Album: Gallows of Eden
Release Date: 27th January 2020
Record Label: Garelock Records
ShadowQuest came up on an Album Radio based on Majestica while I was listening to the Above The Sky album. Occasionally Spotify brings up an absolute gem of a song, and Guardian of Heaven was the track that I first listened to. I knew immediately I had to check this band out, and seeing that there was a recent release this year, of course I had to do a review! By doing a little research, it seems that ShadowQuest is a power metal supergroup, featuring members of Bloodbound, Stratovarius, and Shining, to name a few. This can only be a formula for some great power metal, surely?
That scream to start The Avenger, going straight into some fast paced instrumental sends shivers down my spine. That is one HELL of a start to a power metal album. Far too often you have a gentle intro track but this is the exception and it’s great to see this change. It’s not your light, fantasy power metal, it’s hard hitting and powerful. Less of the symphonic elements and much more focused on the vocal to bring the melody. I already want to see ShadowQuest live and I’m less than 2 minutes into the album. Guitars bring in another fast paced track in the form of Titans of War. The vocals are very much a la Rob Halford’s Painkiller to start with, before going back to the more “usual” power metal vocal. The lyrics are a lot more of the “soaring eagles and dragons” tradition you see in a lot of newer power metal, but the instrumental is still gritty and heavy. This track shows Patrik’s different vocal styles.
The title track, Gallows of Eden, has a much slower tempo, and is of that what I call “marching pace” which I always feel is ripe for fists in the air and headbanging. I always feel like this kind of power metal track has a more mysterious feel and brings out power metal’s darker side. Guardian of Heaven is a big contrast and a much more uplifting track, and the track that got me interested in ShadowQuest to start with. There are more choral vocals and it feels more triumphant. This is more of the cheesy variety of power metal I’ve been listening to recently, and it’s a track I know I will end up listening to again and again. It has everything you could want from a cheesy power metal track, including a key change! It’s one of those tracks that makes you feel excited and happy.
Armageddon starts with a church organ, then guitar and choir. It’s a slow, gentle start, a stark contrast from Guardian of Heaven. The tempo increases when the full instrumental kicks in, but the solemn melody still continues from the guitar until the vocals kick in and everything explodes. Dr Midnight is another happier power metal track. It’s got a really catchy chorus that would be great to sing along to live. I can easily see this being a fan favourite at a live show. There’s even a nice little synthy keyboard solo which is followed on by the guitar.
Reborn, somewhat fittingly, starts with church organ, and has a very Firewind-esque main instrumental. The instrumental behind the vocals, however, become less gritty and hard hitting and lets the vocal takes the lead to start with. There’s a few different styles in this track, but it flows really well. There’s a long guitar solo and instrumental section, of which there has to be at least one in every power metal album. Into the Unknown feels very Firewind-esque to me, and that is definitely not a bad things. The guitar tone and the fast drums bring energy to the track, but the chorus’ are definitely more of the fantasy style power metal. Again, the use of two different power metal tropes works and flows really well. This could very well be up there with Guardian of Heaven for my favourite track on this album!
Caught in a Flame has another marching pace, but it has a little more groove in it. The chorus is is one to belt out. The Kingmen Awaits is a gentle introduction to the end of the album. It definitely has a Bloodbound feel to it, like Nosferatu. However, when the instrumental kicks in, it’s still a slower paced track until the gallop begins (I was wondering when we’d have a gallop in the album, what power metal album is complete without one?!). Again, this is another track that blends various elements of power metal staples into one.
And of course, what power metal album is complete without a cover? ShadowQuest chose the famous Helloween track ‘I Want Out’, which is well done, but doesn’t quite have the grit of the original which I feel a cover would need.
Gallows of Eden is a good blend of the more traditional “heavy metal” side of power metal (Firewind, Iron Maiden), and the more fantasy side (Majestica, Rhapsody). Unfortunately for me, personally, there was just something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. The tracks themselves flowed really well, but the album overall didn’t flow quite as well as I’d have liked it to. Having said that, the quality and musicianship of the band is impeccable, and I can’t fault the talent that these guys have.
Buy ShadowQuest music and merch: https://shadowquest.se/index.html
Listen to ShadowQuest on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4mRHoldvjjuU6HZeMIFg7M
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ShadowQuest website: https://shadowquest.se/