an amazing concept album called "Tyranny". Despite the fact that many people have never heard about this progressive metal band, the group received critical acclaim from many in the music scene and a few reviewers called "Tyranny" the best progressive metal album of the 1990's. In fact, such well known names like James LaBrie of Dream Theater even sang on "Tyranny". Don't think this is a Dream Theater sound alike though. Shadow Gallery has their own sound, and it's better than Dream Theater in my opinion.
Well, "Legacy" is finally here and despite being very different from "Tyranny", it is equally breathtaking! If you are into progressive metal at all, then your collection is incomplete without this disc. The musicianship by this band is top notch to say the least. Especially the guitar playing, which often leaves my chin on the floor as Gary Wehrkamp and Brendt Allman go from some of the most beautiful playing you've ever heard to blistering guitar solos that make you wanna stand up and cheer.
The album opens with "Cliffhanger 2", the sequel to the original off their "Carved in Stone" album. This song is 13 minutes, but is divided into two sections, "Hang On", and "The Crusher". The last seven minutes ("The Crusher") is nothing but a blazing instrumental jam. Lyrically it seems to deal with temptation and the guy in the story is hanging from a cliff and "...turns just in time to see the avalanche start. A freight train right at my head". Great analogy! "Destination Unknown" and "Colours" follow and have some more mellow moments but still score very high. "Destination" starts out very mellow in fact, but gets crazy during the instrumental ending. "Colours" sounds the most "commercial" of all the songs, but has an extremely catchy chorus that will have you singing it for days. Things get pumping again for "Society of the Mind" and "Legacy" which rock much harder. Both songs have terrific lyrical content. "Society of the Mind" states, "School today/a sea of seething rage/and on the menu in the lunchroom we got Ritalin and Prozac/so I can concentrate/ on my next level of Quake/where I can shoot them I can kill them/and dehumanize with cancer in my veins". They also reference the internet asking the question, "Are we the air this beast needs to breath?" Sure to ruffle a few feathers. "Legacy" does a good job questioning the legacy you are leaving behind in life asking us, "Will you bend?/when the hammer falls/are you steel?/inquisitions search you out." They also encourage the listener to "wear the armor of righteousness each day/then forever in glory we'll remain."
The final track "First Light" clocks in at over 34 minutes! This epic masterpiece is truly one of the greatest songs in progressive metal history and is easily my favorite song of all time! From ambient noise, to gorgeous acoustic guitar, to heavy riffing, to scorching solos, to Mike Baker's awe-inspiring vocals, this song will leave you begging for more. Not a boring spot in the song! The lyrics tell of a spiritual journey into space in search of meaning in life, which ultimately leads to God. Terrific storyline! The song seems to end at about the 23 minute mark where silence sets in. However, if you crank the sound all the way you can hear conversation in the background, some of which seems to lend some insight into the confusing ending which results in some knocking on a door (ala one of their previous songs) and some calming music that rounds out the song.
If you like quality metal, this is a no-brainer. With killer music, creative/outspoken lyrics, professional artwork, and pristine production, this is a band that SHOULD be huge. (Review by Matt)