Shadowkeep - Shadowkeep
Pure Steel Records
Progressive Heavy Metal
11 songs (55' 1")
Release year: 2018
Pure Steel Records
Reviewed by Andy

British power metal outfit Shadowkeep hasn't always gotten the attention one would expect from a fairly mature power metal project. Perhaps it's the lack of a consistent vocal identity, or the worship of late-80s prog/power greats that the band had on full display for the first few albums. Shadowkeep does three things that ought to immediately increase interest. Direct Queensryche influence is dialed down quite a bit, progressive guitar cleverness is dialed up, and the new vocalist is Helstar's James Rivera, a monster in the vocal department.

For many fans, the mere fact that the progressive heaviness and instrumental cleverness on display is par for Shadowkeep's previous efforts may be welcome news on its own. Nicki Robson's hammering rhythm-guitar riffing is fast, meaty, and a perfect fit for fellow founding guitarist Chris Allen's technical lead wizardry. And in James Rivera, the band finds a vocalist worthy of its talents. At 58, he sings on Shadowkeep like he's in his twenties, jumping from the middle of his range to the very top to let out unabashedly 80s-style screams. Between the unexpected power of his banshee howl and the chunky, ever-competent guitar work, it's hard to find an area that needs improvement.

Nor does the songwriting disappoint. I wouldn't call the tunes available on Shadowkeep boldly progressive mold-breakers -- they inherit quite a bit from Crimson Glory and some of the other progressive heavy metal followers of Queensryche's breakaway successes in the late 80s -- but with Rivera on vocal duties, they certainly sound true to their style. Even the introspective Little Lion has a tough core of guitar and vocal power under the acoustic softness, but epics like Flight Across the Sand, arpeggiated thrashers on the lines of Angels and Omens, are even better. Shadowkeep's fierce but smooth musical attack serves their songs well, giving the production a clean but not overdone quality.

Listeners to modern heavy metal screamers such as RAM will love this one, but fans of older heavy metal experimenters such as Wicked Maraya will like Shadowkeep too. A band that was already composed of some excellent instrumentalists now has a vocalist that gives this album the right personality.

Killing Songs :
Flight Across the Sand, Angels and Omens, Minotaur
Andy quoted 86 / 100
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