Friday 25 October 2019

Shadow Weaver - Shadow Weaver (2019)

Country: Canada
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 9/10 (originally 8/10)
Release Date: 11 Oct 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook

I wish I knew more about Shadow Weaver. They hail from Calgary, way up there in the frozen wastes of northern Canada, and I presume that this EP is their debut release, but that's about it. They have a Bandcamp page and a Facebook one too, neither of which tells us much about the band. Who's in it and when did they get together? I have no idea, though I'd like to know.

I'd also like to see them cite their influences because, while they do claim to be influenced by the seventies, they don't say who and it isn't the usual suspects. There's no more Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or Black Sabbath than in any rock band nowadays. They don't sound like Judas Priest, as so many do in 2019. Musically, they remind of early Iron Maiden, but they may have sourced their intricate twin guitar attack from the source, namely Wishbone Ash.

To me, this is heavy Wishbone Ash in the way that so many NWOBHM bands tried to be. It's faster and more urgent, ditching all the quiet and introspective moments but keeping all the intricate solos, fills and time changes that we know and love from the first couple of Maiden albums. I'd raise Diamond Head too because there are riffs on top of riffs, but Shadow Weaver are too punky in attitude for that to be truly fair.

The vocals feel older school, more sourced in the seventies than the NWOBHM bands that copied them. They're done in an emotional operatic style, but not with a voice that's showing off. This singer isn't trying to be Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson. At points, it sounds like he's crying the vocals as much as singing them. Given that the guitars are so clearly the focus, I'd think that this singer isn't even really trying to be a singer. I'd bet money that he also plays bass or one of those guitars and that's the role he thinks of himself in.

There's some psychedelia as the final song gets underway, but it ends up in the same sort of place, with Maiden's Phantom of the Opera springing quickly to mind at points. This final song is only the fourth on offer, which is the biggest problem with this release. Give me four tracks like these and I want another half dozen! We have to make do with a mere seventeen minutes, though I'm hoping that this will be successful enough to prompt a full length album soon.

I've had this playing on repeat for a couple of hours and, frankly, I can't pick a favourite track. All four are easily worthy of that honour. Even with the first couple, Horizon and Mind's Eye, ending under the four minute mark, they kick off as they mean to go on with guitar solos, because why the heck not? The latter is all melody and gallop and, if it isn't the single, it's a logical choice. Holy Woman builds on riffs rather than solos and fills four minutes well before the longer self-titled closer, presumably an anthem for the band, wraps it all up.

Googling for Shadow Weaver just gives me gigs in Calgary, where they seem to play support to bands like Chron Goblin, Black Mastiff and the Well. Either Calgary is kicking serious ass right now or those guys are getting blown off the stage, because there's no way that Shadow Weaver are this good on record without coming at least close to it on stage as well. Calgary's only sixty degrees cooler than Phoenix right now. It's tempting!

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