By: Amanda Caines
Rock may be dead to the mainstream music world, but if rock-starved listeners dare to convert to the “dark side” of unsigned hard rock, Shadow of Myself’s “Hail to the Underdog” is one of the albums that signals to the world that hard rock is alive and well.
From the CD’s very first soaring chords and marching snare drum cadence in the opening title track, I can almost picture the army of “underdogs” marching up in the distance to battle the huge, oppressive forces holding them down — and then the bottom drops out into high-energy southern metal riffage. That catchy chorus is guaranteed to get stuck in my head, with a great hook, cool guitar licks, and a strong lyric message rooting for the underrated powerhouses of the world. It’s a great starting song, and the perfect title track for the album.
The next few tracks keep the Aerosmith-meets-Avenged-Sevenfold grooves going, blending classic rock-esque, blues-based riffage and guitar solos with modern metal rhythms and aggressive melodic vocals. “Sin ‘n’ Skin” especially has the classic rock vibe and subject matter, which I dig. Just when I start to think, “Ah, I know what kind of album this is,” — BAM! — they throw in the pop-rockish “Supraliminal,” which provides that power ballad feel we all miss from the songs of the 80s, but this time with better lyrics.
“Alone” is probably the most metal track on the record, boasting an awesome dual guitar harmony lick, and a super-heavy, china-cymbal-smashing breakdown part that just makes me wanna throw the horns and headbang. While the “Hail to the Underdog” CD has already run the gamut on the heavier side of rock, the second-to-last track, “Shallow Graves” continues the sonic journey to a lighter side of rock without losing even a drop of intensity. Acoustic guitar and cello adorn this track with as much feeling as the full-on electric songs, and those sounds combine with the lyrics to produce a really powerful song.
A perfect send-off song, “The Devil Within” pulls out all the stops and gives us an epic ending to a well-written, well-performed, and highly polished full-length record. A glockenspiel and the sounds of wind introduce the song, setting a theatrical mood for what’s to come. Gaining momentum throughout the song and adding strings instrumentation brings the song to a boil, then simmers down gracefully to flamenco-sounding guitar solo outro that fades out as the underdog completes his mission.
Start-to-finish, Shadow of Myself’s “Hail to the Underdog” packs a ton of punches from all different angles in the Hard Rock subgenre with shredding guitar work, intense and dynamic vocals, and infectious grooves. The band has arranged an overall fantastic collection of songs so that they all flow naturally into one another — an obviously well-planned and cohesive record that’s captivating enough to hold listeners’ ever-shortening attention spans for a full-length disc. Definitely grab one when the album drops 11.29.2014.
Go to the CD Release Party November 29 at Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte, NC: https://www.facebook.com/events/969688659713521/