Fireworks

The Shadow Theory - 'Behind The Black Veil' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 21, 2010    
 
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There are many good ideas at work here.

Another new name on the progressive metal scene, The Shadow Theory are actually a band made up mostly of names that should be familiar to anyone with a keen interest in the genre. They are the brainchild of Deadsoul Tribe/Psychotic Waltz leader Devon Graves, a particularly eclectic individual who came up with the idea of forming a band around musicians that had impressed him when they’d toured together. German guitarist Arne Schuppner from the band Complex 7 was the first on board, soon followed by ex-Pain Of Salvation bass guitarist Kristoffer Gildenlow, and at the second time of asking, Threshold drummer Johanne James, with the line-up completed by unknown Greek keyboard player Demi Scott; a fan of Graves’ previous work who just happened to send Graves an e-mail asking for career advice.

‘Behind The Black Veil’ is a concept album that the press release describes as “a sinister roller-coaster ride of sound and lyrical imagery combining elements of Thrash, Psychedelic and Symphonic Metal fused with Folk and Prog-Rock undertones”, and I can’t really disagree with that. The story of a drug addicted rock star drifting in and out of consciousness with a needle in his arm was never going to have a melodic uplifting soundtrack, and whilst Graves has done an admirable job of creating aural nightmares to go with the story, it’s certainly not an easy listen. I always thought Deadsoul Tribe were pretty dark, but The Shadow Theory take pain and misery to a whole other level.

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Schizophrenic pieces like ‘I Open Up My Eyes’, ‘The Black Cradle’ and ‘By The Crossroads’ are basically dark, angry and riff-laden but with patches of melody and lots of overlapping vocal parts and whispered voices, further embellished by Graves’ haunting flutes. This is the blueprint for the whole album, although at times they vary the amount of light and dark in each song. ‘Welcome’ and ‘The Sound Of Flies’ lull you into a false sense of security with their gentle acoustic intros, but as the big angry parts kick in it leads you to believe that just about all the tracks will be structured the same way, so it’s a bit of a shock when ‘Selebrate’ stays light and melodic all the way through. On ‘Sleepwalking’ they seem to get things completely right, the mix of grungy guitar riffs, processed vocals and symphonic keyboards making it, for me, the highlight of the album.

Sometimes things go a little too far over the top, like the forced-sounding thrashy parts of ‘Ghostride’ or the many false endings of the bombastic classically-influenced epic ‘A Symphony Of Shadows’, and over the course of the album you get mightily tired of the constant whispered and spoken voices on almost every track. However, despite the fact that The Shadow Theory lag well behind the likes of Opeth and Pain Of Salvation at this cinematic stuff, there are many good ideas at work here and fans of Graves’ previous bands should lap this up.

Phil Ashcroft

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