4 out of 5 Stars!
Back in 2010, I heard about The Shadow Theory, a semi-supergroup including bassist Kristoffer Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), drummer Johanne James (Threshold), guitarist Arne Schuppner (Complex 7), vocalist Buddy “Devon Graves” Lackey (Psychotic Waltz/Deadsoul Tribe), and unknown keyboardist Demi Scott. Therefore, I eagerly snatched up Behind the Black Veil, the multi-national band’s debut album, anticipating a high level of musicianship, yet I didn’t know quite what to expect regarding the music itself and simply wished for the best.
It turns out, the band, while playing a cross between savage Heavy Metal and Folk Metal, with Progressive and Symphonic Metal elements thrown into the mix, sounds rather unique at times. Indeed, imagine a band such as Jethro Tull incorporating a sinister Doom Metal atmosphere into its style, and that’s a fairly apt description of some of the material on offer here. Plus, the addition of Lackey’s occasional flute insertions, acoustic guitar sprinkled throughout, and even a background orchestra on various tracks, just contributes to the illusion.
The song “Selebrate” [sic] is where the Tull influence is in abundance, since the song sounds as if it could have come from a heavier version of the Aqualung, War Child, or Benefit albums. Moreover, the opening track “I Open Up My Eyes,” as well as the bombastic “A Symphony of Shadows,” the eerie “The Black Cradle,” and the atmospheric “A Candle in the Gallery,” are interspersed with Lackey’s flute passages, so again, Tull immediately springs to mind, although one of a dark, thrashy, sinister, and even psychotic nature (just take a gander at the cover art, which mirrors the musical atmosphere). Although Lackey doesn’t sound like Ian Anderson for the most part, there are occasions where some effects are thrown onto his voice and, once again, guess which band comes to mind?—yep, you guessed it, Jethro Tull. And if that wasn’t enough, on the version of the album I have, there’s also a twelfth bonus track of, none other than, Tull’s “Sweet Dreams.” So there!
Regardless, The Shadow Theory is unique if only for the fact that I can’t think of any other “heavy” band that’s so liberally influenced by such a generally “non-heavy” band as Jethro Tull. Of course, other tunes or passages occasionally bring to mind various and diverse Prog-Metal, Doom Metal, or even Stoner Metal groups such as Landskap, Black Symphony, Savage Circus, Orne, and even Pain Of Salvation (no shock there, considering Gildenlöw’s presence), so please don’t be deceived by my “Tull-heavy” review. Nevertheless, if you like the idea of a creepy Prog-Metal version of Tull, with numerous quirky parts included, then you’ll probably enjoy the music on offer here.
Sadly, considering all the years that have passed since the debut’s release, and also that Gildenlöw is now working with For All We Know, it seems likely that Behind the Black Veil may be The Shadow Theory’s sole album. Although I would certainly welcome additional material, I’m unsure if the talented group is still in existence or is now only a memory.