Rochester’s power metal powerhouse is back with a brand new EP. For those familiar or unfamiliar, Shadowborn are the artists formerly known as Age of Shadows. Under both names, they’ve been representing heavily European influenced power metal in Western New York. This new EP is hardly an exception; in fact, it’s an improvement. After years of lineup changes, Iron Maiden covers and uncertain times, Shadowborn have taken on their greatest form yet.
Vocalist, Jesse Halstead is a true treasure. It’s so rare to find exceptional power metal vocalists these days and Jesse is a true testament to the genre. Over the years, I’ve heard him cast shades of Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Daniel Heiman (Lost Horizon), Tim “Ripper” Owens (Iced Earth, Judas Priest), John Williams (Necromancing the Stone) and Michael Gremio (Cellador), just to name a few.
One thing both power metal, and past incarnations of Shadowborn have been known for is searing guitars. Thankfully, Keith Goehner and Sean Augustus, the current ax handlers, are more than up to the task. Although, we’re only talking about 4 songs here on End of an Age, the melodies, harmonies and leads just don’t stop. Those who think this style of play is missing from our local scene, need Shadowborn in their lives.
Bassist, Patches O’Brayer, provides the crushing low end and a few mob chants here and there that really bring the album to life. There are several cool vocal dynamics on the EP that overlap classic power metal with subtle hardcore/punk accents. Most of the backup vocals come from guitarist, Keith Goehner- making for some thick vocal layering across the EP. For all this band accomplishes, there’s nothing wrong with a little extra punch.
Drummer, Troy Olmstead is phenomenal. The drums are so tight and crisp both live and on the EP. Every beat choice compliments the corresponding riff perfectly and there’s never a dull moment when it comes to dynamics and tempo changes.
Really, this is what it boils down to: Shadowborn contains 5 stellar musicians who love power metal, understand power metal and play power metal extremely well. Having all 3 of those elements in a band is so crucial.
Do you understand it? Do you love it? Are you good at playing it? Ask yourself those 3 questions at your next band practice.
Normally, I list my top 3 songs, but since there are only 4 songs on End of an Age, I’ll just talk about my single favorite: Track 4- “Follow the Stones”. It’s easily the most exciting song for playing ability and dynamics. The riffs are infectious, there are a few cool rhythm breaks, there’s a great clean guitar section, the vocal melodies soar; it’s just a really fun track.