Shadow Host is a Russian power metal band from Moscow that has been around for twenty years now, and just released its fifth studio album, Apocalyptic Symphony. Musically, the band is often compared to Blind Guardian for its epic tracks, Primal Fear for its classic eighties’ influences, or Metalium for its more speed metal-orientated sounds, but I would say the band sounds closest to Iced Earth. If you like any of these bands, you should also dig the best parts of this release.
Many songs on this record are a matter of taste of course. The power metal here sounds much more American than European, and includes some ballsy speed and even ferocious thrash metal elements. Unfortunately, some tracks sound very alike as well. Just to give you an idea, the closer “Apocalypse Within” sounds like a bastard influenced by early Metallica and Blind Guardian records, and the shouted pre-chorus is something I would expect from early Anthrax. From time to time, I like these rawer sounds, but in general I’m much more a fan of European power metal sounds with a progressive twist.
On the other side, the record really offers two tracks that stand out for me. “Divide And Rule” is varied, with a darker atmosphere and some heavy mid-tempo riffs, as well as menacing bass guitar play. The charismatic vocals are not a far cry from Ashes of Ares’ Matt Barlow or Rebellion’s Michael Seifert. My favorite song is the epic and melodic half-ballad “Seeds Of Sorrow”, which reminds me of a Metallica or a Bruce Dickinson solo record. The harmonious acoustic guitars and the vocal performance (which finds just the right place between rawness and melody) are both amazing. The whole thing is crowned by a touching and unforgettable chorus worthy of an anthem. In times like these, I even feel that the song has a harmonious and warm Christmas touch, without sounding cheesy at all. This is definitely one of my favorite songs of the year.
Apocalyptic Symphony will be physically released by the end of December, but if you can’t wait to give the entire record a few spins, don’t hesitate to check out the band’s Bandcamp page.