Shades Of Remembrance
For years and years, there have been many progressive metal bands that have struggled to be heard. For many, they never get the chance, and therefore never truly get out there. For others, their sheer will to be known pushed them to be discovered by fans. With progressive metal, it's difficult to really make a statement about your sound. Everyone looks and claims to sound like the next Fates Warning, Dream Theater or Queensryche, but with such lofty names to put as an equal to yourself, the actual music behind it lets you down somewhat. For Cleveland's Shades Of Remembrance, they can loosely claim the name Fates Warning as somewhat of an influence, but ultimately they are not a good counter to any of those named bands. While VEIL is a very good release, it's not really comparable to big name progressive metal bands. They are much more metal; more gritty and more raw then the uber polished approach the bands listed about have exhibited. Don't take that as a bad thing either, as it's refreshing to hear powerful progressive playing without some studio engineer "cleaning it up". This is a solid listen.
Listening to VEIL numerous times, the performance that sticks out the most to me is that of guitarist Al Bauhof and rhythm player Calvin Burgess. In many ways, their raw and gritty, almost barroom sound has more of a very early Iron Maiden meets Black Sabbath combined power than what you get from most prog bands. Listening to songs like "False Intentions", you can tell these guys have much more of a "metal lineage" than they do "prog". On other songs like "Bad Memory", the crunch of the guiding riff feels ripped straight off an early Testament album, and that's all good with me. They lay some dirty, fat groundwork for vocalist Elm Burgess to showcase from. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Russell Allen of Symphony X, in that he's not a pure, clean singer. Instead, he adds a lot of grit to his clean vocals, which makes them sound tougher and more rugged. There are times, like on "Scream", where the vocals do come off a touch flat around the high end, but overall you have as much attitude as polish throughout. Elm additionally plays bass, and teams with drummer Todd Martin to provide a solid rhythm section that is so important to this kind of band. While I'm not overwhelmed with the sound of the drums on VEIL (they do have a bit of a cardboard box feel on some songs, most notably on "Scream" where there's not as much music covering it up), it's clear that Martin can play.
PITRIFF RATING - 74/100 - These guys are an unsigned band, so the production things are somewhat expected based on budget. But I have to judge on what I hear, and not what "could have been". I haven't seen this band, but my assumption is that there's a lot of energy at their shows based on some powerful songs that are on display here. VEIL does it's job to create interest in this band. With any luck, it will produce enough residual income for the band so they can record in a better environment next time around. Still though, this raw sound with progressive elements is welcomed. Pretty good record.