Tag Archives: Shadow of the Sun

Shadow of the Sun – Monument

When I first encountered Shadow of the Sun supporting The Heather Findlay Band in November 2011, they were something of a work in progress. The new project from Dylan Thompson, former guitarist of The Reasoning laid some solid foundations for the future, but at that time there were some aspects that still needed a bit more work.

Just over a year later, their impressive debut album “Monument” sees a lot of hard work honing the arrangements on the road paying off.

The first thing that strikes you is the in-your-face guitars; the album has a huge guitar sound. The overall feel is more hard rock/metal than prog, although it has it’s atmospheric moments, with some subtle and sparing use of keys. Lee Woodmass and Rhys Jones make a very solid rhythm section. Dylan Thompson’s guitar playing has more emphasis on inventive riffs than on solos, although he does cut loose a few times, most notably on “Crimson Flags”.

Matthew Powell handles the vast majority of the lead vocals, reminiscent of Metallica’s James Hetfield in places. Much of the time Dylan Thomson sings harmonies, though I’d have liked to have heard him sing a bit more lead; when he does he’s very effective, his melodic style complementing Matt’s vocals.

The excellent production with the powerful yet clear sound makes for a strong début, and it will be very interesting to hear how this band develops.

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Shadow of the Sun – I’m Coming Home

Welsh rockers Shadow of the Sun, the band formed by Dylan Thompson, formerly of The Reasoning, have released their first video, featuring the song “I’m Coming Home” from their debut album “Monument”.

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2012 Albums of the Year – Part One

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when everyone who fancies themselves as a music critic lists the records that have defined their year.

The usual disclaimers apply, of course. They’re selected from the albums of 2012 that I’ve actually had the chance to hear over the course of the year. It’s also a personal list of albums that have made an impression on me rather than any attempt to declare them the “best” of the year, whatever that might mean. Which is why there are very obscure independent releases alongside heavily-promoted major-label albums.

My self-imposed rules exclude both live albums and studio restatements of past material, although Steve Hackett’s “Genesis Revisited II” and Heather Findlay’s “Songs From The Old Kitchen” deserve mention.

It was going to be a top 20, but once I’d got my list finalised someone went and released a record in the middle of December that really deserved to be on the list. So now it’s a top 21. I’ve given up trying to rank all 21 album in any kind of order, and have gone for grouping them under Good, Great, Superb and Legendary, the last being my album of the year.

So here are the ten Good albums, which form numbers 21 to 12 in the list, ordered alphabetically.

Joe BonamassaDriving Towards The Daylight

Excellent album of guitar-shredding blues-rock from one of the most exciting guitar players of his generation, with electrifying takes on blues standards from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon alongside a handful of original numbers. Yes, the ever-prolific Bonamassa can probably turn out albums like this in his sleep, but that’s just a measure of his talent.

DelainWe Are The Others

A seamless blend of in-your-face metal riffs and chart-friendly pop choruses, featuring the remarkable vocals of Charlotte Wessels, all of which makes it more of a mystery why a major label sat on this record for months before releasing it. If only daytime radio wasn’t afraid of big-sounding guitars.

EnslavedRiitiir

Symphonically-dense wall-of-sound metal which mixes moments of brutal heaviness with a surprising amount of melody. There’s plenty of death-metal growling, but there are also passages that prove how well metal riffs and Gregorian chants go together.

It BitesMap Of The Past

The 80s pop-prog veterans reformed a few years back, with the talented John Mitchell at the helm.  Although the latest album doesn’t quite top 2008′s “The Tall Ships”, it’s still an impressive work that combines emotionally-rich songwriting with all the widdly soloing you could possibly want.

Mermaid KissAnother Country

A move away from the symphonic prog-rock of their previous album “Etarlis”, with a beautiful semi-acoustic record with touches of Americana and gospel. Not many bands have Cor Anglais as a principle lead instrument.

Sankara Guided By Degrees CD ArtworkSankaraGuided By Degrees

An impressive melodic hard rock début from former members of The Bluehorses and The Reasoning. It’s a rich, multilayered record in which Gareth Jones’s excellent vocal performance proves he’s more than capable fronting his own band.

Shadow Of The Sun – Monument

Former Reasoning guitarist Dylan Thompson returns with some prog-tinged hard rock/metal with guitars that go up to Eleven. A record that’s only been out a few days and I’ve only given a handful of listens. But that’s enough convince me it belongs on this list.

Howard SinclairThe Delicious Company of Freaks

Lyric-driven semi-acoustic balladry from the Bristol-based singer-songwriter who supported Panic Room on their November tour. Some memorable songs, with one high point being the spellbinding “These Dark Hills” sung as a duet with Panic Room’s Anne-Marie Helder.

SquackettA Life Within A Day

Two of the most distinctive instrumentalists in the prog-rock world combine their talents for a polished and song-focussed album. At times this collaboration sounds like Steve Hackett with a different bassist, at times it’s Yes with different guitars and vocals. “The Tall Ships” with it’s bass groove and soaring vocal harmonies is a particular highlight.

"I fireball the gazebo"Winter in EdenEchoes of Betrayal

With a great vocalist in Vicky Johnson, the Durham-based band prove if the songwriting is good enough it’s possible to do female-fronted symphonic metal without needing the choirs, orchestras and kitchen sinks of the more extravagant European bands.

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Shadow of the Sun – Monument promo

A promo for the forthcoming album “Monument” by Shadow of the Sun, the new band formed by Dylan Thompson, former guitarist from The Reasoning, and singer Matthew Powell. Here, Dylan Thompson and Matthew Powell talk about how the band came into being and the final steps leading up to their imminent release.

The album is available for pre-order from The Merch Desk.

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Heather Findlay Band – Fibbers, York, 18th November 2011

Heather Findlay made début as a solo artist with a full band with a couple of festival appearances back in August. After an acoustic support slot for Touchstone in October, she came to Fibbers in her home town of York as the second date of her much-anticipated first tour as a headline act.

The venue was packed. Her former band Mostly Autumn were playing their annual home town showcase at The Grand Opera House the following night, which encouraged many fans to make a weekend of it and take in both shows. And it was nice to see her former Mostly Autumn band-mates Bryan Josh, Olivia Sparnenn, Anne-Marie Helder and Angela Gordon in the audience.

Support came from Shadow of the Sun, the new project featuring Dylan Thompson, formerly of The Reasoning, on lead guitar. They played a tight high-energy hard rock set which showed a lot of promise for the future. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more of these guys in the coming months.

The atmosphere was electric with anticipation by the time Heather and her band hit the stage and launched into the title track of “The Phoenix Suite”. This was Heather in full-on rock mode. The full band shows delivered a very different experience to the acoustic sets with Chris Johnson supporting Touchstone, even though a lot of songs were common to both.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, the lengthy and varied set proved Heather still has all that magic from her time in Mostly Autumn. She’s assembled a very talented band. Alongside multi-instrumentalist Chris Johnson, Dave Kilminster’s guitar playing is a great example of restrained virtuosity, acting as a foil for Heather’s lead vocal without overplaying, and Steve Vantsis and Alex Cromarty make for a powerful rhythm section. The end result felt far more like a band than a solo artist backed by anonymous session musicians. Having the best sound mix I’d heard at any gig at Fibbers since refurbishment didn’t hurt either.

On the songs from The Phoenix Suite the band kept close to the original arrangements, although all the songs benefited greatly from a thicker guitar sound, with “Seven” particularly memorable. The only significant change was Dave Kilminster’s playing the sort of melodic and expressive solo on “Mona Lisa” that I’d loved to have heard on the original record.

The rest of the set consisted of Heather’s older songs, many of them radically reworked. Rather than play all of the obvious standards like “Evergreen”, they took us on a tour of less well-known highlights from her songbook, drawing heavily from Mostly Autumn’s “Heart Full of Sky” and “Glass Shadows”, including many songs seldom, or in some cases never before played live.

Without the walls of keys, there was a lot more space in the arrangements, with Dave Kilminster’s guitar taking flute and clarinet lines in songs like “Caught in a Fold” and “Blue Light”. An acoustic interlude with upright bass, mandolin and ukelele(!) featured a surprisingly funky take on Odin Dragonfly’s “This Game” and a great version of Mostly Autumn’s “Unoriginal Sin”. In contrast, Odin Dragonfly’s “Magpie” turned into a full-on rock number complete with a shredding solo at the end.

The encores began just Heather accompanied by Chris on piano, with a medley of “Broken”, a few bars of “Carpe Diem” leading into “Bitterness Burnt” and a deeply moving “Paper Angels”, which saw the band return for the closing section. They left us with what had become one of Heather’s signature songs, a mesmerising “Shrinking Violet”.

Playing a full-length headline set with only a five song EP’s worth of new material was always going to be a bit of a risk, but the completely fresh takes on the older songs made for a great gig. Significantly, they played a set made up largely from Mostly Autumn songs without sounding much like Mostly Autumn at all. It’s a show unlikely to be repeated once Heather has written and recorded more new songs, so catch it while you can at the last two dates on the tour, at The Borderline on the 26th, and The Robin in Bilston the following night.

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Heather Findlay’s November Tour

Announcement today from Heather Findlay

The Heather Findlay Band are excited to announce our debut headline tour will take place this November!!!

At just 5 carefully selected UK shows with an elite band formed from the upper echelon of the rock world; Dave Kilminster (Roger Waters, Keith Emerson, John Wetton), Chris Johnson (Halo Blind, Fish, Mostly Autumn ), Steve Vantsis (Fish, KT Tunstall, Horse) and Alex Cromarty (who has worked with the likes of Steely Dan, Groove Armada and Dodgy) will be hitting the road to perform a specially crafted set featuring songs both old and new!

The material we have chosen to perform will span my work with both Mostly Autumn and Odin Dragonfly, presenting revitalised versions of near forgotten gems and will of course feature my debut record The Phoenix Suite!!!

We are also delighted to tell you that awesome band Shadow of The Sun will be joining us each night as very our special guests!!!

17th Nov – The Brook, Southampton;
18th Nov – Fibbers, York;
19th Nov – The Classic grand, Glasgow;
26th Nov – The Borderline, London;
27th Nov – The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton.

For tickets and all information please visit: www.heatherfindlay.net

Tickets for the tour have been on sale for a while, and I’d recommend you order tickets early for the York and London shows – both are in smallish venues and could well sell out.

Shadow of The Sun is an unexpected but very appropriate choice as support. Formed by Dylan Thompson, formerly of The Reasoning, their hard-edged guitar-based sound isn’t a million miles removed from the musical direction of Heather’s The Phoenix Suite.

If The Heather Findlay band are anything like as good live as they were at The Cambridge Rock Festival, this should be a great little tour.

See you there!

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Shadow of the Sun

Shadow of the Sun now have an official website.

Shadow of the Sun is the new project formed by Dylan Thompson, formerly guitarist and vocalist from Reasoning. and singer/guitarist Matthew Alexander Powell.  The rhythm section of Rhys Jones and Lee Woodmass complete the four-piece lineup.

They’ve put a few demos on their website. Although there are a few echoes of Dylan Thompson’s songwriting for The Reasoning in places, the overall sound is a lot different, far rawer and almost punky in places. Follow the link and listen for yourself!

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