Shadow Kingdom – Eyes Of Pain
Shadow Kingdom is a Connecticut-based heavy metal band that favors patriotic themes set to precise riffs over bombastic rhythms. They bring a ton of attitude and fierce loyalty to those things they hold dear, writing personal songs that mean the world to them. The songs are catchy and have messages intended to inspire the listener. You won’t get “fluff and bullshit” from these guys.
- Robert Slater – Vocals
- Gregory Alfonso – Guitars
- Jeff Curtiss – Bass
- Nick Bellmore – Drums
Shadow Kingdom’s debut LP, Eyes Of Pain, was released June 25, 2021, on No Dust Records.
- Eyes Of Pain
- Until Death
- Reject Hell
- Winter Dancers
- Broken Touch
- Awakened In My Mind
- Ugly Truth
- Nightmare Beyond
Eyes Of Pain opens and closes with short instrumental pieces. You start with “Absolution” and end with “Reckoning,” two melodic tracks meant to prepare you for what is to come, then to allow you a few moments to wind down from the high you’ve just ridden for the better part of an hour. The build of “Absolution” uses strings to add to the size of the sound before you get hit with a massive guitar riff.
The title track is second. “Eyes Of Pain” is a heavy metal song that borders thrash with a bit of a hardcore delivery to the vocals. The frenetic tempo of the lyrics and the shifting from clean to distorted vocals is very well done. The increasing speed of the rhythm from the melodic section to the verse, then the drop back to melodic for the chorus, is really solid. The tempo increase is consistent and executed beautifully.
“Until Death” is again heavy but not quite as close to thrashy as the previous song. The drums are hard0hitting and really drive the rhythm hard. The bass cruises along under the dual guitar assault, laying a massive foundation for all the killer guitar work this song has. The leads and the rhythm guitar work are really harmonious, working together to build a wave of sound that washes over the listener while the vocals, including the layering near the chorus, take the ears on a journey.
“Reject Hell” and “Winter Dancer” both have tasty riffs and great hooks. The gritty vocals through the verse of “Reject Hell” with the cleans through the chorus give the song a feel of problem and solution dynamic. “Winter Dancer” is more melodic and with some ballad-like sections, especially in the intro. The shift to heavy a minute in, with the slower drums, matched solidly by the bass, work to amplify one of the slower riffs on the record. Those are even better accented by the step up for the guitar solo that leads to the harshest vocals so far on the record. This is one of the bolder compositions on the record with regard to changes in tempo and overall complexity, and they pull it off beautifully.
“Broken Touch” gets back to more pure heavy metal. This one starts and stays more on the classic metal principle of angry lyrics supported by darker tones and major riffs. The rhythm is a nice galloping pace, carrying the tune from the onset to the conclusion with a combination of finesse and brutality. Only in heavy metal do you find that mixture!
The opening of “Awakened In My Mind” gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my metalhead’s brain. The frenetic delivery of the vocals over one of the crunchier riffs on the album makes me smile, especially when the chorus goes pure melodic and soothes those nerves rubbed raw from that tasty rhythm. The lead guitar work again is well-placed and strikes just the right tone within the song.
“Ugly Truth” and “Nightmare Beyond” stick with the pattern. Melodic phrases in heavy songs, lyrics meant to make you think, and powerfully delivered vocals that evoke emotion. Some of the guitar work in “Nightmare Beyond” gives off a Pantera vibe with the tones used. All of this leads to “Reckoning,” which gives you a chance to reflect on everything you’ve heard, maybe even read if you like to dig into the lyrics.
Shadow Kingdom is a band that uses a lot of patriotic themes in their lyrics, and they realize not everything is okay in paradise. They state their opinion and let you know where they stand. They are all about the love of country without proselytizing for any specific political sect, which allows them to present their views without angering “the other side.” Some albums are meant for pure escapism, but this is not one of them. This record wants you to look at what is happening around you and ask yourself if you are okay with all of it. What do you need to do to make the world a better place?
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9