SHADOWQUEST – Armoured IV Pain (2015)
A new Swedish beast has born: SHADOWQUEST, a supergroup of sorts with its members combining a great amount of experience both past and present in the metal field.
Their strangely titled “Armoured IV Pain” CD debut is being released today (January 26th), what it’s not strange at all is the quality delivered through these 11 songs.
ShadowQuest’s impressive personnel includes Jari Kainulainen (Masterplan, Devil’s Train, Evergrey) on bass, Kaspar Dahlqvist (former Dionysus, hard rockers Nation) playing keyboards, Patrik Johansson (Bloodbound, Dawn of Silence) helming the lead vocals, Peter Huss (Shining, former Sinergy) / Ragnar Widerberg (Witherscape, Saint Deamon) teaming up on guitars, plus Ronny Milianowicz (Sinergy, Dionysus) holding down the fort on drums.
Together they cook the proven formula for an amazing melodic, groovy power metal band: creative songwriting, stellar vocals, outstanding solos, mood enhancing keyboards, and more hooks than a coat rack.
If you come into ShadowQuest expecting that European melodic metal has now been completely overhauled, you will be sadly disappointed.
What you will find is that elements borrowed from the band members’ past history and those of the greats who came before make “Armoured IV Pain” an incredibly enjoyable, memorable, and exciting debut.
On its face, you may gloss over “Armoured IV Pain” with the thought that it’s all been done before and there aren’t enough new ideas brought to the table.
Well, if you dissect the songs carefully, there are clear nuances like beefier grinding riffs that create original heavy atmospheres, fluid natural time changes, and terrific melodic bridges and choruses.
The entire album is bound together by Dahlqvist’s ear popping – but not mega-overpowering – keyboard work, and Johansson’s vocals that transcend any other singer not named Rob Halford.
First off, the outstanding “Where Memories Grow” – with its punchy riff and symphonic power chorus tops the list of the album’s best tracks. “Blood of the Pure” is a perfect opener – providing power and melody that sets the tone for the album.
“We Bring Power” is the heaviest of the lot, showcasing those monster riffs from Huss / Widerberg. “All One” is the prototypical Euro metal tune, borrowing so heavily from Johansson’s Bloodbound that its nearly indistinguishable. His vocals on this track alone are a clinic on effortless delivery, perfect pitch and outstanding range.
Patrik is by far in the upper echelon of metal vocalist both present, past, and likely future.
“Live Again” is pretty awesome, representing the band’s tribute to ex-Stratovarius guitarist Timo Tolkki, who had assisted drummer Ronny Milanowicz – also the producer of the album – during the production. Internally, the band calls the track “Anima Mundi, Part II.”
“Where Memories Grow” changes the pace a bit, beginning with a beautiful piano solo to start it off, and is then joined by a more orchestral paralleling introduction with a lighter entry by the rest of the band to accompany the grand entrance. This song has a more tempered 12/8 feel to the time, and carries a poignant sense to the melody and the lyrics.
“Freewheel Burning” is the final song on the digital release of the album, and a cover of the Judas Priest song, a la ShadowQuest style. This version is fairly close to the original, with a slightly updated sound with their own signature approach.
This remake is a worthy homage to the band, especially since ShadowQuest’s sound could be easily compared to that of Judas Priest, so this bonus track is a nice nod to their musical predecessors (and contemporaries).
“Armoured IV Pain” is a stellar debut, with a stellar cast of musicians. While they don’t break many boundaries and stick to the European melodic metal formula, they don’t apologize for it… and pull off incredible performances to boot.
With masterful production by Milanowicz (the crisp sound is awesome), this album easily could rival the last Allen / Lande recording.
Very Recommended for all audiences.
01. Blood Of The Pure
02. Last Farewell
03. All One
04. Live Again
05. Midnight Sun
06. Reach Beyond The Dream
07. We Bring Power
08. Insatiable Soul
09. Take This Life
10. Where Memories Grow
11. Freewheel Burning (Judas Priest cover)
Patrik Johansson (Bloodbound) – Vocals
Peter Huss (Shining, ex-Sinergy) – Guitars
Ragnar Widerberg (Witherscape) – Guitars
Jari Kainulainen (Masterplan, Devil’s Train) – Bass
Kaspar Dahlqvist (Nation, ex-Dionysus) – Keyboards
Ronny Milianowicz (ex-Dionysus, Sinergy) – Drums
BUY IT !