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Dean Madonia

Shadow to Shadow Dean Madonia's Frankenstein

Review by Gary Hill

A concept album, this is mostly progressive rock, but there are some other things here, as well. Everything here works exceptionally well. The vocal hooks and vocal performances are, in many ways, the best thing going on here. That’s not to say the music isn’t great. It is exceptional. It’s just that the vocals manage to really shine above and beyond that. I should say that I expected something a bit creepier than this, but I’m not really disappointed either.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Pale Student (Spoken)

As the parenthetical insinuates, this is a short spoken introduction.       

The Living Proof
There is a real pop country sound to this piece.      
Chimera
This piece is symphonic and more than a little creepy.
What I Believe
There is quite a bit of funk in this. It’s the more purely progressive rock oriented piece to this point on the disc, though. It rocks hard, but has plenty of shifts and changes and other oddities.
The Spark of Life
With some symphonic elements at play, this is another smoking hot progressive rock piece. In fact, I like this even better than the previous one. This reaches some incredible heights. It also has some quirky moments late.
Alive Anew

This is a very dynamic piece. It starts very mellow and atmospheric. Some processed spoken vocals are heard on the early sections. It works out to a killer progressive rock jam after a time, though. This is one of the strongest songs of the whole set.

Frightful Fiend (Spoken)
Here we get another short spoken section to move the story along.
Running from the Moon
A powerhouse fast paced progressive rock jam brings this into being. It works through some shifts and changes as it continues and is a real winner. It’s another of the standouts here. It really is quite a diverse piece.   
Trusted Friend
This is a piano based progressive rock ballad. It’s quite strong.
He Calls Me
More hard edged progressive rock, this one borders on metal at times. It’s another powerful one. It has some great hooks and just works really well. The mellow drop back section has a great multi-layered vocal arrangement.
When He Plays His Guitar
Acoustic guitar based, this gentle piece is folk prog. It’s another good tune, but not a stand out.
Let Me In
A mellower prog ballad, this is pretty and quite effective.   It’s got some powerfully evocative moments and some great hooks.
Wrong
Although this is faster paced, it lands more toward the melodic end of progressive rock. I really love some of the keyboard work on this thing. It’s a soaring number with some definite shifts and turns. At times it reminds me a little of Yes (musically, not vocally).
Alone
Here we get another high energy progressive rock tune. This is one with a wide range and scope. As great as the music is, though, the vocals are the real selling point here. They are among the best of the whole set.
Disc 2
Did I Request Thee? (Spoken)
And, via truth in advertising, this is another spoken piece.          
You Made Me
Piano starts things here. It grows out into another progressive rock powerhouse. This is one of the real masterpieces of the set. I love the lyrics and the vocals. Yet, the music is strong enough to never need to feel second to those. This is one of the best here.
Letter from Home
This is just a short little instrumental that has a real European flair to it.      
Fool's Gold
Here is another melodic prog powerhouse. It’s a complex and evocative piece with great music, lyrics and vocals.
Back to Meet My Maker
Although this isn’t a big variant of any kind, it is another stellar prog rock number.     
Shadow to Shadow
This is a powerful ballad. It’s packed with emotion. I love the pairing of regular vocals with weird, whispered ones.   
Wedding Night
This smoking hot piece borders on metal. It’s still very much progressive rock, but the emphasis is on the “rock” part of the equation.          
The Promise
Theatrical and yet quite prog rock oriented, this is another strong piece on a disc with no weak material.
The Sweetest Part of Me
This is more or less a ballad. It’s an emotional one at that.    
Murdering Elizabeth
Soaring, nearly metallic guitar is the concept here. This crunchy instrumental is in the vein of Joe Satriani or Steve Vai. .
Into the White
Electronic and theatrical, this is atmospheric for more than the first three minutes. It gets more oomph added to the mix after that, but even so it’s only a little. The extensive instrumental section is dominated by keyboard soloing.
Spark Redux
This starts with a rather ballad-like approach. It’s sad and a little creepy. It gets into more intense theatrical territory at the end.
Into the Cold
A powerful progressive rock piece, this one lands closer to metal than just about anything here.
Falling Into the Sky
This is another killer prog tune. It’s epic in scope in a lot of ways. The vocals convey a lot of emotion. I love the multiple layers of vocals.  
The Living Proof, Pt. 2
More like a progressive rock ballad, this song really ties the whole thing together well. It has a great message and is musical a fitting closer.

              

 

 
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