Hooooly shit, Batman. It's been way too long since I've done a review, hasn't it? Sorry folks, I've been swamped with a lot of things for my own time (had a show to get ready for and history papers to write). Well, I've got a little bit of free time, so let's try to catch up on some stuff.
Here we've got Burning Shadows, a heavy/power metal band hailing from Maryland. They released their sophomore full-length, Gather, Darkness!, sometime earlier this year. They have a good blend of US heavy metal and some European power metal influences, something akin to Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, and Iced Earth. It's as if Manowar and Falconer had a love-child together. Whilst they do use some rather symphonic parts to embellish their music, they're by no means a "symphonic power metal" band.
The album starts out with a softer sounding orchestra-style instrumental, "Overture: Hymn to Sathanas." It gradually builds up tension, with it's war drum march and bombastic lines from an orchestra, and leads the listener into the heavy stuff. The first actual song, "A Thousand Lies: A New Dark Age," keeps in line with the war march as the mid-tempo riffs plod along. The vocalist sings a baritone, which gives the song (and the rest of the album, if you will), a "macho" sound. Alongside the chunky guitar riffs are nice melodic lines, interluding between different parts of the song.
Now, to bring it off tangent just a bit, if one doesn't look at the track listing while listening to this album, the songs are going to sound like they're fifteen minutes long. And, technically, that would be correct. However, like a true concerto, the album consists of "movements." Essentially, it's like three big songs, but each are broken into different parts. That's going to sound like these guys are pretentious, classical-listening, high-browed, blowhards, but in this case it's very well done. Each song flows perfectly together that unless one is paying attention to the iPod, the change of songs is hard to notice. So after "A Thousand Lies: A New Dark Age" comes "A Thousand Lies: Intra Vires" and "A Thousand Lies: Onward," but everything flows so well and each song sounds different enough that a listener won't be bored by listening to the same theme over and over.
Personally, the highlights of this album are: "A Thousand Lies: Intra Vires," "To Ruin & Divide: Man from Myth," "To Ruin & Divide: Kingdoms Fall," and "Breaking the Sanctuary: The Infamous Dawn." Honestly, the entire "To Ruin & Divide" portion of the album kicks some serious ass. It's heavy and has plenty of energy, and the choruses have a hooky melody that reels you in. "Intra Vires" would satisfy the people with the need for speed, although it's not superbly fast like a tech death band.
The album is produced very well for an independent band, every instrument is clear and nothing is muddled. It's a very well-written album, and the effort really shows in the work. However, some of the instrumentals are on the long side, which would make casual listeners want to switch away. The album sets at forty-five minutes, which some of the songs ranging from six to seven minutes. That being said, it's not a boring listen. It's actually enjoyable.
If you're a fan of epic, war-rallying metal, then this is something for you!