Shadow Realm are a band from Adelaide, South Australia. They formed in early 2012 and consist of Torsha Khan on vocals, Matt Gillick on guitar, Con Koutsouliotias on drums, Tim Robinson on keyboards and Pahl Hodgson on bass. According to their social media, they’re predominantly a metal band with influences from thrash, progressive, power metal, neo-classical, as well as featuring operatic vocals, shredding guitar solos and even some jazz influenced drumming. Now, that’s a description rich with many different styles and elements and that certainly makes me excited to hear what they’ve got in store. So, without further ado let’s find out, with their 2017 release “War of the Archons“.
Kicking it off with the first track, “Prelude – The Arrival“. Deep Piano ushers us into the first track and it’s theatrical and atmospheric. It goes from slow, suspenseful keys into a quick paced cacophony of keys, similar to what you would find in the score of a film during a tense, suspenseful scene. The piano dies down towards the end and finishes the way it started.
Next up, we’re thrown directly into the chaos, with a high-pitched scream pronouncing the title of the song, “Satanic Twin“. Blasting drums and shredding guitar are reminiscent of classic metal. The vocals are chaotic, thematic and as previously said, operatic. Particularly interesting is how the keyboard plays into this song, it works alongside the guitar as they both very swiftly play a flash of notes that synchronize together.
A thrashing guitar riff accompanied by heavy drums opens “Dead Space“, the third song. This song really shows their influence in thrash metal. The vocals chime in with their signature thematic vocal style, as well as high pitched wails similar to what you’d hear in Power Metal, additionally this song showcases some very strange vocal styles. Mid-way through the song there is a killer guitar solo, a real face-melter. “Scream of Darkness“, song number four opens with intense guitar riffs and drum patterns. This song is noticeably more aggressive and “heavy”. We can really see power metal influences here, it’s like if “Heavy Power Metal” were a genre.
“The Awakening” starts off atmospheric, similarly to the prelude. This nine and a half minute song opens with a simple guitar riff accompanied by what sounds like synth, perhaps played on the keyboards. Drums kick in and vocals follow. This song sounds like an anthem for a villain in a stage play. Theatrical, imposing and intimidating in sound. There’s a break in the middle where it mellows out, simply plucking guitar strings, which gives the song a break from the repetition.
A lower point of the album goes to “Moloch’s Domain“, there’s powerful drum beats, thrashing guitar riffs and a theatrical, classic metal vocal style but by this point, this is what you’d expect from the band. There’s not a lot to this song that stands out from what we’ve previously heard, except for some screamed vocals.
The final song, “Shadows From Within” comes thrashing and screaming right out of the gate. Vocals are aggressive and powerful, interesting guitar riffs saturate this song. This song lives up to their chaotic yet theatric nature that’s been established by this album. It’s very much that “Heavy Power Metal” vibe that we got with one of the earlier songs. It’s got a gorgeous solo towards the end of the song which helps serve as a pretty fantastic ending to the album as a whole.