April 18, 2024

SiX By SiX, the progressive power trio comprising Ian Crichton (Saga), Nigel Glockler (Saxon) and Robert Berry (3.2), release their sophomore album ‘Beyond Shadowland‘ on InsideOutMusic on 26th April 2024. The band reconvened in Berry’s own Soundtek Studios in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2023 to bend, shape, hammer and caress their diverse musical talents into 11 impressive new tracks.  With this album, they continue to define and build upon their unique melodic space, welding guitar-driven rock, metal and prog into a unique and powerful sonic setting

The bands self-titled debut, released in 2022, established the trio as a power chord-driven celebration of artistry, passion and persistence. Prog Magazine said that the record was “exciting, often potent and demands repeated listens”, while Classic Rock Magazine called it “an inspired opening salvo that bubbles with chemistry.”

Ian Crichton, Nigel Glockler and Robert Berry

Ian Crichton is best known as one of the founding members of Saga, alongside his brother Jim. Saga went on to sell roughly 10 million albums world-wide and continue to perform around the world. As the driving force behind SiX By SiX, Ian takes a cunning turn, in assembling another potent band but one that focuses on his guitar prowess.  This time with established players, each with a celebrated past, refined skills, and unlimited potential.

Nigel Glockler began his career in 1980 as the drummer for the British band Krakatoa. In 1981 he found an opportunity with singer Toyah.  By the end of the year, he joined metal legends, Saxon. Except for two brief absences, Nigel has been behind his massive drum kit as an integral part of Saxon ever since. His powerhouse drumming is the engine that drives SiX By SiX’s songs forwards relentlessly.

Robert Berry first gained international attention with San Francisco-based Hush, releasing well-received recordings and then touring the USA. In the mid-1980s Berry’s first solo album garnered positive reviews in the most influential trade publications and attracted the attention of several major labels. At the suggestion of one of those labels, Robert moved to the UK to work with guitarist Steve Howe (of Yes fame) along with drummer Nigel Glockler in an effort to revitalize GTR. When GTR stalled, Robert partnered with British rock legends Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form ‘3’.  With Emerson and Palmer, Robert achieved a top ten charting single and toured the USA. Robert’s melodic sensibilities complement Ian’s extraordinary guitar and Nigel’s signature drumming perfectly.

Individually they are among rock’s most respected players on their respective instruments. Collectively, as Six By Six, with Nigel Glockler long-time drummer powering the UK’s Saxon, much-heralded guitarist Ian Crichton from Canada’s Saga, and Californian Robert Berry with roots in the ELP family providing bass, vocals, and keys, the band is a true cross-border, transatlantic collaboration. It is said that musicians can hear chemistry. Everyone around the band recognizes that “their chemistry is undeniable”, noting that that camaraderie is apparent in their collective enthusiasm and energy that
resonates and transcends their recordings. Think of it as a power chord-driven celebration of artistry, passion and persistence.

Those who have heard the final mix insist that Glockler’s percussive prowess and Berry’s deeply rhythmic bass topped with his soaring vocals are in fine form and provide the ideal foundation for Crichton to fly. Already an international guitar hero for his work with Saga, Crichton has propelled his Beyond Shadowland string-bending pyrotechnics to new heights. Some say this is his best work yet…and I can see why.

Beyond Shadowland is a body of work whose songs are at times about cause and other times about effect. It’s the result of the members committing 110% of their professional talents to the band and striving to achieve the kind of artistry worthy of their second release.
Sonically the album represents a conscious effort to message the harder edge at the top of the three musicians’ parameters while not leaving behind the subtleties that fans also loved about the first album.

The songs break down into a statement of why and how to move civilization forward without losing the compass provided by the past – or being imprisoned by it. The selection opens with Wren, an upbeat bouncy little creation not unlike the garden bird. The track has an intentional swagger, it’s about cherishing what you’ve learned while all the while taking chances navigating life and having fun doing it (so says the threesome!). What immediately strikes the listener is the clarity of mix and production, essential for such an adventurous composition but impressive even so! The blend of guitar tones, bubbling keys and rock-solid rhythm really surprised me!  

The Arms of a Word is another quite bombastic Metal-driven number, reflecting on the effects of wall-to-wall news and social media nonsense thrown at us all, and the difficulty of knowing what is truth these days….what is definitely true is quality of the guitar work on display here. Can’t Live Like This is altogether darker, slower, moody and mysterious with some fascinating percussive side-effects. It explores how we’re all influenced by the past but we shouldn’t be ruled by it. Follow your intuition.   

Obiliex sprang from the band’s curiosity about floating through space to a new destination. Robert goes on to say: “Ian, Nigel and myself discussed if we should take a chance releasing a slower song with one of the most passionate and raw guitar solos ever? They went for it, and it’s subsequently become a firm favourite, melding the beauty of the guitar work, the depth of the lyrics and the power of its tranquil groove. It has calm, depth and sheer raw energy – all captured by a peerless mix (see video below). Lovely stuff.

Only You Can Decide is another beauty of a creation, the production sounding so immediate, engaging, intimate. The multiple layers of guitar are a dream to listen to, while Robert’s vocals are strongly enveloping. A deceptively simple arrangement that hits the sweet spot, Small Is Beautiful! And then we have Titans – an altogether different exercise, snappy, almost acapella in rhythm before the riff sneaks in alongside almost Operatic vocals – strongly reminding me of an old Art-Rock-Punk band called Punishment of Luxury. But then we get a middle-eastern vibe swirling in, a fascinating pot-pourri of musical ideas.

Outside Looking In is all about how others might see you, and all the angst we all generate whilst brooding on who and what we are. A hypnotic percussion cleverly creates a sense of tension, added to by the impassioned vocals. More wonderful guitar work, these three are compositional geniuses as well as being incomparable musicians. Another great track, while being really quite un-nerving. In comes Spectre with a suitably hair-raising intro.

Sympathise is another chapter in this exploration of fact versus fiction (in our heads). It’s all about opinions, how we form them and how we react to them – and as the lyrics point out, by definition, an opinion is almost always just one take on a situation, it’s rare when there aren’t more….

One Step is a relatively straight-forward, up-beat rock number, reflecting on the frustrations of how we so often lose trust in and of others. So it’s pacey, edgy, suitably fuelled by nervous energy? Then finally we have The Mission, the nearest thing to what I might call a classic piece of Prog, a song about hopes and dreams that could easily have been a Yes number (and you can see Roberts previous influences and musical heritage here). A bit too complicated and OTT for me but no-one’s perfect! As a bonus, the vinyl version then has four instrumental bonus tracks: Orchestra Medley; The Arms of a Word; Honor Bridge; and The Mission.

All in all, this is a hugely impressive collection of meticulously crafted yet immediately accessible numbers – I’m not the world’s biggest Prog fan but I was completely swept up into the overall vibe of the album, great stuff!

Beyond Shadowland will be available as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 180g Black 2LP (featuring 4 exclusive bonus tracks) & as a Digital Album. The artwork was once again created by Rob Fowler.