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"Freedom" (Self-produced)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

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Wisconsin-based Shadowcaster plays a mix of true metal, classic power metal, and progressive metal. "Freedom," Shadowcaster's self-financed debut, is an eye-opener, to say the least. 

Shadowcaster sounds like an amalgam of Queensryche and Metallica with a little horse-galloping Iron Maiden thrown in. Despite those obvious influences, Shadowcaster has a fairly unique sound that seems likely to avoid comparisons if the band sticks to its vision.

Shadowcaster is equally adept at writing heavy material and mellow material regardless of the song's length. There are very few weak points considering the consistency of the disc from beginning to end. However, in my opinion, Shadowcaster should stick to writing epics.

"Hard To Believe" and "Crusade" are epic songs that 'let the metal flow' and rarely seem forced. Shadowcaster's heavier tunes, "Opposition" being a prime example, are exuberant displays of metallic flair. Shadowcaster's mellow, non-epic tunes come off a bit like Metallica's 'pop song' failure "Escape." Now, this isn't to say that their shorter songs are failures, but rather to say that their shorter songs lack the inspired inventiveness of their more progressive side which is inherently revealed in their epic tunes and heavier songs.

What I like best about Shadowcaster's "Freedom" is the inventiveness and disciplined approach of the guitar tandem of Rich Hessil and Mike Morrison. Both Hessil and Morrison contribute guitar work that draws equally from both metal and progressive realms without sounding like note-for-note copies of those guitarists that might have given them inspiration. Besides, it never hurts when two lead guitarists can paint their band's songs with two distinct voices.

Shadowcaster is an outfit that would be appreciated by the likes of fans who like power metal/progressive metal. Also, those of you who attend concert events like PowerMad in Baltimore and ProgPower in Atlanta and are pleasantly surprised by the less-than-famous names on the bill should check out Shadowcaster. Fans of Archetype, Exhibition, Mystic-Force, and October Thorns should check out Shadowcaster.

I, for one, am intrigued enough to look forward to future Shadowcaster releases. And I hope I don't have to wait too long.

"Freedom" was produced by Troy Stetina and Shadowcaster. The production is average at best, but good enough to hear the band's passion for their songs and music.

Shadowcaster is Rich Hessil on vocals and guitars, Mike Morrison on guitars, keyboards, and backing vocals, and Dave Race on drums and percussion. Bass was played by Rich Hessil and Ty Detrick.

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Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01 Dec 2019 12:47:25 -0500.