Corruption Within

Shadow Keep

Limb Music / SPV Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


As much as I enjoy progressive rock, so many bands seem to think that the longer they stretch out their songs, the better they will be. That's why a group like England's Shadow Keep is a cool drink of water on this scene: they seem to know that less can sometimes be more.

Their full-length debut (and second release overall), Corruption Within, features some music which, frankly, works better because this quintet tries to say what they have to in under five minutes. Of the 11 songs here (not including the bonus cover of Queensryche's "Queen Of The Reich" tacked onto the end of "Inner Sanctum"), over half clock in at under the five-minute mark, and one just misses that by two seconds.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, I realize that some of the die-hard prog-heads out there are saying, "Haven't you learned by now that the length of the song means nothing?" Well, yes, I have. But the group - vocalist Rogue M., lead guitarist Chris Allen, rhythm guitarist Nikki Robson, bassist James Daley and drummer Dave Edwards - almost seems able to make their statement without wearing out their welcome - and though the music isn't always the strongest, it is a bold move for them to make.

The one major complaint I have with Corruption Within is that Rogue M.'s vocals often sound like he's not in tune with the rest of the band. These variations on songs like "Murder" tend to throw the listener off, and does weaken the band's power a tad. It's not that he's a bad vocalist; indeed, he sounds a bit like Geddy Lee with a thicker accent (fully understandable, since he's Belgian-born), but it sometimes sounds like he's straining to match what his bandmates are producing.

Musically, Corruption Within has some solid moments, and does hold out more than a gleam of hope for this band in terms of success and fame. Tracks like "Dark Tower," "Alter Of Madness" and "Inner Sanctum" all suggest that Shadow Keep - while still very much a young band, despite the plethora of experience the members bring to the table - is just now beginning to hit their stride. If this is indeed the case, they could well prove to be unstoppable.

This being said, the group still occasionally seems to be trying to find its niche. Some tracks, like "Mark Of The Usurper" and "Cast Out," don't quite hit the target as strongly as one would hope, though I'm having a difficult time pinpointing where things went wrong. Likewise, I'm not going to knock the performances of any of the musicians, but sometimes one finds themselves wishing that there was the occasional keyboard line thrown in. It's just engraved in my head that progressive rock means keyboards have to be somewhere in the mix.

Corruption Within suggests that the best is yet to come from Shadow Keep - and though there are the occasional mis-fires on this disc, it's safe to say that the band is well on their way to hitting their creative peak.

Rating: B-

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© 2001 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Limb Music / SPV Records, and is used for informational purposes only.