Thy Shade - The Last Goodbye You know, you can say what you want about female fronted symphonic metal like Nightwish, Within Temptation and Leaves’ Eyes, but they have (or had) some terrific vocalists. Tarja, Sharon den Adel, Simone Simons of Epica, the list goes on. In plenty of cases the music may be tepid and derivative, but at least those golden throats are there to put salve on the wounds and distract from the musical mediocrity. There could even be causality between the quality of the voice and the instrumentation: the band might think the vocals can carry the day alone, or they don’t want to take away from the spotlight. To study this phenomenon, a more extreme example might help. Something like, you guessed it, Thy Shade.

Thy Shade is the collaboration between Mane Cabrales, who does all the instrumentation sans piano, and Diane Shade (Di Shade is Thy Shade, get it?), piano player and classical soprano. As expected from a band that names itself after the vocalist and tries to be clever about it, Shade’s voice takes the spotlight, the left, right and center of the stage, and the rest of the music mostly exists to support her. It shows, too: the instrumental parts are extremely simplified. The drumming sounds downright bored, the guitar perfunctory and the bass is largely absent. Synths, however, are used regularly and with reckless abandon, ill-advised or not, following the template once written by Nightwish. Every now and then a decent guitar solo attempts to bring some life into the proceedings, but every time this occurs the other instruments inexplicably retreat to the back and leave only the most rudimentary support. The result is that the solos sound thin and lifeless all on their own.

Poor songwriting choices like this abound throughout the album. “Final Chapter” features some constipated growls that remain wholly unconvincing. “Fantasy,” for some reason, features faint camera shutter sounds that add only distraction. “Inneggiamo” switches abruptly between string-like supporting synths and full-on flanging keyboards. The album is a buffet of elements cherry-picked from better bands and implemented poorly. And considering all this is to support Shade’s voice, the sacrifices don’t seem worth it. She is very talented as a classical soprano but it’s evident she nor her companion have any idea how to implement it in metal, outside of having heard a Leaves’ Eyes song once. As such, she can only do the style she is trained in well. The slow symphonic sections are her hunting ground, and if you love classical music these parts will be enjoyable, but she falters as soon as the music comes anywhere near poppiness (“Fantasy” and “Change”), sounding unsure and unstable.

Thy Shade 2016

All this has led me to a theory. It may be true, it may not, but it would explain precisely how this album came to be. I don’t think Shade really, truly wanted to make a metal album. I think she is much more comfortable making classical music, but that is neither hip nor marketable to larger audiences, so she looked into alternatives and found them in symphonic metal. When sorted, everything good on this disc is classical, while everything poor is metal and the awkward combination of the two styles. My hypothesis is even supported by the production, as the mix regularly pushes the guitar back in favor of orchestral synths, operatic male guest vocals and Shade’s own arias. Sadly the result is a hybrid where the sum is lesser for its parts rather than an album with the ability to build on the respective strengths of the orchestral and the metal.

Thy Shade has a much better chance of creating great art if they would play classical music straight, without using metal as a commercial crutch. She has the talent for her preferred technique but she’d need a lot of extra training if she wants to pull off faster and more contemporary vocals. Although bands like Diablo Swing Orchestra and Haggard have demonstrated that a pure soprano in a metal band can still do marvelous things, Thy Shade will need to make many radical changes to get up to that level, or focus on what they do best: not playing metal.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre Records
Releases Worldwide: November 25th, 2016

  • Reese Burns

    Golden Throats sounds like a good pornogrind band name.

  • “Adagio” sounds rather pleasing, and I was somewhat surprised after reading the review and seeing the score, but I’m guessing that’s one of the better tracks. After checking out “Change” on YouTube, that suspicion is pretty much confirmed.

    • GardensTale

      Yeah, the more they play straight up classical music the better it sounds, but they don’t do that nearly enough.

    • Are you a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest, perchance?

      • Haha… Hell, no. I never watch it. Not even since AMG started live-commenting the commercial madness of simplistic, syrupy assembly line “music”.
        But I do like classical music to a certain degree, and opera-vocals to a somewhat smaller degree, even if I’ve never seen or heard a opera, and have no wish of doing so.
        Haggard have some nice material, but female fronted Epica-stuff ain’t my cup of arsenic

        • It is hilarious if you have the right commentary and play the drinking game… but this song is TOTALLY Eurovision, so you may even like some of the music ;)

          • My impression is that most Eurovision crap is much more synthetically poppy, but there’s probably some artsy contributions around reminiscent of this too. I would hate it for the setting alone :)

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      “true” metalheads despise everything that is not filled with “macho” bullshit and has just guitars all over the place, i would not pay much attention to that, those people dont seem to like or even get something beyond that, by example, all the eternal complaints about Rhapsody/Turilli having too much (??) orchestra and not enough guitars, totally senseless

      • I normally prefer my metal to be metal, but I also like diversity and quality regardless of the amount of barbed wire axes. I mean, I still love the very first Tristania, Sins of Thy Beloveth, Theatre of Tragedy, Anathema and The Gathering albums for their beautiful songwriting and emotional despair.
        Non of those bands lasted long, though, before they ventured into bleak landscapes of poppy atmospheric electronica and industrial alternative synt-goth/rock etc. Thus, I don’t care for what any of them have done for the past 15-20 years.

      • [not a Dr]

        Symphonic metal is one of my favorite genres of metal. Even when it’s Pussymphonic Metal. I shamelessly enjoy Nightwish and Epica.
        But what I hear from Thy Shade sounds less “metal” to my ears than actual cassical music. And, when I say metal, I don’t mean impressive solos, tough-sounding beats or a Man-O-Muscle attitude.
        I mean passion behind the music. Their delivery, although it looks cometently done, lacks credibility. They don’t seem to enjoy what they are doing.
        It’s almost like they thought “this bullshit should sell well to those losers:
        Step 1- throw a couple of power chords in there
        Step 2- Ms. Shade will caress herself on the video
        Step 3- Profit”


  • Oscar Albretsen

    So, question for anyone, how is “Within Temptation?” I saw them sited here along with Nightwish and Epica (a couple bands I’m not too big on) and I’d heard some good (and some not so good)things about them, but I’d never actually heard them, so I played a song off their “Unforgiving” album, and really liked it. Would you say they’re any better than “Nightwish/Epica,” or just another humdrum female-led symphonic-metal band?

    • Their early stuff is quite good (Enter, Mother Earth) and Silent Force is pretty respectable, but as they went on they got more and more poppy and generic. Their last one was pretty forgettable.

      • Oscar Albretsen

        Thx. Well, I just ordered “Unforgiving” and “Mother Earth.” Seem to differ stylistically as you’d said, but I liked what I heard from both on Spotify (sounded kinda like they went with an 80’s vibe in “Unforgiving,” and that would be sweet). But, if they suck, I’m out $20. :(

        • The Unforgiving doesn’t suck but by then they were on their downward slide into pop radio goth. The last album I really enjoyed by them was The Heart of Everything but even that was a bit too poppy.

          • Oscar Albretsen

            Thx. I have to admit that this review was pretty on the money in that alot of these bands really do sound very similar. My hopes aren’t exactly through the roof with these guys (and girl), but if they’ve got some memorable songs, I’ll probably be OK.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      is a good band, not great not terrible, basically they are pop with a metal skin, Silent Force, The Heart of Everything and The Unforgiven are good albums, but they are just that, pop songs with more heavy sound, it is fine to have some fun

    • RuySan

      To me they sound like Disney music with guitars. And I’m not even opposed to this kind of music (I like the first two nightwish records)

  • Hammersmith

    I’m going to go listen to Wishmaster.

    • [not a Dr]

      Hamster! A dentist!

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    the song is not bad, not great, kinda generic, but it get the complaints of the review, but i love opera and metal so i kinda like this

  • Jón Aldará

    Sharon *den Adel, for the record. Not that I can explain the distinction myself, but it probably makes a difference for the dutch and most definitely does for Sharon :)

    • GardensTale

      Thanks for the heads up! Updated.

  • The Unicorn

    I’ll stick with Thy Darkened Shade.

    • Martin Knap

      me with Thy Catafalque

      • The Unicorn

        That too! New one is tits!

  • [not a Dr]

    Self-unicorned album cover…

  • madhare

    “outside of having heard a Leaves’ Eyes song once”

    :D Almost snorted my coffee. Outch.

  • Brian Kelly

    i liked the sample song well enough casually listening to it, but if the singer is talented enough to be a real opera singer, im sure she would make a lot more money doing that full time than being in a band where im sure they are making no money at all on this cd. but maybe its a situation where shes good for ‘metal’ but nowhere near good enough to be a real opera singer, i dont know, i only listened to one song. or maybe she is a singer for a profession and took a couple hours out to do this cd as a side project. who knows.

  • Hark

    Massive respect for mentioning Haggard! As this year will be 20 years of “And Thou Shalt Trust… the Seer”, I think it deserves “Yer Metal is Olde” treatment!