Shadowdance – Ageless (Divebomb Records)

Wednesday, 28th February 2024
Rating: 9 / 10

As an ardent follower of traditional metal plus its offshoots, this scribe remembers during the 1990’s to early 2000’s that power metal didn’t exactly win over many US residents – the majority of which already moved on for alternative or death/extreme angles when it came to the genre. It makes sense that some lost in the shuffle efforts now receive the reissue treatment – that’s the case here for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based act Shadowdance, as Divebomb Records sees fit to give their debut album Ageless another chance in the scene. Unlike most records of this kind, the band choose to re-record everything from the ground up (the original drums and some keyboards the only things left from the original outing), including rightful singer George Eliassen appearing to take the place of a last-minute session vocalist.

Containing eleven tracks and almost one-hour of material, the record shifts between hefty mid-tempo anthems with larger-than-life vocal choruses, occasional power/thrash forays chugging with double kick / thick riffage beyond demanding melodies, as well as the two epic efforts which showcase some exotic, dynamic nuances or dramatic twists. Many will enjoy the walking, Middle Eastern bass lines Carlos Alvarez injects into the 8:22 “Lines in the Sand” – the guest keyboard solo of Tim Mckinstry majestic as it is bombastic, while Carlos possesses strong European-like hefty guitar riff instincts on other highlights such as “Climb” and the alluring “Set Free”. Special guests come in the form of vocalists, guitarists and keyboardists with ties to acts like Job For a Cowboy, Chaos Frame and Judicator among others – yet never deters from the exquisite, heavy foundation the band displays. Specific attention to detail when it comes to guitar harmonization or key, moody vocal melodies convey a love of artists like Savatage, Iced Earth, all the way to Angel Dust and Brainstorm – check out the somber “Stones in a River” plus bombastic, Teutonic-driven roller coaster that ends the record “Forever”. The newer cover art also fits the output a little better than the stark original piece – while George’s voice has that hefty presence that’s similar to the work of Matt Barlow, Bruce Dickinson, and Urban Breed.

Shadowdance is one of those acts caught in the shuffle between what was acceptable in the US that never grew out of favor in Europe and other parts of the world. Ageless is an apt title for this record – those who love musicianship-filled power metal with plenty of muscle, might, and versatility would be well-advised to dig deep into this album.

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