Shadowseer – Shadowseer
Shadowseer – Shadowseer (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
Suddenly, Utah-based power metal is a thing. Hot on the heels of the smashing debut full-length from fellow Salt Lake metallers Disforia comes the thrashy, riffing offensive mounted by Shadowseer, a group that has existed almost as long and put out an EP titled In The Company Of Evil in 2010. The arid air must do something to the musical wirings of metalheads, because like Disforia, Shadowseer has a similarly hard time being described simply as “power metal”.
Despite the imagery and first impressions that might be made, Shadowseer is a varied ride filled with a surprisingly effective blend of power metal with both traditional and thrash formulas. While the melodies (vocal in particular) are prominent and developed enough to be familiar and comfortable for fans of USPM and perhaps even the more accessible branch of European power metal, the rhythm and guitar work avoid most power metal tropes, instead settling into varied, midpaced riffing. The combination of occasional biting bursts of guitar, unison playing with vocal melodies, bouts of harsh vocals, and elongated songs (five of which are near or over seven and a half minutes) is sure to wake up a few “heard it all before” metal fans.
Vocalist Aleks Ignjatovic has a surprisingly smooth and capable voice for this sort of music – especially in contrast to some of the more aggressive vocals that are dipped into occasionally (though these might be courtesy of another member). He doesn’t have the strongest or surest high register – but doesn’t extend himself into it too often. Rhythm guitar work and drums are the order of the day on this album – I quickly lose track of the number of cool little licks and patterns that seem to pop up out of nowhere on both counts.
While I find certain songs like “Minotaur” to be somewhat plodding and unexciting in a way that reminds me of the “epic heavy metal” style, Shadowseer compensates with a number of very engaging songs like the memorable “Waltz Of Time” and the engaging “Rise To The Throne” duology. I would never quite call this band “progressive”, but its members are certainly forward-thinking in the construction of their music. Standard strophic form is regularly stretched out by varying sections, new riffs, and interesting tidbits to prevent most of the album from falling into the monotony that I feel so regularly plagues both USPM and “epic” heavy/power metal. Instrumentally, Shadowseer is doing well, though I’d love more driving tracks and maybe more roughness to the prominent clean vocals. The song lengths are both a strong point and a weakness (see above), and I think there is some inconsistency here that’s only natural to find in a band’s early work.
After considerable evaluation, I find Shadowseer’s full length to be surprisingly palatable for someone of my listening background. Fans of classic US heavy/power metal that would like a more adventurous twist are going to have a great deal of fun with this, but there’s enough going on to appeal to fans of the greater power metal community, and maybe even some progressive power aficionados searching a bit outside their typical fare. Shadowseer is a commendable debut effort that dangles a appealing treat of new and old sounds in front of listeners, with the promise of something greater to come.
3.5 // 5