Review | SiX By SiX – Beyond Shadowland

Inside Out Music

The collaboration of prog rock and metal’s finest delivered an unequalled debut album in 2022. Hopes high, I didn’t expect SiX By SiX to extend its recording career, but the new offering `Beyond Shadowland’ proves otherwise. Multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry reunites with drummer Nigel Glockler (Saxon) and guitarist Ian Crichton of Saga fame, for a second release which is as daunting and prog-packed as the debut. Leaping forward, SiX By SiX proves a keeper with the new record zooming in on much catchier structures of the 11 songs presented. 


As glorious as its predecessor, `Beyond Shadowland’ brings together the member’s core ingredients and mastery, but with greater intensity and hooks. All rooted in the prog-genre predominantly, the songs are built on captivating choruses and melody-lines, atop the great musical interaction of the band. Crichton’s typical ‘biting’ guitar phrasing at the helm, and Berry’s keyboard swirls and cascading pomp counter parting, make for memorable moments. Pleasantly surprised by Glockler’s intense drumming on the debut, we are treated powerhouse grooves with tasteful fills of jazz and fusion elements, enhancing the progressive dynamics of the tracks.

This sophomore album zeroes in on its strengths, particularly highlighting its infectious bridges and choruses, with an abundance of captivating melodies and hooks that soar to new heights. Compared to their debut, the song structures draw parallels to Emerson, Berry, and Palmer’s `To the Power of Three’ album by their band 3, yet with heightened intensity and raw musical energy. The progressive elements seamlessly integrate into the performances, immediately captivating the listener with each track. 


`Beyond Shadowland’ fosters a remarkable synergy where Crichton appears perfectly in his element. With concise themes and skillfully crafted licks, his guitar work often takes center stage, showcasing his remarkable talent and defining style. Witness the commanding opening, where guitars soar alongside cascading keys, complementing Berry’s vocals with Ian’s biting guitar licks and melodies. The dynamic interplay of instruments, accompanied by Glockler’s powerful drumming, creates a vibrant fusion of prog, rock, and fusion, crowned by searing melodies. ,,Titans” embodies an experimental spirit, blending tribal rhythms with rousing harmonies and dance beats, while the vocals weave intricate phrasing and scatting, propelled by electrifying guitar melodies.

,,Outside Looking In” launches with a tribal rhythm reminiscent of ,,Titans,” as the bass resonates in the lower registers, enriched by fusion and jazzy drum fills. The song gains momentum with Berry’s signature hooks and melodies, evoking echoes of ,,Desde La Vida” and ,,Runaway”, yet distinguishing itself with innovative guitar work and dynamic drum rolls. It stands as a bastion of memorable melodies and captivating hooks, stacked in chops and layers of extraordinary musicianship.


Focusing on robust grooves and dynamic riffing, tracks like ,,Arms of a Word” assert their prog prowess with commanding guitars and pulsating bass lines, establishing a dominant presence that pauses before launching into captivating melodic choruses. The verses pack a serious punch with their powerful crunch, creating memorable dynamic contrast.

In ,,Spectre”, a parade-like stance accompanies progressive rhythm shifts, accompanied by Glockler’s intricate snare work and fills. Subtle vocal delivery adds an intriguing layer, while the guitar hooks and melodies maintain their sharpness, culminating in Ian’s stellar solo—a testament to his skill—with layers of reverb and cascading notes, weaving seamlessly into a hooky, jagged strumming pattern. 

Merging the experimental ingredients and nuances from earlier tracks, ,,Sympathise” harmonizes an immensely weighty stride with a danceable tempo, evoking head nodding proving the songs versatility. The bass consistently propels forward with intensifying torque, exuding a sense of creative buoyance breaking free from compositional limitations. The interplay between the instrumentalists is remarkable and captivating, elevating the song to new heights.


Toning down frequently SiX By SiX has Berry’s soaring his vocals on the wonderful ,,Can’t Live like This”, converting ethereal and cinematic section into tedious towering pomp with powerful melodies and stacked layers of musical marksmanship. Bass droning low, Crichton’s guitars are provided dominance in the higher ranges, spotlighting his hue. These wonderful opening is reversed for the slow moving ,,Obelix” that is propelled by pitched guitar pickings and a growling low-end bass that propels the verses. Berry lays his soaring vocals on top, delving deep for the bridge conveying frail emotions. Both songs seem connected with the acoustic short ,,Only You can Decide” tapping the same vein emotionally. Lush and frail, the short blisses with string arrangements add to the intensity of guitar and vocal interplay. 

,,One Step” bursts into action with enchanting arrangements that swiftly build momentum, showcasing the band’s progressive prowess. Acoustic flamenco passages, intertwined with resonant droning basslines, lend a gripping allure to the verses, while Crichton’s guitars propel the song forward with a reciprocal exchange of hook-laden riffs and licks. Synths introducing a mystical and psychedelic element, while tolling bells evoke a sinister ambiance to underscore the lyrical themes of tragedy.


The narration unfolds a vivid intensity, channelling the symphonic prog essence of ELP, as Nigel’s adept time changes intertwine seamlessly with Ian’s virtuosic fretboard wizardry. With mounting power, the band embarks on a grand finale, weaving together a tapestry of melodies and emotions traversing the multifaceted melodies and themes of the track.

Culminating on the album’s ingredients, ,,The Mission” spits into action with jagged licks while 12-string guitars meander to the front. Moog present, the song unites Berry’s 3.2 magical moments with the essence of SiX By SiX, uniting the best of all worlds. The feelgood energy breaks through and the sudden rift of grandiose glory identifies with the highly melodic (short) guitar solo. Strings bent with notes stretched, the oozing comfort of the track is dominating the positives vibes. Spicing up the prog elements into its breakdown, the track marks a perfect ending of this album.


`Beyond Shadowland’ harmonizes each musician’s remarkable creative qualities and songwriting skills. Blending Crichton’s richly toned guitar dexterity with Glockler’s commanding grooves and dynamic flair, characterized by a wonderful tapestry of jazzy inflections, rhythm and tempo shifts, all colored by his nuanced fills. Robert Berry’s masterful touch arranging and composing infuses the music with the perfect blend of musicality, verses and choruses, elevating its appeal with his creative vision.

As SiX By SiX transcends conventional boundaries, the question of its long-term sustainability arises. However, rumors suggest that they will bolster their presence with a fall tour to promote both albums, underscoring their commitment to nurture the pleasure and creativity present in both releases.

Note: the 2 LP vinyl version of the album comes in a slick gatefold edition featuring 4 bonus tracks. Two are instrumental versions of ,,Arms of a Word” and ,,The Mission”, the latter my most anticipated. More interesting however is the ,,SiX By SiX Orchestra Medley” Berry cooked up with his friends, and the extra non-album track ,,Honor Bridge” which has me pre-ordering the vinyl edition.

Release date: 26 April 2024



Logged in as