The 2020 release, Shades Of Shadow, starts a new chapter for Age Of Fire. 2019 was a busy and productive year for the band with more and more streaming outlets, magazine features, podcasts, blogs, online interviews and radio stations picking up their music around the globe. A few new singles have been released from the upcoming Shades Of Shadow such as Time Is Running Out, Fairystones and the title track Shades Of Shadow.
Adding their talents to this new release is Laura Viglione on vocals and Michael Heck doing bass and drums as well as recording, mixing and mastering with a few guest musicians as well. It has been great to have more people involved for Greg to achieve his vision of Age Of Fire. Laura’s voice expands the vocal possibilities of the band and having Michael behind the sound board has brought the band to new heights sonically yet to be head by the band before. This disc expands and broadens the band’s musical palette with some crushing vocal tracks and harmonies, classical influences and more unique instrumentals that have become a new trademark for the band. Steve Sanderson and Arnaud Krakowka also make guest appearances on this CD on drums as well.
Track by track from the band:
Epitaph – This opening piece sets the tone for the album. Nothing like this has been heard before on an Age Of Fire disc. The rising orchestration, then the melody in the French horn then joined by trumpet. This all then turns into a guitar frenzy, the juxtaposition of classical elements and distorted electric guitar. Then the guitar picks up the horn melody and everything fades away. Greg did the orchestration and guitar parts.
Time Is Running Out – This second track hits you right between the eyes. This is reminiscent of the band’s earlier thrash days. With Greg on guitars and vocals and Arnaud Krakowka on drums. This track is relentless and perfect for the time with such a sense of immediacy and energy.
Judgement Day – Originally on the Obsidian Dreams album with Greg on vocals this all new recording is featuring the vocal talents of Laura Viglione. With Michael Heck holding down the bass and drums, this is a much heavier version musically and Laura’s voice taking it all to a new place and higher level. This song speaks of the coming end of times with the signs all around that the world is changing and humanity is losing it’s grip.
Fairystones – Greg is a huge fan of the band Nightwish and this is his attempt to capture a mood similar to their but adding his own stamp of course. The ethereal keyboards, pounding drums and ripping guitar over the rhythm sections make this a captivating instrumental piece. The middle section quiets down a bit with more keys and a touch of acoustic guitar until the return to the open section until the final flurry. This was the first piece Michael and Greg collaborated on.
Shades Of Shadow – The title track of the CD. This is such an emotional piece written by Greg and something he has tried to write for some time. It’s a balance between classical and rock/metal. This piece starts with solo piano then the electric guitar joins in and solos but also entwines with the piano. Exposition ensues with melodies and a free form improv until the string orchestra kicks in a brings the piece to a whole other place. The guitar is ever present and wraps itself around the orchestra and ultimately ending with solo keyboard. This work crosses many moods, at times happy, with a touch of melancholy and the powerful with the string orchestra. A highlight of the CD for sure.
King Of Aquilonia – This song was inspired by the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. So many times has his story been told in magazines, books, comics and film but rarely is there a mention that he did eventually become a King. The are also a few compilations of stories when he was king. This was the first track completed with Laura on vocals. She does such a stellar job and brings the song to life. The was a rough earlier version with Greg on vocals but it was all scrapped for this take. This new recording of the track was also with Mike doing bass and drums, after hearing this, Greg offered them both spots in the band.
High Speed Chase – This instrumental piece showcases the talents of Greg on guitar and is an homage to one of his influences, Joe Satriani. Greg grew up listening to many instrumental writers like Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. For years he would write in this style and mostly staying away from lyrics. This is one of those gems from that period.
Dual Phase Of A Lost Moon – Another instrumental by Greg with Steve Sanderson on drums. With the use of flanger in the mid-section he attempts to get this other worldly feeling. The whole track is to give a feeling of being thrust in space with notice being given to both the beauty and the chaos.
Crystal Ball – This track was originally on Obsidian Dreams with Greg on vocals. After hearing Laura on King of Aquilonia, it was decided that Laura would track vocals for the remaining tracks. Crystal Ball was completely re-recorded with Michael on drums and bass and Greg on guitars. Lyrically this is a homage to Ronnie James Dio. It tells the story of a wizard who has to defeat a dragon who has been using the power of a crystal ball for evil purposes. There are also melodic nods and galloping rhythms in the style of Iron Maiden.
Mist At Dawn – This instrumental was originally as a guitar duet with a clean channel and improvised electric solo over it. It was retracked with the intent of adding drums and bass. Michael came up with the heavy section in the middle and it just grew from there. Melodies and guitar colors are explored more in depth on this piece as well as dropped tunings giving the heavy parts some serious bottom end not heard previously on the disc. Michael also shows off his bass skills throughout the piece. This is an epic finale to the Shades of Shadow disc.
Shades Of Shadow | Released February 18th, 2020 on Sliptrick Records
01. Epitaph | 02. Time Is Running Out | 03. Judgement Day | 04. Fairystones | 05. Shades Of Shadow | 06. King Of Aquilonia | 07. High Speed Chase | 08. Dual Phase Of A Lost Moon | 09. Crystal Ball | 10. Mist At Dawn
Age Of Fire are:
Greg Brown – Guitars/Vocals | Michael Heck – Bass/Drums | Laura Viglione – Lead Vocals