Artist: Snowy Shaw
Album: White Is The New Black
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Review by: Sean Cantor
Snowy Shaw is one of the best kept secrets in heavy metal. He somehow stands hidden in plain sight, while contributing massively to the metal community, through countless bands and seemingly on whatever instrument he can get his hands on. This however is not about Snowy’s past glories, if you want to learn more about what Snowy Shaw has done, feel free to google him and spend the next ten hours of your life reading through his massive musical resume. This is about the metal world finally getting what it deserves, a proper Snowy Shaw solo album, White is the New Black.
White is the New Black is undoubtedly distinct. Those unfamiliar with what Shaw brings to the table as a musician, vocalist, or songwriter will quickly find out that although his influences are apparent there is no one who creates the way Shaw does. The level of theatricality may be one of the strongest distinctions on the album. The first two tracks, “Krampus” and “March of the Black Dwarfs”, could easily be pulled from a dark metal musical. The vocal delivery many times feels more like he is presenting us with an otherworldly character than just singing the songs in typical human fashion. However, the album is beyond a shadow of a doubt metal. This becomes evident very early on with “Alcoholocaust,” which has heavy riffing and a double bass driven chorus that may be the most headbangable song released in 2018. So for those hoping for some Dream Evil “Book of Heavy Metal” level of metalness, just go ahead and hit repeat on this song. The album is hard to define without speaking individually about each song due to the stylistic range Shaw explores. “ Nachtgeist” has the drive of Dimmu, impressively solid Halford-esque vocals, and all within the drama of a classic King Diamond track. Then unexpectedly, “Is This My Destiny” sounds like an eerie Abba track. Imagine listening to ABBA’s “The Day Before You Came” while walking uneasily through a haunted house. This album has been labeled by Shaw to be his “greatest hits in reverse” where each style explored is a taste of one of many upcoming solo efforts.
What makes White is the New Black especially impressive is the continuity within the variation. The glue that is able to hold all of Shaw’s creative madness together is the quality of songwriting. Each song is supplied with a hook that will stick after only one listen. It is one of those rare albums that after you’ve listened to it twice it feels like you’ve known it for years. Shaw is able to color each song with exactly what it needs to stand out using his massive arsenal of musical skills. Thick riffs, addictive hooks, subtly haunting melodies, and theatrics weave through the album seamlessly. Every fan of Snowy Shaw likely has a project that they would love to see him contribute to again but after White is the New Black it feels like the right time for Snowy Shaw stand alone. I’d like to share my final words, not through me, but inevitably, and ever so coolly, through the immortal genius of Dream Evil, “it doesn’t matter where we go, he’s always there, that fucking Snowy Shaw!”, and if this is the direction he’s going the metal world will surely be rewarded.
RIYL: Dream Evil, Notre Dame, King Diamond, ABBA
See also; Artist Interview: Snowy Shaw