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Shadow Merchant are based in Philadelphia, USA. The band started in 2007 when radiologists/colleagues Dr. Sean Reiter (guitars, lyrics and album concept) and Dr. Paul McGinnis (drums) discovered they both had an affinity for progressive rock. With Howard Whitman on lead vocals and bass and Donald A. Henney Jr. on keyboards the band made their debut album The Tunnel.
Their music reminds me of Spock's Beard, Rush and also somewhat of Saga. The album starts great with instrumental track Alpha, you immediately hear that this band knows how to grab the attention of the listener. The second track Noah really reminds me of early Spock's Beard (when Neal Morse was still in the group). The singing also reminds me of Neal Morse. The third track The Architect has a very Rush-like intro. It's very up tempo and has a very cool vibe. The bass intro in fourth track Selfless Devotion is fantastic. It's a real up tempo and powerful track, and I love the way how the keyboards and guitar cooperate during the solos. I think it's also my favourite track on the album. The fifth track Once is great. It's a very rocky track with a splendid guitar solo and powerful vocals. This would be great as a rock single. The sixth track Mid-Life Crisis is another instrumental track from the album. On this track the band really show's what they are capable of and it has a great guitar solo. The seventh track Judgment Day is my least favourite track from the album. It could have been more spicy in my opinion, despite the good intro. The eighth track Into The Tunnel has a lovely acoustic guitar intro and it's also the longest track on the album. The outro of the track is also very bombastic that ends with a lovely piano part. The ninth track The Kindness Of A Stranger actually starts with a beautiful piano piece and later turns into a great track. It has a very long instrumental intro with catchy riffs. The vocals are very powerful on this track as well and I really love the outro of the track. The tenth and last track Along The Way starts a bit country-like. A real feel good song.
This is an album you can listen to in the background and still draws your attention. It's a bit too long for me sadly, but that doesn't bring down the listening experience. If you're a fan of The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard and Rush, then this album should be in your collection! This band should make more albums for sure! I would also love to see this band perform live.
**** Iris Hidding (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
"...The Tunnel is a terrific amalgam of [Rush and Kansas as influences], full of giant-sounding Lifeson-esque guitar, florid instrumental passages, and gloriously pompous keyboard interjections, notably on 11-minute epic The Kindness Of A Stranger..."
Classic Rock Magazine
"...The Tunnel has a crisp and often Hard Rocking edge that, at times, generates genuine excitement and drives both the music and the listener on..." Fireworks Magazine
..."The record contains all the essential ingredients for a proper classic prog rock album: extended songs, plenty of accomplished musicianship, solos galore, lashings of keys and lots of melodic intent..."
..."Strong, slick and slightly less on pretence than certain other household prog names, the solos and vocals both throw their weight at each other as well as just our ears..."
Excerpts of recent reviews of The Tunnel...
1. Alpha (instr.) 5:39
2. Noah 8:32
3. The Architect 5:18
4. Selfless Devotion 8:05
5. Once 4:39
6. Mid-Life Crisis (instr.) 5:05
7. Judgment Day 5:31
8. Into the Tunnel 13:20
9. The Kindness of a Stranger 11:18
10. Along the Way 5:53
Metalliville review 2014
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