Light & Shade is a new collaboration between three young and extremely talented musicians from the USA and Europe (and one guest drummer from Germany!). The band seemingly came out of nowhere to create, in my opinion, a frontrunner for debut album of 2016.
The band features guitarist Marco Pastorino of Secret Sphere and Temperance, bassist Luca Negro of Temperance, guest drummer Alex Landenburg of Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, and a relative newcomer to the international metal scene,
Adrienne Cowan, metal vocalist, composer, and orchestrator, best known for her work in theatrical metal band Seven Spires and for American hard rock/metal band FirstBourne.
For those who are not familiar with Cowan, In 2013, she moved from the UK to Boston, MA to study composition at Berklee College of Music after receiving the Lollapalooza-endowed full academic scholarship. From there, she guest screamed with Swedish metal band Amaranthe, collaborated with Brazillian guitarist Mike Kerr (Best Rock Performance 2016 at the International Portuguese Music Awards), and has shared a bill with countless bands including Arch Enemy, Apocalyptica, Sonata Arctica, Flesghod Apocalypse, Carach Angren, Dark Tranquility, Insomnium, and many more.
At the young age of 21 Cowan has already had a wealth of studio and live experience with Seven Spires, receiving accolades from none other than Sascha Paeth (Avantasia, Kamelot, Epica, Rhapsody) who called Cowan One of the few new real personalities in metal. This is high praise indeed from one of the most renown producers in the world of symphonic power metal. Paeth is also currently working on Seven Spires full-length debut album.
If I was going to describe Cowan’s vocals to someone who has never had the opportunity to do so, I would compare her to Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy but with more melody in her clean vocals.
The debut album from Light & Shade was produced by in demand producer Simone Mularoni of DGM and will be released by Scarlet Records on November 18, 2016 and it is destined to become a favorite among the fans of prog and power metal. The name of the band is perfect for this album as there are lighter shades and darker ones to keep each in perfect balance.
The intro track Essence of You is a dark, yet tender piano duet between Pastorino and Cowan to set the stage of what is to come. Drown In The Absurdity is a powerful, heavy symphonic power metal song with Landenburg’s machine gun style double bass drumming, razor sharp riffs, and Cowan’s guttural growling during the verses and melodic soaring choruses. Cowan has an uncanny knack for being able to switch from the evil sounding shrieking and soaring high melodic vocals building with intensity and power throughout the song.
Spirit of Anne is a more traditional melodic metal song with harmony guitar leads and galloping rhythms. Cowan’s melodic vocals are on full display on this very catchy symphonic metal powerhouse.
Another headbanger of a song is Burned, which has symphonic undertones and progressive leanings, neo-classical guitars, and a touch of black metal blast beats that make it a standout track.
The band adds a different flavor to the album with the gaelic, folk-metal song You Are, which has a Nightwish influence both with the music as well as the back and forth duet between Pastorino and Cowan.
Meet Me In Summer has a very interesting intro both with the instrumentation as well as the chanting vocals that immediately make you take notice. Cowan’s melodic side takes control here with some ear-piercing shrieks to show off her incredible vocal range. The chorus is an absolute masterpiece filled with soaring melodies and harmonies and is one of my favorites on the album.
Brokenhearted has a mid-tempo intro that has a majestic, almost regal feel and leads into a flurry of riffs and thundering drums. Cowan once again shows a knack for incredibly moving and memorable melody lines during the chorus.
The band slows things down on the melancholy Lionhearted, a beautifully sung acoustic ballad with Cowan’s bright and shining vocals sending shivers down the listeners’ spine.
Wander So Far starts with a clean guitar sound but quickly turns on the power with chugging guitar rhythms and amazing drumming of one of the greats, Mr. Landenburg as well as Negro forming a formidable rhythm section. Cowan’s growling vocals once again sound incredibly strong and blend well with the melodic catchy chorus.
Welcome The Cold is a mid-tempo heavy song with Cowan using her clean vocals to great effect. The song relies on powerful melodies and orchestrations to create another amazing track. Pastorino has some incredible lead guitar work here as well.
The albums final song and title track is also its longest and its most progressive as well with stop on a dime tempo changes. The musicianship is stellar with a cinematic feel to it as Cowan’s vocals envelop the listener with her charming and melodic tones and Pastorino adds his considerable vocal talents to duet with Cowan once again and add another layer to an already powerful song. The song has another chanting chorus of “whoas” that are reminiscent of classic Iron Maiden. The song ends with a sort of reprise of the album intro to bring things full circle and a fitting way to end the album.
When I first heard about Light & Shade I was intrigued to say the least, but The Essence of Everything took all my expectations and totally blew them out of the water! Get ready to hear much more in the future from this incredible new band!