Tag Archives: Shadow of the Sun

The Panic Room Weekend – Day One

Panic Room Weekend

In addition to their regular gigs of 2016, Panic Room decided to do something rather different and far more ambitious at Bilston’s Robin 2. Taking a similar format to the successful and now legendary Marillion weekends, they booked the venue for two full days. They would play a headline set each night, with an array of support acts all of whom had some connection to the band. With an afternoon start and five sets each day, it amounted to a Panic Room-curated mini-festival.

Things kicked off with a solo set from Alex Cromarty, best known as a drummer in more bands you can count, but here performing as a singer-songwriter. He began with a great cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” leading into as set of largely original songs from his forthcoming solo album.

Morpheus Rising have supported Panic Room many times, and were originally planning to play a full electric set. But unfortunately their drummer exploded in a freak gardening accident, or something like that. So Simon Wright and Pete Harwood instead played as a stripped down acoustic duo. It says a lot about the quality of their songwriting that material written for twin guitar metal works in this format, even though Simon’s vocals sometimes came over a little fragile. But the highlights were a couple of completely new songs, both of which came over extremely well. The band have both an acoustic and a new electric album in the pipeline, and at least one of those new songs is to appear on both.

Panic Room Weekend

Shadow of the Sun were a very late addition to the bill. They’ve been away a long time and been through a few changes, with the departure of their original bassist, frontman Matthew Powell now doubling up on bass. and a new second guitarist Matt O’Connell bringing them back to a quartet. Unfortunately Matt couldn’t make the gig for urgent family reasons, so hats off to stand-in Lewis Spencer who came in at very short notice and played what must have been largely improvised lead guitar parts without any rehearsal. Playing a mixture of songs from their four-year old début “Monument” and brand-new material, their blend of metal and alternative rock is still something of a work in progress, though Matthew Powell is considerably less awkward on stage now he has a bass to play. Dylan Thompson is starting to look like a younger Mikhael Åkerfeldt, and the couple of times he launched into solos he sounded a little like Åkerfeldt too. It will be interesting to see how this band develop, and how they sound with their proper guitarist.

Halo Blind are part of the Panic Room family, since both Anne-Marie Helder and Gavin Griffiths were members of the first incarnation of the band, though they’re now one of the many bands with Alex Cromarty behind the drums. They impressed a lot supporting The Heather Findlay band back in April. Tonight saw them lift things to another level in intensity. Again the bulk of the set came from their most recent album “Occupying Forces”, and it was a thing of mesmerising atmospheric beauty, with fragile vocal melodies and swirling effects-laden psychedelic guitar. Anne-Marie guested on “The Dogs” from the first album, which proved one just highlight of many. This had to be one of the best sets they’ve played to date.

Panic Room Weekend

Then it was time for Panic Room themselves for the first of their two headline sets of the weekend. They proceeded to pull out all the stops with a spectacular set including material from across all four albums. There were many of the usual favourites; “Apocalypstick”, “5th Amendment”, the jazzy “Chameleon” with Anne-Marie’s flute solo, and the hard rocking “Hiding the World” An acoustic interlude included the arrangements of “Song for Tomorrow” and “Screens” from the unplugged album “Essence”. They finished the main set with an epic “Nocturnal” before encoring with “Sandstorms” and covers of All About Eve’s “Road to your Soul” and Led Zep’s “Kashmir”. This was a roof-lifting performance even by Panic Room’s standards, and with so many of the regular standards in the set it left you wondering what they were saving for the second night.

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Shadow of the Sun added to Panic Room Convention

Panic Room have announced Shadow of the Sun as the final band for the Panic Room Weekend in May. They will be playing on Saturday May 21st.

The band have been rather quiet of late, but are back with a new lineup featuring Matt O’Connell John on guitar, and will be playing some brand new material alongside songs from their 2012 debut “Monument”

Aside from the two headline sets from Panic Room themselves, the weekend now includes the following:

  • Sarah Dean
  • Alex Cromarty
  • The Dave Foster Band
  • Halo Blind
  • Kiama
  • Morpheus Rising
  • Shadow of the Sun
  • Luna Rossa

Doors open at 3pm both days, and with five bands each night the whole weekend has taken on the dimensions of a festival.

Tickets are still available from The Robin box office.

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Rob Reed launches Kiama

Rob Reed, leader and keyboard player of Magenta has announced a new supergroup featuring Luke Machin of Maschine and The Tangent on lead guitar, Dylan Thompson of Shadow of the Sun and formerly of The Reasoning on lead vocals, and Andy Edwards of Frost* on drums.

The album is due on January 18th, and you can pre-order it now from the Kiama website right now.

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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.


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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