Shadow Gallery, Dark Nova, Wastefall // Kuttaro Club, Athens, Greece // 13.10.13
A band made out of our wildest dreams and two support bands I hadn’t seen in years. Which better reason to attend a gig in a warm October night? Three years after their first phenomenal visit in Greece, Americans progsters Shadow Gallery came back to finish what they had started in 2010. The show was promising from the very beginning with the announcement of the support bands, Greek heavy progsters Wastefall and heavy/power metallers Dark Nova, and having seen Wastefall supporting Black Sabbath in 2005 and Dark Nova playing with bands like Rage and Testament before even the ‘00s decade, I knew what to wait from two of the most important bands of our country which for various reasons, never got the attention and publicity they deserved.
Seven minutes after eight o’clock, Wastefall entered the stage and it was a great joy to see nothing changing compared to what I knew. The quartet delivered really heavy progressive metal, mainly based on the marvellous ‘’Soulrain 21’’ album, with touches from their latest internet release ‘’Meridiem’’. Their singer was about to audition for Ark once if I’m not wrong and he showed us all how it is to be able and play great riffs and have a voice that fits the genre. The best thing about this band is that despite being a progressive one, they are even heavier than you can imagine and they are the best possible answer to progsters who sacrifice their heaviness in order to sound more mellow or emotional. Wastefall can sound like everything you want from a modern thinking metal band with a very traditional way of acting on the stage and without forgetting to power it up when needed. I also liked the use of cymbals of their drummer, the guy hit everything and he adds a lot to their sound. I hope they’ll be releasing stuff more often and they won’t miss a second chance given to them to become real leaders in the Greek scene.
Dark Nova came out with the air of the experienced band and even if the sound in the first two tracks was burying the heavy riffs somehow, the continuation was much better. They have a bassist that is the epitome of his organ, a seven string monster which looks very much like the eight string guitars Meshuggah are using. Together with the help of the relentless pounding of the drummer, they created a rhythm section many bands would be jealous about. The guitarist was always pulling new riffs from his chest and the lady in the keyboards showed how it must be to have a woman in your band. She was not just standing like a primadonna like many other ladies in bands do, but she was also headbanging while playing, showing a real metal attitude. Last but definitely not least comes the singer who helps the band and delivered a great performance. Highlights of the night were ‘’Twilight Star’’ (from the legendary ‘’Dark Rhapsodies’’ debut), ‘’Temptation’’ from the ‘’1999-A Step Beyond’’ album) and for the end, the ‘’Dark Nova’’ track which is also the title of their latest album. After forty five minutes and with the joy painted on their faces, knowing they had done the best they could and getting the applause of the crowd, they left the stage and we were ready for Shadow Gallery.
Time for magic, time for joy, time to forget all our problems, though we suspected it, we didn’t imagine it would be in such a scale. Shadow Gallery made such a performance once again that they make you believe in God, in music’s power around the world and in a better tomorrow in general. If the first time we saw them is marked as most special in our hearts, then this second visit of theirs is simply the establishment of their talent, of the transmission of countless feelings through their music and of their undisputed skill to sound even better than in their six wonderful albums. In a band where every member is a protagonist and three of them switch from guitars, keyboards and singing, then I don’t know what else someone else could expect. When Brian Ashland says ‘’this is our home’’ just at the very beginning of the show, you understand how happy they felt for coming back. When they play ‘’Don’t Ever Cry, Just Remember’’, you get the feeling that Mike Baker is up there, watching proudly his friends getting recognized in front of people amazed with the band’s shine on the stage. When they play ‘’Alaska’’ they remind us that they can offer surprises as well, when they play ‘’Pain’’ you can see why Ashland is a very expressive singer and why their latest album ‘’Digital Ghosts’’ can look the other five albums straight in the eyes.
When you know they’re going to celebrate fifteen years from the release of ‘’Tyranny’’ you expect them to unleash hymns like ‘’Stilleto In The Sand’’, ‘’War For Sale’’, ‘’Mystery’’, you even expect the guest D.C. Cooper to give an extra touch to ‘’New World Order’’ or ‘’Christmas Day’’, but you don’t imagine how much of a chemistry there is between them and the Royal Hunt frontman, about ten minutes are enough to witness the difference with his presence and the gig boosting up in colossal levels of musicianship, like watching the greatest theater performing flawlessly in front of you, like seeing something of the Savatage magic in their music (the show started with ‘’Bohemian Rhapsody’’ of Queen on the speakers, like Savatage did with other Queen tracks), you don’t expect they’ll give you a die-hard moment like ‘’2 Minutes To Midnight’’ of Iron Maiden played in a furious way (I wish Iron Maiden could sound even a bit like this today…) and when the gig closes with ‘’Gold Dust’’ with Ashland singing among the crowd and ‘’Crystalline Dream’’, you simply realize that all you lived for more than two hours was reality and not a dream. They thank the crowd collectively, though the crowd should spend years in thanking them for what they offer. You see the joy in their faces and they see the tears in the faces of many fans. The relationship between Shadow Gallery and the Greek fans can’t even be compared with the movie made loves at first sight (include first listening as well).
This night we forgot about problems, thoughts, internal conflicts, crisis and needless argues between us. This night we were free to feel happy again, like we did five, ten, fifteen years ago with such incidents. This night was added to one of the best in our entire lives until we close our eyes. There’s nothing more precious than this. Thank you Shadow Gallery for making this all happen and for letting us understand that this better second time you came here was the reason to realize that the first time was really true and not just a thought in our minds. I bet a fortune that it’s going to be a day set for many people to re-arrange their lives and think of many stuff from the beginning. Food for positive thought definitely!
Report: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras
Photos: Sofia Koutsonika