SiX By SiX | Beyond Shadowland – New Studio Release Review

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Coming upon SiX By SiX’s second album Beyond Shadowland, one can feel the progressive power trio of Saga guitarist Ian Crichton, Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler, and bassist and vocalist Robert Berry of 3 (with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer) and 3.2, wielding quite the healthy and heavy near dozen on their sophomore release.

A powerful heavy tapping guitar effect gets us into the rough chunk of “Wren.” Featuring a melodic slower piano-led middle, a great singable chorus, and Crichton’s pull-offs and vibrato mastery this first tune is a great way to start. As with a good handful of what follows, “Wren,” might have benefitted from a slight trimming of its ending, but it surely sets the stage for the guitar-driven prog that follows across the eleven here.

Machine-driven as it sounds it might be, I’m not sure Glockler is responsible for the very cool percussion bed on “Can’t Live Like This,” but he certainly makes his drum presence known on this early tune that gives us a slight break in the heaviness. And, as he will for all of this record, Berry’s voice sounds fantastic on this one.

Softer tunes like “Obliliex,” featuring a great interweaving of Crichton’s electric picking and big heavy expressive bass notes from Berry, and the short acoustic-guitar led “Only You Can Decide,” showcase the light and shade this trio of seasoned players can produce.

As I hinted, what especially stirring about Beyond Shadowland, where we know that the playing will be top-notch, is how perfectly melodic these tunes are, even among all the impressive riffing and hard grooving as well as how often very empowering the lyrics are.

At the near end of this record, “One Step,” with its slow picking beginning, then an 80s-sounding metal verse, then acoustic guitar flippery, then a full-on change into fusion prog midway delivers in one grand tune all that was promised across individual moments before coming home to roost. This is by far the granddaddy tune for me here. Beyond Shadowland is a great record of fantastic playing, from masters who weave well together to create wonderful showcase moments among deeply melodic heavy prog tunes.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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