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Shadow's Mignon > Midnight Sky Masquerade > Reviews

Shadow's Mignon - Midnight Sky Masquerade

Henning Pauly is one of the most well known multi-instrumentalists in the current scene, and one that seems to take great delight producing powerful guitar-based albums that are all very different from each other (he is also a huge fan of Douglas Adams – and I still can’t believe that I was playing one of his albums for the first time on my 42nd birthday and realised that the song I was listening to was about HHGTTG, way too freaky!). He released two albums as Frameshift (the first with singer James LaBrie (Dream Theater) and the second with Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row)). He has released albums with Chain, solo, rock opera (Babysteps) and for this album he decided that maybe Eighties classic style metal would be an interesting way to go, and why not? He invited Juan Roos to provide the rock vocals, Stephan Kernbach to assist on keyboards and he provided everything else (of course). He states that the influences are Dio, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Rainbow, Foreigner, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Uriah Heep, Yngwie Malmsteen, Europe, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Moore, Cinderella, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Accept and Halloween (but not many of those bands use a banjo to introduce a song..). But you could also easily add Poison, Great White, Bonfire and a host of others. Hennning likes to say that it sounds like “Awesome Metal from the 80s, the 90s and the best of today”, and you know what? He’s right! It is quite possible that this album may be overlooked by the target audience, just because it is on a label that is usually associated with progressive rock music (well, it is in the name), and this is not progressive rock but incredibly well executed and catchy melodic hard rock that could have been come out of the LA scene twenty years ago. Label boss Shawn Gordon has long been a friend and supporter of Henning, so there really was never any doubt where this would come out, but if you don’t normally listen to prog don’t let the name of the record company put you off – this is a hard rock lover’s delight! The album closes with a very different acoustic take of the title song (which also appears as a rocker earlier), and brings the album to a fitting close. This is an essential purchase for any fans of melodic classic rock.

The characteristics, paroxysms and even clichés of the early to mid 80’s heavy metal (especially from the NWOBHM and its American counterpart) are to be found here in abundance and even the obligatory inclusion of some melodic and emotional ballads have not been forgotten. With powerful riffs and guitar soloing that seem to come from different quadrants of that era, from Hair Metal to Glam, from pure Heavy to Hard Rock (Skid Row, Motley Crue, Diamond Head, Obsession, WASP, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Queensryche, Twisted Sister and so many others that really defined the genre) accompanied by a very “Iron Maidenish” drumming and attitude, the vocals also fit the scope (the power and the type of approach is the most commonly associated with “true” metal) to perfection and even the lyrics about true metal, dragons and ancient battles have not been forgotten to complement and complete the architectural framework of the original idea and put it into practice. Overall this is an album that dares to go back in time and bring back to the frontend many of the “lost and outdated” components that made the delights of many of us (include me in that population). Listened to in the right mindset it does make your inner adolescent smile. A smile full of innocence and sincerity, like in those well passed old days, when we first explored the energy bursting and the emotional release that frank and honest heavy metal was able to induce in us.

The start of the album is immense and really kicks some ass! "A Dragon Shall Come" immediately cheers you up with driving guitar riffs and superb vocals from Roos - an absolute highlight of the album, great vocal! The main soundscape elements are the guitar riffing, the lead solo breaks and Roos's voice. Kernbach's contribution is notable but sparse and isn't "center-stage". This superb start is followed by the anthemic "A Slave to Metal", an early contender for best track of 2009, and I challenge you to listen to this without jumping up and chanting along: a feat that only the dead will achieve! The title track follows in similar fashion - it's a cracking opening to the albu

Mid eighties power metal has come back rearing its loud banging head in the form of Shadow’s Mignon . It seems these days that bands try to over do it in the power department, how fast I can play or the many notes in a solo that can be produced but not here. Shadow’s Mignon deliver a solid meat and potatoes release with some of the fattest riffs that I have heard since the last real Sabbath CD. Midnight Sky Masquerade is a heavy listen with 12 tracks of unsurpassed metal that can only come from Germany. Euro metal has stayed on top for awhile because of their dedication to what makes it good and this CD is no exception. With riff heavy tracks like the bombastic opener A Dragon Shall Come, A Slave To Metal or A Beast Abandoned amongst the other jewels that litter this utterly terrific release, they have come correct with a metal classic to be. Miss Sabbath albums like Tyr, Headless Cross or the earlier Ozzy slabs, then look no further than the new Shadow’s Mignon.

Henning is happy to acknowledge that some ideas have been borrowed from the metal bands of ye olde days, but even if you have heard some of the words before, nothing will stop those of us of a certain vintage from enjoying tunes like ’All Hail The Warrior, the ten minute epic ’Kingdom Of The Battle Gods’, or even getting our lighters in the air for the banjo (!) powered power ballad ’Goodnight Boston’. There’s never a dull moment on this album, and it’s been on repeat play around my way for weeks now. Do yourself a favour and dig out those flares and studded wristbands.

From the titles alone you could have a good guess to the music on here - 'A Dragon Shall Come' (here they give Manowar a good run for their money) and 'All Hail The Warrior' (slightly generic in sound) being prime examples. But they do throw you on a couple of songs, namely 'Goodnight Boston' which sounds like an acoustic ballad by Poison, I kid you not and 'I Will Never Stop', another ballad almost AOR in sound. Both are fine songs but do seem slightly out of place from all the metal music that surrounds them. 'No Metal Son Of Mine' is great fun especially in the lyrics which see a father bemoaning the fact his son doesn't wear any black or share the father's love of heavy metal music. The epic 'Kingdom Of the Battle Gods' with its fast and slow passages again recalls Manowar in their prime and makes for a great liste

It doesn't take long to realize classic 80s acts like Dio, Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Deep Purple, and Judas Priest are the inspiration behind the album. "A Dragon Will Come" and "A Slave to Metal" start the fist pumping, which gets little reprieve, with the former pounding out true traditional metal while the latter keeps things going with a mid-tempo gallop and group chanted chorus. Immediately, the terribly cliché-filled song titles should indicate the type of subject matter being covered here, i.e., dragons, warriors, battle gods, demons, elves, etc. While such subjects should only be considered par for the course, as the 80s were rife with such fodder, vocalist Juan Roos conveys these subjects with enough conviction that no matter how bad it looks on paper it never feels too ridiculous while listening to the album

This is a new group lead by Henning Pauly (who plays all the instruments except the keyboards on 3 songs). They clearly wanted to make an 80’s metal record and I can clearly say they have succeeded. Juan Roos sings the vocals and Stephen Kernbach lays down the keyboards on 3 tracks. Juan had already worked with Henning on a release called Credit where Credit is Due. Anyway, this CD features 12 tracks in 72 minutes. Let’s get started with a Dragon shall Come and yes we are straight back to 1986 sound with the chorus of voices, soaring guitar harmonies and solos. A Slave to Metal is a real anthem style song. A mixture of Accept, Manowar and Scorpions or something like that. Midnight sky Masquerade speeds things up and you will hear some hints of Iron Maiden. Goodnight Boston is an acoustic ballad with Juan really singing his heart out. Darkness comes to Light is really a classic 80’s rock sound (but with today’s digital production

In fact, Pauly is a busy man and his musical journeys have seen him go punk on Greatest Hits with The Anthologies, writing a rock opera called Babysteps and working with country musician Matt Cash on his album Western Country. Having heard some classic eighties metal he teamed up with Juan Roos and keyboard player Stephan Kernbach and formed Shadow’s Mignon. He then set about writing a set of metal influenced tracks for an album. Pauly explains on the promo blurb, "We were able to do so many things and use so many sounds we are told we ‘can’t use anymore’ because they are out of date. So we went back to our roots and made music that cannot live without them". Defiantly they have come up with an album that delivers an assault of metal that unashamedly powers in with “A Dragon Shall Come”. In many ways it all seems a little tongue in cheek as it pays powerful homage to eighties metal. It is, however, almost as authentic as some of the real thing was complete with some dodgy lyrics of warriors, battle Gods, beasts, and dragons. Having said that, if you take the lyrics as they are hopefully intended and concentrate on the essential energy of the musicianship, then it scores reasonably well

Here comes "Kingdom of the Battle Gods", the longest song of the 13 presented here; a lullaby growing British Hard rock the way Deep Purple used to play a coupla decades ago. Class metal once again with a superb solo and the ten minutes fly by without you can even realize. The record highlight palm definitely goes to "Spirit of the Elves", gifted with an irresistible chorus and steady references to Uriah Heep. The recipe is changed again with "No Metal Son of Mine", old style Heavy rock with thin streaks of Foreigner in the refrain; the manner the song gets to the end, vocals and keyboard lines included pays plain homage to Alias, and with the last but one song before the above-cited bonus track. "Out of Control" shows that the German 3-piece got the balls and can create heavier material in line with Hammerfall, Primal Fear, the fastest Iron Maiden and the likes. Divine solo and refrain that compels everyone to raise the fist forwards. After all, a very positive debut-CD that should make fans of Hard rock and Heavy metal glad, independently on their generation, from 20 to 50. There is nothing new, yep, and the predominance of the mainman in the songwriting and recording might make someone raise their eyebrows, yet I assure you there is nothing that bad to complain about it, even tho it is a project band (so far). That's why I'm so curious to learn whether this full-length will have a sophomore heir or not.'s%20Mignon-review.htm

Multi-instrumentalist HENNING PAULY (FRAMESHIFT, CHAIN, SAGA) caught up with vocalist JUAN ROOS and keyboardplayer STEPHAN KERNBACH to form a new band called SHADOW’S MIGNON and unlike what one would expect from these musicians, their first album ‘Midnight sky masquerade’ has nothing to do with Progressive Rock, although it has been released on PROGROCK RECORDS. Instead we are surprised by pure 80s True Metal, not far away from MANOWAR actually! Happily it is done very well and with 12 tracks the band unleashes quite some excellent material that can easily be classified as high quality Melodic True Metal with songs to shout along to as well as a lot of screaming guitars. Songs like “A slave to metal”, “Midnight sky masquerade”, “All hail to the warrior” and the epic “Kingdom of the battle Gods” will please any fan of 80s Melodic Metal. MANOWAR is the obvious reference, but still SHADOW’S MIGNON has sort of an own sound that sounds very impressive, thanks to the wonderful musicianship of the members.

"Midnight Sky Masquerade" covers the most cliched varieties of ‘80s and early ‘90s heavy metal to perfection, and I would think that any fan of that music, especially if they are able to enjoy humor at the expense of this style, should find the production to be highly interesting. For followers of progressive rock and metal there's not too much of value on this disc though; it covers a subset of music that is derivative in itself, and words like progressive, challenging and complex can at best be used for the lyrical contents only. Recommended to fans of bands like Manowar – with a well developed humoristic personality.