Back in the early 00’s should anyone ask which was the hottest newcomer (and perhaps sole member) in the British power metal scene the answer was simple: SHADOWKEEP. The band took off back then with an awesome EP followed by the full length album “Corruption Within”. Since then being a part of the metal scene was not always an easy task for SK. The band has suffered a great deal of misfortunes including constant line-up changes and some serious health issues.
However the remarkable obstinacy of the founding members Chris Allen and Nikki Robson has proven to be enough to keep them on the road on and since the band managed to survive the second departure of their original vocalist Rogue Marechal in 2015, i don’t believe that there is anything out there to stop them.
So here it is, the band’s fourth album, simply called “Shadowkeep”. For the vocal part the band has enlisted the one only James Rivera, a firm choice since both Robson and Allen have stated that they are longtime HELSTAR fans and admittedly he fits perfect. SHADOWKEEP have always been a band that it’s mainly inspired by the U.S. power/prog scene: QUEENSRYCHE, early FATES WARNING, HELSTART, VICIOUS RUMORS have been principal influences in the development of their songs. Therefore “Shadowkeep” couldn’t not differ much from their previous album “The Hourglass Effect”. Straight as Robin’s arrows American power metal with heavy, edgy riffs, soaring solos and a couple of melodic lines. Almost all songs rely on heavy, technical, steady, precise, riffing combined with solid rhythm section while Rivera delivers his best performance since the DESTINY’S END albums. Aggressive but not to a non classic metal level and sentimental when it is necessary (“Little Lion”, “Never forgotten”). While the album lacks of memorable choruses it exceeds in guitar work something that its more than obvious in songs like “Horse of War” or “Isolation”. Not an easy listening to some audiences, who might prefer something more catchy but surely a must for U.S. metal fans alongside with the NECRYTIS album.
To sum up, I listen to the album quite often. It is not tedious, instead it is challenging, enjoyable, heavy and vigorous, something not easy to be found nowadays….