• 8/10
    SHADOW GALLERY - Prime Cuts - 8/10


Magna Carta
Release date: September 3, 2007

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Whenever a Metal Best Of album is released, one has to raise the question if the world has waited for such a compilation from the respective band at all. What is common practice in Pop music, and very justified since most of the artists in the charts don’t have more quality work to offer than one track or two per album, is a far rarer thing in Metal.

The five regular studio albums of the band are all Prog Rock highlights, and deserve to be in a Prog fan’s collection: Shadow Gallery from 1992, Carved In Stone from 1995, 1998’s Tyranny, and Legacy from 2001. Those four were released on Magna Carta Records, who also are publishing Prime Cuts now, and -– you guessed correctly -– they left out the band’s latest output Room V, which was preceded by a label change to Inside Out Records. Unfortunately, many regard Room V as the best SG album to date, which makes its absence even more regrettable.

Magna Carta chose to put together this album anyway, and one must give them credit for they did a good job with it, especially under the circumstance that many Shadow Gallery tracks, and mostly the progressive highlights of their albums, tend to be rather long: “Cliffhanger” from Carved In Stone is 8:41 minutes long, “The Queen Of The City Of Ice” from the debut album is 17:11 minutes, “First Light” from Legacy clocks in at 34:17 minutes, and “Cliffhanger 2” from the same album at 13:05. Magna Carta had to leave all those tracks out, except for the second part of “Cliffhanger 2,” which is included in an edited version.

Among the 11 tracks previously published are highlights from all of the four releases, with a slight emphasis on Tyranny. With all these emotional, intelligent masterpieces of Rock music to enjoy and be moved by, in total the album is a great deal of fun and may just be what a SG fan may have put together from the Magna Carta years. This is also the reason for the score, as this should reflect the music more than any doubts someone may have about the release policy of labels.

Still, with all the tracks chosen, and they could issue a second volume with 12 more tracks that would be as justly a Best Of as this one is, you’ll find top quality Prog Metal somewhere in the wake of Symphony X, Magellan, Dream Theater, Arena, Spock’s Beard, Fates Warning, and early Queensrÿche. Shadow Gallery may as well be the most underrated band of this genre. But, since there were always several years between their studio albums, and the fans still wait to see a Shadow Gallery tour, it is no surprise that they remained an insider’s tip all these years. Unfortunately, Prime Cuts will not change that much, as another question has to be raised about the target group for this compilation? Aren’t Prog fans always taking a close look at Magna Carta releases, and would they not already have listened to Shadow Gallery before? Or is it really for the old SG fans, and if it is, are two remixes and one unreleased (demo) track really enough to justify the purchase? You be the judge of that…


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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