Shadow Gallery, one of those bands, that never got the attention they deserve. This is Progressive Metal and if you don’t know what it means, i once heard a friend of mine, describe the genre as Jazz metal , maybe that will help you understand it..
I have listened to this band since 1998, when the “Tyranny” album came out. Needless to say, it got to me, right from the start. This cool easy sound, great vocal, and super cool melodies, made me feel good and the musician in me loved it. You know, sometimes there is some music that just, kind of speaks to you. This was one of these moments..
As i wrote, they never have had the big commercial success, but nevertheless, they keep on making fantastic music, and even between my friends, there is not a lot who have heard of them, and get surprised when they hear this music..
But now I’m writing about them, explaining a little, and hopefully somebody out there, will be hit by the feeling of great music.. Actually, if you haven’t guessed it, the whole idea of writing this, is to inspire people to try it..
Progressive Metal is a big category, but I will describe Shadow Gallery as a “band”, which, for me, means that it’s the whole thing, the music, the outcome of all the ingredients together, that makes it great, not because some of the members are great individuals, but they just sounds cool together…
But let’s see what the great internet has for us about them :
Sorcerer originally consisted of Mike Baker, Carl Cadden-James, Ron Evans, and John Coonie. The ensemble began as a cover band, particularly interested in covering difficult to play songs by artists such as Yngwie Malmsteen and Rush. In 1985, guitarists Chris Ingles and Brendt Allman joined the band, with Ingles immediately switching to keyboard duties. At this time, Ron Evans departed in order to pursue other musical interests and goals.
Debut and Carved in Stone: 1991–1998
After changing their name to Shadow Gallery and recording a short 8 track demo, Mike Varney eventually signed them to Magna Carta records on August 23, 1991 as the label’s second contract (the first having been Magellan). The record label’s objective had been “..to bring a fresh breath of progressive rock to an audience who was subdued by larger record companies quest for typical commercial music”. Impressed with Shadow Gallery’s initial demo, Varney suspected the band could help fulfill this objective.
Shadow Gallery’s eponymous debut was released the following year in Japan and Europe. However, before the arduous commitments of a supporting tour and a new studio album, the band needed to secure a stable lineup. April 1993 saw the recruitment of guitarist/keyboardist Gary Wehrkamp, originally of the band The Boxtops. Another lineup addition followed in April 1994 with drummer Kevin Soffera. With this new solidified lineup, Shadow Gallery released its second studio recording on July 11, 1995, titled Carved in Stone. However, time constraints and other commitments precluded the band from touring in support of both albums.
Carved in Stone was followed up by their 1998 release, Tyranny. The album is a deeply political concept album, with themes including the nature of war and the military-industrial complex. Tyranny is also notable for the contributions made by a number of guest musicians. Beyond James LaBrie’s vocal contribution to “I Believe,” D. C. Cooper (vocalist of Royal Hunt) contributed vocals to the track “New World Order,” and violinist Paul Chou made a guest appearance on the tracks “Spoken Words” and “New World Order,” with the former featuring a duet between Mike Baker and Laura Jaeger. Shadow Gallery would return the favor to LaBrie in 1998 when Allman, Cadden-James, Wehrkamp and local musician/songwriter Gary Sloyer appeared on and aided in LaBrie’s musical side project, Mullmuzzler. Their debut record, Keep It to Yourself, was released by Magna Carta in the Summer of 1999.”
On April 10, 2001, the band released their fourth studio album, Legacy, which would prove to be their last under Magna Carta Records. While this album was released in between Tyranny and Room V, it had no relation to the ongoing narrative of the two albums, instead forming a collection of independent songs. The album was met with generally favorable reviews, for example Screaming in Digital wrote that:
“Legacy is more progressive, artistic and technical than the band’s previous work, although there are a couple nods to the possibility of mainstream radio airplay. It exhibits the well-balanced sound and highly polished production they’re known for, with flawless instrumental work and vocals that, while not as emphasized as those of Geoff Tate or James LaBrie, are clear, emotional and perfectly suited to the music. It’s not a sequel to Tyranny any more than Empire was a sequel to Operation: Mindcrime, but it’s definitely some of the better music out there.”— excerpted from a review by Dan Birchall of Screaming in Digital
2005 – 2008: Room V
On May 30, 2005 (Europe) and June 7, 2005 (USA) Shadow Gallery released Room V; the band’s fifth studio album, and first under new record label InsideOut. It is a concept album which continued the narrative set out in Tyranny. The album included Jaeger returning to perform a vocal duet on “Comfort Me.”
Included as a limited edition, the band also released a second disc. In addition to a multimedia segment titled The Story of Room V,the album contained five extra tracks, including a Joe Nevolo drum solo (“Joe’s Spotlight”), an unreleased demo (entitled “Memories”), an acoustic version of Room V’s “Rain”, and a long medley covering many Pink Floyd songs titled Floydian Memories. This track is particularly notable, as it features Mark Zonder performing drums on the “One in a Crowd” portion of the medley, as well as Arjen Lucassen performing guest vocals and the “Shine On” guitar solo.
2008 – 2009: Baker’s death and Digital Ghosts
According to an email sent to the Shadow Gallery News email list on October 31, 2008, Baker died after suffering a heart attack on October 29, 2008, at the age of 45.
Despite the death of Baker, Shadow Gallery continued, and their latest album, Digital Ghosts, was released on October 23, 2009 in Europe with new vocalist Brian Ashland.
Wehrkamp stated on Shadow Gallery’s MySpace page:
Shadow Gallery will continue. We will finish this record and make it as potent as it can be. There are some questions to be answered, but we feel confident we will be provided with the answers. The band has read so many of the wonderful heart touching comments, and heard from so many people these past two weeks and we look forward to giving the Shadow Gallery fans our very best, to honor them, and Mike.
2010 – present: Recent events
On 3 September 2014, Shadow Gallery responded to a question on their Facebook page regarding a new album with: “There is movement, creation, there is collaboration, preparation- words spin into music freely given, voices for the stories told, passion to share with strokes so tender, so bold – a new dream born of old. Days pass but we do not count, we are forever past the age of doubt. We will rise. We will rise. You whisper time and who will follow you?…We are working on it.”
On November 29, 2015, Gary Wehrkamp’s home and studio of was destroyed by a fire. Shadow Gallery subsequently posted links to their Facebook page asking fans to donate money to nonprofit organization Mady’s Angels to aid Wehrkamp and his family. In addition, a benefit concert for the Wehrkamps was held at Sherman Theater on December 26. Although Wehrkamp and his family have made a recovery since, it is unclear how this will affect the band’s progress on the new album.
In June 2016, the band’s Facebook page featured new material in the making via short Periscope videos.
Last words : The latest, even though it is a little old, is stil super cool album, which i still listen to now and then. They still have this great way of writing and performing their music. With the great vocal, choir, keyboard and fantastic melodic metal, I can only hope for more in a not too distant future..
I will turn my stereo up, and encourage you to give it a try..
Back soon.. Bamze