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  Cosmic Hug


Shadow Gallery
Tyranny
Catalog #: MA-9016-2

Price: $14.98

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Tyranny
AUDIO CLIPS

01 – Stiletto in the Sand
(mp3 or realaudio)

02 – War For Sale
(mp3 or realaudio)

03 – Out of Nowhere
(mp3 or realaudio)

04 – Mystery
(mp3 or realaudio)

05 – Hope For Us?
(mp3 or realaudio)

06 – Victims
(mp3 or realaudio)

07 – Broken
(mp3 or realaudio)

08 – I Believe
(mp3 or realaudio)

09 – Roads of Thunder
(mp3 or realaudio)

10 – Spoken Words
(mp3 or realaudio)

11 – New World Order
(mp3 or realaudio)

12 – Chased
(mp3 or realaudio)

13 – Ghost of a Chance
(mp3 or realaudio)

14 – Christmas Day
(mp3 or realaudio)
  dividing line   Shadow Gallery
Tyranny
Magna Carta Records MA-9016
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Tyranny (released September 22, 1998)


Every once in a while an artist manages to tie together the wealth of human experience and emotion, delivering a package that contains layers and layers of truths, suppositions, and flights of fancy that leave the viewer struck at future possibilities, dumbfounded by the intricacies of this world he thought he knew so well.

With Tyranny, Shadow Gallery have proven themselves to be this rare form of creator. Only four records (but eleven years!) deep into an elegant progressive metal career, this Pennsylvania six-piece has meticulously assembled a complex, inspiringly metallic, art rock classic, a record that is as thematically rich as any recorded rock work; while musically immediate, electric, punchy and majestic.

Enveloping a whirlwind one-year cycle of military intelligence and technology, secret society conspiracy theories, internet hacking, raw greed, apocalyptic prediction, familial death and, finally, an open-ended cry for human affection, Tyranny could, and one day might be, a truly cinematic experience. Main lyricist Carl Cadden-James distills the tale to its essence: "There are two core concepts behind this record – the first one would be the struggle of an individual to find inner peace in a hard world. The other would be the very strong message of the eternal oppression and manipulation of the poor by the rich. That's what's at the core. But all told, it's a classic tale of good versus evil. And for those people that want to take the time, I think there's a whole lot more underneath this thing."

Throughout the cycle, songs are subtitled with the months of the year, our main character beginning as a top-flight military specialist who is devolved and revolved into a personal journey that echoes James Joyce's Ulysses or Homer's Odyssey.

In terms of sonics, the trip is just as thrilling. Instrumentals like 'Stiletto In The Sand' and 'The Chase' capture their respective moods in crystalline fashion, the former opening the record with the majestic chest-thumping of war, the latter being one of the most dizzying acrobatic displays of prog picture-painting cut to wax. Vocal tracks like 'War For Sale' build on a song-based prog ethic, twisting and turning energetically, advancing in a fashion similar to Savatage or Iced Earth, while interludes and breaks swing from such wildly divergent influences as Yngwie Malmsteen, Marillion and Kansas. 'Hope For Us' takes the band into lush, melodic terrain, allowing the band to indulge themselves in gorgeous piano hooks, assembling an electric ballad that touches upon Queen, old Floyd, and once more, modern-day Savatage; harmonies afire on layer upon layer of majestic sound, heartfelt lyrics that drive deep into the heart of man.

Carl compares the "Tyranny" experience with Shadow Gallery's past works, after intimating that there is enough 'stuff' deep within the grooves to constitute calling this a classic 'headphones' album. "Musically, this record is more intense. I think musicianship-wise it's more ferocious and I think the pretty stuff is a little prettier, and the fact that it's a concept album kind of sets it apart. I don't know, personally Queen is one of my favorite bands so I hear a lot of Queen influence. Gary is a Pink Floyd head. Brendt and Chris, their tastes vary from Tori Amos to Metallica to Dixie Dregs. Anybody that's good, you know? I just see us as a '90s extension of the '70s progressive rock, '70s heavy metal kind of thing, a line from the likes of Kansas, Styx, Genesis, even Iron Maiden given that, growing up, I was a real connoisseur of metal."

Vocally, a couple of treats are in store for the student of progressive metal circles. Carl reveals that "James LaBrie from the band Dream Theater plays the main character's father on the track 'I Believe'. He sings the part where the father is on his death bed. I'm an audio engineer, and at one point I had the opportunity to ask him if he would mind singing on our album. And he heard it, loved it, and wanted to do it, so we sent him a tape, and he did it in Canada. D.C. Cooper from the band Royal Hunt does the song 'New World Order' where the main character in the story is actually contacted by a mystery e-mailer, possibly the leader of the international banking cartel."

Is there a glimmer that we might see a Tyranny Part II? Only the Shadow knows. In any event, as we wait, the present record should provide hours of entertainment and study, for both musicianship critics and literary types alike, not to mention the divergent but merging worlds of heavy metal and more traditional art rock. Shadow Gallery have indeed delivered a huge cornerstone of the new progressive rock legacy. So check it out and remember, as Carl is wont to admonish, strap on those headphones and turn it up .
 


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