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As a long-time music aficionado, I take immense pride in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to all things metal.  I typically feel I’m “In the Know” when it comes to the metal genre, but I must have been asleep at the switch because until recently, I had never heard of the English progressive metal band ShadowKeep.  On the surface, this may be a bit embarrassing.  However, I looked at this deficiency as a way to critically review their release with no preconceived opinions (one way or the other).  Maybe this is the way every review should be.  In any case, here we go…

After taking the latest release of ShadowKeep for a spin, I must say it truly embodies the progressive metal genre. As a musician, I can really appreciate the drum composition of each song on this album. Sometimes drummers can get in the habit of using the some of the same patterns over and over, but Omar Hayes kept it fairly unique in each song. I think something also to be noted is the production value of the album. You can really hear each instrument and what they add to the mix, and I think that is what sells an album. You can be the best writer, best guitar or drum player, but if the instruments aren’t mixed well, then you sell yourself short as a band. The engineers behind the scenes did a great job here and really added to the overall feel of this album.

For a heavy metal band to stand out among the crowd, artists need to ensure that the vocals aren’t too loud and that the guitars and drums aren’t drowning out the vocals. There was obviously a lot of talent in the room when this self-titled album was recorded, and you can tell that each song took a lot of fine tuning to ensure the precision they were all looking for. From the gnarly screams of James Rivera to the guitar solos and riffs of Chris Allen and Nicky Robson, the levels sounded perfect.  You can also tell by listening to this album that ShadowKeep knew exactly what they were looking for when they wrote this album, and I’d say they achieved it. The syncopated drums and guitar were on point the whole time - through each song. Stony Grantham’s bass lines were solid, and really helped to tie each song together structurally.  When you think about it, there isn’t much room for error with these types of songs and they collectively nailed it. 

Although I thoroughly enjoyed all eleven tracks on this release, my favorite hands down was “Guardians of the Sea”.  While many compare James Rivera to Rob Halford of Judas Priest or Todd La Torre of Queensryche / Crimson Glory (and I totally get why these comparisons are made), I immediately though of early King Diamond with Mercyful Fate when listening to this song.  Took me way back and felt Rivera’s pitch and range took the song to a whole new level.  Well done!

Overall, I think there is a healthy mix of styles incorporated throughout ShadowKeep’s latest release that kept it interesting and engaging from start to finish. At its core, the melodic grit of this album was a great comeback record for ShadowKeep,  and I fully believe it will be well perceived by the heavy metal community at large.  Congrats to the band on their release and happy listening everyone. 

Hunnypot Approved!   Overall Rating:  8.6 out of 10


Artist: ShadowKeep,  Album: Self-Titled,  Release Date: March 30th, 2018,  LabelPure Steel Records



James Coffman

Photojournalist - Dallas

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