"Room V" (SPV; 2005)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Shadow Gallery's record releases are infrequent, yet when these American Prog rockers get it together, they rival Dream Theater, Queensryche, and Symphony X for the coveted crown of prog rock. 

On the outfit's latest 14-track endeavor, the band mixes in a plethora of hard rock, arena rock, and rock ballads, and the end result is a disc that most fans of bands such as Deep Purple and ELP can surely sink their teeth into. 

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"Legacy" (Magna Carta; 2001)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Legacy" is the long-awaited follow-up to 1999's "Tyranny" which really brought the band's name to the forefront even outside the prog-rock and prog-metal worlds. "Legacy" is only a tiny bit of a letdown from "Tyranny", but not dramatically so.

"Cliffhanger 2" adds to the story started on the "Carved In Stone" CD released in 1995 and contains all the trademark Shadow Gallery riffing, pacing, and complex progressive elements that we've all come to expect. The ballad "Colors" has its moments as well as it seemingly bridges the old Shadow Gallery sound with the band's willingness to play lighter material and really lets vocalist Mike Baker show off his considerable singing ability. "Society Of The Mind" is a heavy rocker that clearly shows Shadow Gallery can operate effectively in a five-minute format as well as the epic length songs they are so well known for.

Whereas "Tyranny" had a compelling storyline to carry the songs "Legacy" lacks any such common thread. That's not really a detriment, but it does make you work a little harder to appreciate the songs. "Legacy" is just as enjoyable as "Tyranny" even though it lacks the immediate like-ability of "Tyranny."

As always, the individual performances of each obviously talented instrumentalist and vocalist are stellar and work well as a whole. It's easy to see that discipline and restraint are virtues to Shadow Gallery even when their chances to shine allow them to dip into what others might call self-indulgent expression.

Since Shadow Gallery doesn't tour you'll have to get your musical fix from these ever-growing prog-rock/prog-metal stalwarts from CDs only.

"Legacy" was produced by Gary Wehrkamp and Shadow Gallery. "Legacy" was mixed by Neil Kernon (Queensryche, Spiral Architect). Superb production makes "Legacy" pleasing to listen to and enjoyable to pick out all of the varying shades and colors.

Shadow Gallery: Mike Baker on lead and backing vocals; Brendt Allman on guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, and occasional keyboards; Gary Wehrkamp on guitar, keyboards, and bass sound effects; Carl Cadden-James on bass, vocals, and flute; Chris Ingles on keyboards; and Joe Nevolo on drums.

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"Tyranny" (Magna Carta; 1998)shadowgallerytyn.jpg (12933 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Tyranny" is an excellent concept album that echoes the progressive metal classic "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. The theme of the disc is one man's struggle over the course of a year to make sense of his place in life. The central character has to deal with corporate greed, war, lies, his father's death, and finding true love.

The disc is presented in two "acts." Act I is about the oppression of the poor by the rich within the military-industrial complex as corporations meddle in politics. Act II is the story of the main character trying to find inner peace in a hard world. However, the sprawling nature of the lyrics and the various themes therein suggest there's a lot more meaning than just a cursory review of the lyrics might suggest. A wide variety of human emotions and experience are woven in and out of the storyline all the while supporting the crux of the story.

"Victims" describes the pervasive and nearly contagious nature of violence; the staccato guitars provide the perfect backdrop to the horrors of modern society. Act I ends with the depressing tale of a man blaming himself for the lies told by others that he couldn't decipher that have a negative impact on the world. The quiet piano intro to "Hope For Us?" hints at a power ballad, yet Shadow Gallery provide soaring guitars and lush background keys that manage to avoid clichés.

Act II begins with the main character's dying father providing the hopeful words that pull the main character out of depression and into action - the past can be a guide to correcting the wrongs so long as people are willing to fight for a just and civil future. "Roads Of Thunder" plays a central part of the story as our main character plants a computer virus that is designed to cripple the military industrial complex. The instrumental break in the song is complex and a satisfying tapestry of great skill. The galloping instrumental "Chased" which describes the main character's flight from authority is a tour-de-force of cascading guitar and keyboard runs. Appropriately enough, the last song -  "Christmas Day" - leaves the central character wondering if his lover will return to meet him in the hope that the year past will only lead to better things in the New Year.

Shadow Gallery's music is firmly in the progressive vein of Dream Theater, Rush, and Queensryche. At times the tone of the music sounds exactly like these three bands yet never too derivative.  Classical music influences can also be heard which gives the music depth and a timeless quality; Shadow Gallery are very adept at making their own unique lush progressive sound with confidence.

Vocalist Mike Baker is balanced by backing vocals from the band and outside contributors. James LaBrie (of Dream Theater), Laura Jager, and D.C. Cooper (of Royal Hunt from Sweden) provide unique voices to different characters in the story. The dual guitar attack of Brendt Allman and Gary Wehrkamp gives the music heavy and dramatic flair. Bassist Carl Cadden-James provides most of the lyrics and vocal melodies. Keyboard player Chris Inges weaves the keys' textures in and out of the music. Drummer Joe Nevolo provides a solid backbeat throughout the disc. Carl Cadden-James and Gary Wehrkamp take the lead in producing "Tyranny", but the rest of the band gets collective credit for their efforts.

Hailing from Pennsylvania, Shadow Gallery can be accessed at their official website at

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:20 -0400.