“The Shadow Cabinet” by Wuthering Heights

Artist: Wuthering Heights
Title: “The Shadow Cabinet”
Label: Sensory Records
Release Date: 1/17/2007
Genre: Symphonic Power Metal
Rating: 4/5

If you’re longing for some speedy drumming, lightning guitar riffing and vocals that are as resounding as a call to battle then Denmark’s own Wuthering Heights are just what the doctor ordered to cure your ills. Their fourth album “The Shadow Cabinet” wastes little time in knocking the doors down in proper Power Metal fashion but right off the bat it’s interesting to hear how the band uses many elements more commonly found in that of Folk Metal. The other standout point is that lead singer Nils Patrik Johansson sounds very much like the legendary Ronnie James Dio and offers the listener some sense of familiarity even if they have never heard anything by the band before. With all of these factors working together the Danes are able to execute some truly epic tunes that are very difficult to remain standing still during. They also decided to change their pattern with this album as instead of connecting the releases as they had during their first three recordings this one would be comprised of songs that stood proudly on their own. During a number of them I felt twinges of old Blind Guardian coming into play and when you listen to tunes like “Faith” and “Seize The Night” I am sure that many of you would agree. “Envy” has a strong Celtic feel to it at point and I always love the way that sound comes across in heavy music but the track also switches gears at several other instances which make it a little difficult to label as one particular genre focused tune.

The amazing thing that I was finding about Wuthering Heights on this one was not only their ability to blend the Folk and the Power so effortlessly but also in the way they upped the ante to include a little bit of Symphonic as well. Another favorite was “Carpe Noctem” and most specifically for its clever chorus phrase of “if you cannot seize the day, seize the night”. Johansson is impressive across every track and I expected this from a singer who also found time to work with bands such as Lion’s Share and Astral Doors at the same time. The other members of the band are Erik Ravn (guitars/keyboards & group founder), Martin Arendal (guitars), Andreas Lindhall (keyboards), Teddy Moller (bass), and Morten Gade Sorensen (drums) who all demonstrate a serious tightness in their playing on the release and so much was this the case that as the album completed I was one satisfied Metal maniac. If you are one of those who lean to any of the genres that they blend together then this is a great album for you to investigate a little bit further into. There is a live feel to their material that many bands don’t seem to be able to pull off on a studio album and for that I commend them.

The band also includes a live performance CD with this album as a bonus disc and it features the bands appearance at The ProgPower V Festival in 2004 which was actually their very first US appearance as well. The listener should be advised that this is not some pristine and remixed recording but instead a sort of high quality bootleg. It’s the kind of recording that a fan of the band would end up being glad to have based on the appearance, the festival and its place in the bands overall history. There are seven songs included on this so it’s not just a sample of what went down but instead the full set that they performed that day. One can’t go wrong with that as a bonus in my opinion. The CD comes in a standard jewel case and includes a booklet with all of the lyrics for the tunes. It was produced by Tommy Hansen, who has worked with the likes of Helloween, TNT, and Circus Maximus, and that gives this an added sonic edge when it comes down to it.

With “The Shadow Cabinet” I feel that Wuthering Heights shows that they are a powerful presence on a scene that is approaching some sense of overflowing based on the amount of bands that are coming out and calling themselves “Power Metal”. Fortunately for us all these guys choose to mix it up instead of giving us the same old thing. Discovery lies ahead on this one.

Track Listing:
1. Demon Desire
2. Beautifool
3. Raven
4. Faith – Apathy Divine, Pt. 1
5. Envy
6. Snow – Apathy Divine, Pt. 2
7. Sleep
8. I Shall Not Yield
9. Reason..?
10. Carpe Noctem – Seize The Night

Live Bonus CD:
1. Tree
2. Longing For The Woods, Pt. 1
3. Longing For The Woods, Pt. 2
4. Lost Realms
5. Bad Hobbits Die Hard
6. Hunger In The Dark
7. Highland Winds

Official Website: http://www.wuthering-heights.dk

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