Shadow Gallery Legacy

In the power-progressive metal sub-genre, very few bands possess the wherewithal to go above and beyond their immensely talented competitors. All of them have the ambition, most have the chops, but few have the truly memorable vocals. Thankfully, this Pennsylvania sextet succeeds in all three areas to stand tall amidst their many imitators. The band's fourth album, Legacy begins with a Rush-like grandeur as the 13-minute suite "Cliffhanger 2" cleaves into two distinctly different parts: "Hang On" bows more toward serious Kansas mixed with classical guitar breakdowns perfected by Marty Friedman in Megadeth's "Holy Wars. The Punishment Due." "The Crusher" is heavier prog with wailing axe interchanges by Brendt Allman and Gary Wehrkamp, both obvious Dave Mustaine disciples. Front-man Mike Baker knows exactly when to belt and when to croon, and though "Destination Unknown" (not a Missing Persons cover) starts out like a hair-metal piano ballad, Baker ups the ante with subtle Queen-y harmonies while Chris Ingles tinkles the ivories with some ELP keyboard flourishes. "Colors" immediately invokes Grand Illusion-era Styx while the Dream Theatrical "Society of the Mind" whets the metal appetite for the like-minded title track. The sprawling "First Light" gets a bit long in the tooth at 34 minutes, though die-hard proggers will love the length. Shadow Gallery deserves much credit for this musical milestone, which will only further the band's reign over the progressive underground. (Magna Carta)