Zandelle – Shadows Of The Past
Zandelle is by now a household name in the U.S. power metal scene, particularly for those of us who live here and don’t have a whole lot of native bands to go crazy over (or didn’t, at least). This band has released several solid albums while continuously battling with lineup changes (including replacing both guitarists this year), and at first I’ll admit that I was seriously disappointed in this collection of songs, mistakenly assuming that it was an entirely new album rather than what it actually proved to be- a compilation of early materials that have been supplemented and re-recorded.
The album cover is an updated throwback to that of the original EP. This predates the gargoyles and warriors taking down mythical beasts that have dominated their later albums, and as it implies, “Shadows Of The Past” incorporates a great deal of resurrected early songs. This includes four out of six tracks off of the band’s 1996 self-titled EP, five re-recorded tracks off of the band’s debut full-length “Shadows Of Reality”, the previously unreleased “Unleashed”, the brand new track “Scream My Name”, and a cover of Whitesnake’s “Bad Boys.”
As an album by itself, this falls considerably short. “Ecstasy” is not a bad opener, but neither is it very exciting. I kept waiting for the thrilling moments of “Blood Red Shores” and “Warlords Of Steel”, and the next thing I knew, it was almost five minutes later and I’d managed only a mild head bob. Much to my relief, “Medieval Ways” provided me with something interesting that I’d never heard before, with the highlight being the catchy chorus with its distinctive dual vocal lines. From that point on, however, despite some good guitar solos, the album is very clearly recycling old material, and it’s definitely less fresh than the first time that you’ve heard it. In addition, some songs don’t even make much sense. Take for example “The Warrior”, which bears a forty second introduction that is completely forgettable, especially after the more energetic main riff gets going. The guitar leads in particular are probably the biggest element missing from Zandelle’s early formula here, as they all seem washed-up, too brief, or just plain boring.
If you know Zandelle, you know that George Tsalikis has a voice that is pretty distinctive. Listening to this album as a throwback, I’m glad that his style has changed so much since these songs were written. Despite remaining clean throughout, he rises to some gritty and impish-sounding shrieks now and again that sour my taste. While his vocals occasionally get on my nerves, This tendency almost completely ruins a couple of songs for me. It’s a pity really, because the guy can really wail when he wants to, and I feel like re-creating old material doesn’t do justice to his voice. The one new track here, “Scream My Name”, is not very good, and the shrill shrieks are particularly bad (though I’m sure this was intentional), making it that much more forgettable.
All-in-all, I’m afraid this hits me as mostly unnecessary. Aside from the good “Medieval Ways” and a fun cover of Whitesnake’s “Bad Boys”, this is definitely second-rate material that will mostly only appeal to devoted fans of the band.
Dan’s Rating: 2.75 out of 5