SiX By SiX – Beyond Shadowland (Album Review)

Review of the sophomore album by SiX By SiX – ‘Beyond Shadowland’ due out on April 26th, 2024.

by Prog Nick

SiX By SiX are a progressive/power-trio comprising guitarist Ian Crichton (Saga), drummer Nigel Glockler (Saxon) and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry (3.2, GTR). Having released a successful debut in 2022 that certainly made its mark, the band has now released a sophomore album of eleven songs entitled ‘Beyond Shadowland’. Recorded during the course of 2023 in Berry’s San Francisco studios, the album flexes, refines and forges the band’s established sound into a slightly less Progressive form than the debut, but the result is a no less pleasing one. It is a cornucopia of searing melodies and guitar-driven rock, metal and Prog, all tinged with an operatic feel of the story-telling type.

Sonically superior, ‘Beyond Shadowland’ showcases the decades of combined experience that these fine musicians possess. The album presents a brand of guitar-oriented and sophisticated Prog-rock that is based on heavy but melodic guitars, expert vocals and varied stylistic influences. Crisp, refined and direct, the album will ensure that fans of the Proggier debut will be satisfied, but will no doubt embrace a somewhat broader audience as well.

There are certain moments on the album that may be mentioned: Opening track “Wren” is an excellent showcase of Berry’s voice and reminds us that he is a force to be reckoned with in Rock. “Arms of a Word” is as powerful as a hurricane and will please the Prog-metal community greatly. The trio are past masters of melding melancholy with high-energy rock, as is evident in “Can’t Live Like This” which is an all-round melding of styles.

The intro to “Obiliex,” my favorite track on the album, is quite simply next-level melodic Prog, and Berry’s fretless bass on this track reminds us just who he is. “Only You Can Decide” continues the melodic theme, this time in a more rock-opera vein that is reminiscent of Queensryche at their best. ‘Titans’ combines an electronic riff with a warlike chant that is in my opinion not the finest moment on the album.

All is righted in ‘Outside Looking In’ with Crighton’s squealing guitar leading the way. “Spectre” and “Sympathise” are satisfying straight-ahead rock that cannot be ignored and “One Step” is a high point on the album, being possibly the Proggiest moment, together with ‘The Mission, which ends the album on a suitably eclectic and triumphant note.

There are four bonus tracks on the vinyl edition, being ‘SIX By SiX (Orchestra Medley)’, ‘The Arms of a Word (Instrumental)’, ‘Honor Bridge’ and an instrumental version of ‘The Mission’.

Whilst each member shines on the record, it is Crichton’s guitar playing that is at the core of the album’s unique feel. His style is quite discernable, and one cannot really imagine any other guitarist fulfilling this role. Produced by the band, the album has a crystal-clear and powerful sound. Its artwork (featuring the now-familiar red dice) is adequate and the composition and arrangements, whilst not always consistent, are generally excellent.

‘Beyond Shadowlands’ might not be as Proggy as one might have expected, but Crighton’s heavy yet melodic guitar tones and Berry’s excellent vocals combine with Glockler’s always-solid percussion to create a bold and satisfying product.

SIX By SIX is, of course, a side-project for all three members. Saxon and Saga are both still very active and Berry is also busy with numerous other bands and projects. That means that this great material might not be toured live, which would be a pity, since this is certainly a band that is evolving. While SIX By SIX’s debut album may have been Proggier in nature, the sophomore is more impressive overall and a very strong statement, nonetheless.

Released on April 26th, 2024 on InsideOutMusic

Pre-order now here:

The full tracklisting is as follows:

1. Wren
2. The Arms of a Word
3. Can’t Live Like This
4. Obiliex
5. Only You Can Decide
6. Titans
7. Outside Looking In
8. Spectre
9. Sympathise
10. One Step
11. The Mission

Vinyl-only bonus tracks:

1. SiX By SiX Orchestra Medley
2. The Arms of a Word (Instrumental)
3. Honor Bridge
4. The Mission (Instrumental)

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