Burning Shadows made a lasting impression on me with their 2012 release Gather, Darkness!, which demonstrated a band that had a strong sound, good tunes, and a very capable singer; all essential components for power metal success. Continue reading
Gather, Darkness! is the second album from Burning Shadows, and is quite frankly one of the most enjoyable Power Metal albums I’ve heard in a while. Everything, from the album cover to the lyrics, to the sound production to the songs themselves; it all screams top quality at the top of its voice. It’s such a good listen I had to quiz them about it…
How did you form?
Tim Regan, rhythm guitar: Way back in 2000, I met Greg at a Cannibal Corpse show, which is odd because I was never much into Cannibal Corpse. The next day, I saw Greg again at a guitar store. When it turned out we were both guitarists and liked Iced Earth and Dream Theater and so on, it was pretty much a done deal to start a band. After years on working on Burning Shadows on and off with different lineups and playing the local music scene, we eventually found David Spencer (drums), Aaron El-Zeftawy (bass), and Tom Davy (vocals).
What are your influences?
Tom Davy, vocals: We draw a lot from the power, traditional, and thrash scenes. While our music definitely has a unique quality, if you listen close and enjoy any of those genres, our influences are pretty obvious.
What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?
Tom Davy: Right now I’ve got the new Omnium Gatherum in the playlist. A new find for me! Highly recommended!
Tim Regan: Plagues of Babylon by Iced Earth. And the new Primal Fear album.
Greg Jones, lead guitar: Writing “Gather, Darkness!” started like a lot of my writing does: with one or two riffs I had lying around and hadn’t yet used for anything. But other than that, it was pretty different from previous material I’d written in that the music and lyrics were almost always simultaneously in development. Before, it was more common for me to complete the music first, then add lyrics later. But this time it seemed natural to be constantly working on both, possibly because it was one of the few instances in which I more or less knew what I wanted out of the lyrical content before anything had been completed. Many of the cadences, vocal melodies, rough drafts of the riffs and fragments of the lyrics were worked out in my head often weeks before any of it was ever written down.
Tim Regan: Typically, either of us will come to the band with a song mostly done. Then as we all learn the song, we will tweak things here and there as needed to improve the songs. With “Gather, Darkness!” we changed very little from what Greg originally presented to us.
What can you tell us about the lyrics and the general concept of it?
Greg Jones: A quick summary of the novel “Gather, Darkness!” is based on: the story is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia in the future, where society is thrown back to the dark ages and most knowledge has only been retained by the elite ruling class. The novel itself tells about the main character, named Jarles, rising through the ranks to expose the fraudulent ways of the rulers and throw himself “headlong into the middle of the greatest holy war the world has ever seen.” I can’t exactly verify that claim; that’s just what the description on the back of the book tells me.
Anyhow, the three parts [following the Overture] are primarily distinguished by their lyrical content. The first, “A Thousand Lies,” is essentially the protagonist’s call to arms for the masses to rise up against their leaders. The second, “To Ruin & Divide,” touches on the different mechanisms by which the “holy war” takes place. The third part, “Breaking the Sanctuary,” is mainly a reflection on the struggle as seen by the main character and about what’s to be learned from it.
In my review I praise the vocals in particular, saying that I was pleased that they were not what I was expecting. How much thought went into the vocal style, or was it just something that came naturally?
Tom Davy: Much of the vocal melodies for “Gather, Darkness!” were in place before I joined Burning Shadows in 2009 so vocally the band had a pretty good idea of what the album should sound like. However, the were generous enough to give me a ton of room to experiment and change melodies, lyrics, and even points of harmony. The only criteria being it must sound good. I readily agreed \m/
The process was very simple, try what came naturally, then work with what we liked and throw out that which failed to melt the requisite number of posers. We all reviewed and offered input every step of the way.
Speaking just for me, I came into Burning Shadows loving the sound and potential of “Gather, Darkness!” so the big focus was “does this suit the album? Is this what’s being called for?” With that in mind we marched on.
Tim Regan: I’m thrilled with how “Gather, Darkness!” came out. Our debut CD “Into the Primordial” was done almost entirely in-house since we had practically no budget. In terms of production, there was definite room for improvement. So when we set out to do “Gather, Darkness!” we upgraded the hardware we use in our studio and completely changed the way we recorded the drums, guitars, and vocals. Then we brought in Kyle Paradis to do the mixing and we were blown away by what he could do with what we gave him. Then when we had Bill Wolf master the album, we could almost see the piles of crushed posers all around us. As the album was developing, it was clear we would need to bring in a great artist to do artwork that can match the album’s grand sound and scope, so we tapped JP Fournier, who has done work for Immortal, Avantasia, and many more. When I first held the final product in my hand, it was almost surreal.
What does the future hold for Burning Shadows?
Tom Davy: Fame, glory, women. Hopefully all at once.
Tim Regan: The two biggest things in the works are another album which we are currently in the midst of recording and an appearance at the Warriors of Metal Fest in June. The latest updates can be found at http://www.burningshadows.com.
Piles of crushed posers indeed.
This is a concept album, (which could probably be gathered from the sub-sectioned song titles alone), and the rather excellent album cover sets the scene perfectly.
The first song Overture – Hymn to Sathanas is all orchestration and builds up to some nice martial pomp that gets the blood pumping and the juices flowing.
After this we’re off into the land of Power Metal for A Thousand Lies – A New Dark Age. The start of this song is nicely written and at this point I remember thinking “so far so good, I just hope it’s not all ruined by a substandard singer”; the idea, of course, that quality music deserves quality vocals, and as I’ve opined about previously the weakest link in Power Metal for me is usually just that – substandard vocals.
When the singer of Burning Shadows does make an entrance I was relieved as it wasn’t the average vocals I was fearing and impressed that he’s also quite different to what I was expecting. He’s more restrained than a lot of Power Metal vocalists, and not as high pitched. Even when really going all out he’s still in control of his voice. It’s refreshing to hear and it makes for a better experience than another band simply fronted by Mr. High-Pitched-Generic-Vocalist-Person.
The music follows the concept and creates a suitable narrative of the story the band wish to tell. The songs combine elements of Power Metal and traditional Heavy Metal and are wonderfully composed. You feel part of the action and it’s easy to get swept away with the passion and excitement the songs elicit.
Everything here is well written, well recorded and well played. Burning Shadows have been an eye opener for me and I’m so happy that there are still bands out there who are doing this kind of music so brilliantly.
One of the best Power Metal albums to darken my door in a long time. Don’t miss this.