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Not so perfect - 60%

Andromeda_Unchained, October 2nd, 2013

I got into Shadows Past with the advent of their Perfect Chapter demo. I’ve actually come back to it quite a bit over the last few years, which is rare for a demo, and as such I was stoked to see they had a full-length out this year (which soared completely under the radar). It’s good to see each of the tracks from the demo made the full-length, also titled Perfect Chapter, although I’m a little disappointed to say that I don’t feel they lived up to the promise displayed on their demo.

The Shadows Past sound comes off as a blend of the Finnish power metal sound with some progressive metal flourishes a la Symphony X evident in some of the groovier sections. One thing I immediately found off-putting here on Perfect Chapter was the inclusion of growled vocals which abruptly open up the album in “Wherever I Go”. Being so familiar with their brand of power metal, hitting the play button for the first time resulted in my face distorting in ways uncomfortable at best. Luckily the track pans out into a cool mix of Adagio, Stratovarius, and Dream Theater.

Throughout Perfect Chapter, Shadows Past continues to mine their particular vein of progressive power metal, with Jonatan Berg’s Jani Liimatainen-meets-John Petrucci riff style driving the album forward, and former Insania frontman Ola Halen commanding the wheel as the Diet Coke to Timo Kotipelto’s Coca Cola. Staffan Lindroth’s keyboards are worthy of note too, cut from a similar cloth to Mikko Härkin and Jens Johansson, which leads to some enjoyable guitar and keyboard trade-offs as can be heard in “The Scars Run Deep”.

As I touched on earlier, the aggressive vocals are without doubt a big sore point for me. I think what bugs me the most is that they have no business being in these songs; from the abrupt growled intro to “Wherever I Go” to in “Who Am I” – one of my old demo favorites – where the first two words of each verse are growled in unison with the clean vocals. As far as I’m concerned it feels cheap and pointless, an ill-advised hindrance to Ola’s perfectly good performance. I’m sorry to go off on such a tangent, but it sours me to no end. Especially considering the demo versions of the aforementioned “Who Am I”, “Cry No More”, and the title track didn’t feature growls, and were excellent to begin with.

Other than that, Shadows Past don’t go much further wrong. I do think some of the tracks around the middle of the album miss their mark somewhat, but it’s nothing glaringly bad or out of place. For the most part, Perfect Chapter is an enjoyable release, and despite the tracks from the demo standing out the most to me, I could just chalk it down to over-familiarity. Numbers such as “The One” and “The Scars Run Deep” certainly aren’t without merit. Fans of progressively tinged power metal will likely find a lot to enjoy here, particularly if they can look past the growls which, whilst endlessly niggling to me, aren’t too prominent throughout. If you like Stratovarius, Cain’s Offering, or Cardiant, then Shadows Past will be right up your street.

Originally written for http://blackwindmetal.com