Shadowland – The Necromancer’s Castle (No Remorse Records)Friday, 29th October 2021
New York City has always been primetime for an important heavy metal community in the United States. The nightlife, the people, musicians all around pushing their sounds to the masses. Home to this new quintet Shadowland – together since 2018 and issuing a demo, EP and single in annual fashion to set the stage for their debut full-length The Necromancer’s Castle. Reaching back with a sound that has more of a primal NWOBHM meets early US metal influences, these eight songs possess that fiery steel ambiance and primal accents that make people don leather, studded wristbands, denim jackets of their favorite artists, and want to headbang at the force penetrating their ears.
The guitar and bass work circulates in that airspace that early Iron Maiden, Saxon, Riot, and those offshoots developed – containing those little earworms and powerful tempos, twin harmony moments, and soaring vocals which makes people elevate to the level of energy present. Vocalist Tanya Finder has that prowess, engaging personality and narrative charm to grab you by the throat from her first words and never let go. Imagine a mix of Betsy Bitch, Kate of Acid, and the spirit of Paul Di’Anno on the first two Iron Maiden records and you’ll understand her riveting nature for “Rising Tide” and the Judas Priest-esque “Easy Livin’”. Knowing how to put forth the right initial riff, building upon it, and then driving home the key chorus/lead break moments are in the wheelhouse of Jeff Filmer and Al Bulmer as guitarists – their work for “Warhound” and opener “Ligeia” razor sharp, blitzing the landscape as seasoned musicians made of metal. Occasionally Shadowland choose to get more commercial to showcase a bit of those 80’s melodic hard rock / gothic nuances, as “Remains” has that early Dokken/Rough Cutt nature, the vocals and clean to heavy transitions ready to be blasted from arenas far and wide.
Even the artwork by Tanya conveys that escapism and fantasy that great heavy metal brings about, plus the production values and tones mirror the era of metal they epitomize. The Necromancer’s Castle transports the listener back to 1981-83, a solid record for old-timers to treasure.