"Room V”, the new album by American band Shadow Gallery is a fine example of how the band unites compositional elegance and craftsmanship together with an ability to combine new influences with their own trademark sound. “I think this time our song writing was more intelligent and we achieved a better production than we have in the past”, says guitar player and keyboardist Gary Wehrkamp, one of the main composers of the band. “Basically, we didn’t want to follow the same direction of our previous releases. In the end we realised that Shadow Gallery has had a unique and unchanged style for a long time now”.
Five albums in thirteen years shows a band that is not just making albums for the sake of it. Moreover, it conveys a deliberate care and artistic precision that takes place in their work processes. This is possibly also the reason why they are regarded as one of the most important and innovative progressive metal bands to come out in the last decade. After the release of their enthusiastic self titled debut in 1992, the band created a strong impression with its superior follow up, “Carved In Stone” in 1995. Both “Tyranny” (1998) and “Legacy” (2001), continued to show a band that literally progressed with each subsequent release.
“Room V” thematically continues on from 1998’s concept album “Tyranny”, which dealt with a story of two human beings in search of a new identity. “The story of ‘Room V’ begins eight hours on from the end of ‘Tyranny’”, explains Wehrkamp. “It deals with the already familiar characters and their lives. Both are planning to finish with their past, but they realise that with everything they want to leave behind; there is the beginning of something new. It’s just the tip of the iceberg”. “Room V” traces how the protagonist’s story has just begun and how new perspectives begin to emerge for them. “Act I” and “Act II” from “Tyranny” are now followed with 14 individual chapters from Acts “III” and “IV”; in which the band explore the complete spectrum of progressive metal from hard edged rock through to softer, more atmospheric sounds. Within this wide ranging spectrum is Mike Baker’s commanding voice surrounded by elaborate instrumental passages, highlighted with blazing keyboard and guitar solos. Additionally, the album features a duet with singer Laura Jaeger who also contributed to the “Tyranny” album and Shadow Gallery’s interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Time” from the tribute album “The Moon Revisited”.
The songs from “Room V” were composed in Shadow Gallery’s own unique way. Wehrkamp and guitarist Brendt Allman provided the artistic foundation upon which bassist Carl Cadden-James and vocalist Mike Baker could fashion their own ideas for melody and lyrics. “Room V” was mastered by Jeff Glixman, known for his past collaborations with Black Sabbath, Gary Moore, Kansas and Cinderella. Here, Glixman capably provides the band with a balanced mix of striking heaviness and atmospheric depth.
Shadow Gallery’s excellent reputation has led to individual members becoming sought after guest artists in their own right. Both Gary Wehrkamp and Mike Baker have each contributed to the Ayreon and Star One projects by Dutch artist Arjen Lucassen. They also wrote tracks for James LaBrie’s (Dream Theater) Mullmuzzler project. On top of that, they contributed to 2001’s “Leonardo – The Absolute Man”, a rock opera based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci. However it is with Shadow Gallery that they share their best work and “Room V” is a prime example of this!