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There have been few opportunities of late for me to be patriotic with regards to the metal output of my home state of Pennsylvania, but when they do occur they are most welcome. This is primarily because the preferred diet of Philadelphia and all other respective major municipalities has been towards the current metalcore craze or the otherwise ongoing hardcore scene. But occasionally a decent band that conforms to neither of these two categories comes along, in this case a USPM outfit by the name of Shadowdance that has a somewhat loose membership connection with that of the metalcore act Single Bullet Theory, but resembles the latter in no such way in terms of sound and character.
This particular EP contains a small collection of songs extracted from an obscure debut in “Ageless”, right at the height of the early 2000s power metal rebirth no less, and have been touched up a bit vocally to reflect the newly found prowess of the band at present. The obvious influences of Helstar, Steel Prophet and Pharaoh are pretty difficult to miss, particularly in the vocals which heavily resemble that high pitched, yet edgier and nastier character that generally doesn’t come with the European variant but was always present States side and spilled over into a number of early thrash and speed metal acts. Along with the obvious late 80s and late 90s trappings is a fair amount of progressive elements, bringing in a good measure of atmospheric keyboard and rhythmic grooves that are somewhat along the lines of present Kamelot, but free of the techno and symphonic trappings.
Overall “Another Look” proves to be a solid listening experience that only wants in the production department a bit (the drums are a bit too dry sounding for this style), but gives some impressive results in all other respects. The opener “Hollow” proves to be the most captivating with its simplistic riff assault and hook driven vocal melodies which are delivered with ample force and intrigue, and are further bolstered by a precision based speed drumming line reminiscent of Exciter. The closer “Line In The Sand” opts for the longer and slower road, but gets pretty involved in the keyboard department (to the point of almost resembling Dream Theater at times), and plays up a latent Middle-Eastern tendency in the band’s music to the point of illustrating the hanging gardens of Babylon. The contents in between are not quite as memorable, but are also built on a solid canvass of speed drumming, active bass work reminiscent of Joey Demaio, and all the solid guitar and vocal trimmings of a seasoned power metal machine.
This band has hinted at an ongoing effort to re-record the remains of “Ageless” in the near future, and if their contents are of a similar caliber of what is found on here, it will definitely be an album to watch for given that the original version is pretty hard to come by and according to the testimony of the band, subpar next to their current abilities. This isn’t quite the long awaited resurgence of the beast that was Steel Prophet, but it comes pretty close at times, and should definitely appeal to that contingent of the USPM crowd quite strongly.