"Lurking in the Shadow Gallery"

by Eric Harabadian
Sponsored In Part By
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Theirs is a sound rooted in the very best of conceptual rock, like Yes, Pink Floyd and Kansas, and known for its lush production values and multi-layered arrangements. For a little over ten years, Philly-based Shadow Gallery have proudly carried the progressive metal torch, remaining one of their label Magna Carta’s most popular bands. The group, which consists of Brendt Allman (guitar and vocals), Mike Baker (lead and backing vocals), Carl Cadden-James (bass, vocals and flute), Chris Ingles (keyboards), Joe Nevolo (drums) and Gary Wehrkamp (guitars, keyboards, vocals and bass) is currently celebrating their decade-plus in the music biz with the release of their fourth album, Legacy. Undoubtedly, over time, their sound has matured and evolved as Gary Wehrkamp explains: “We set out to write more straight-ahead songs with this album. Also I think the overall sound is a significant improvement from our past efforts. We’ve always been a self-produced , self-contained band. Working at our own studio we’ve been able to take the time and develop more of a professional sound with better equipment and just more studio experience.”

Legacy, which was several years in the making, is a modern progressive masterpiece highlighted by piano-centric melodies, dramatic and passionate vocals, and an overall sound that relies more on the collective whole than individual soloists to make a statement. This ensemble aesthetic most likely blossomed from the group’s time-honored work ethic. It is a process that has served them well and is obviously attributable to their longevity as a unit. “Usually we settle conflicts and approach group decisions about songs and things after a few fist fights and a lotta beers,” quips Wehrkamp humorously. “No, actually we proceed with songwriting when someone in the band starts to write. And we’re all involved, in some degree, in that process. There hasn’t been too much friction. While I like to jam and improvise as much as the next guy, and there is that element in our music, it’s more about the song and everything being structured to the note, the beat and the word.”

Touring, of late, has been minimal as all of the band’s members are involved in other projects and careers such as computer programming and studio production. However, they are active preparing and writing songs for their next album.

As afore-mentioned, Shadow Gallery have dedicated many years to the service and craft of progressive and original orchestral rock. Despite the typical conservative cultural and media programming conventions, germane particularly to the U.S., they have remained true to their own path and artistic vision. Wehrkamp observes that, while radio and video outlets are still limited in their presentation of  “art rock” or “progressive metal,” avenues to hear music of this genre are markedly improving. “There may not be five million dollars in promotion backing bands like ours as, say, Britney Spears has, but I still tend to believe things are getting better for our type of music. I think the Internet has played a big part in allowing people choices to see and hear what they want, unlike commercial radio where you’re told what to listen to.”

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