Shadow Lyrics Archive – Iron Umbrella LP (1989)

Shadow Lyrics Archive
Above: A montage of the original 1989 vinyl LP and a snippet scanned from the original handwritten lyrics of "The Soldier".

In 1989, four American soldiers stationed in Germany formed a metal band. After their service ended, they recorded a vinyl LP entitled “Iron Umbrella”. The album contained seven original songs, and formed the core of the band’s set list as they toured Europe, and later the United States. Sadly, the original LP is difficult to come by these days (one collector site had a copy in “excellent” condition listed for $1,400). Nevertheless, you can hear the original tracks (ripped from the vinyl release), and explore the lyrics and behind the scenes information using the tabs below.

Numbered Man

Now it is all happening, just like it’s read, it shall be.
Now in this time of revelation, there’s no mystery.
It’s signed, it’s sealed. Before us revealed.
Rising seven nations, blood is filling the field.

Now in the beginning, man created his own end.
Will the fallen angel, be cast out again?

Chorus

I don’t want to be a number. I don’t want to be a numbered man.
Now in this time of tribulation, please, place me in the right hand.
For there’s fighting in the nations, and the churches are starting to fall.
And I know that I’m not worthy, but I pray, God save us all.

And the angel one, does he prepare his horn?
And with its sounding there is hellfire. And the ending’s born.
And in all the heat, we cannot find relief.
And after all of these seven years, help me fight off this beast.

A third of the heavens, a third of the earth, they fall black and burned.
Golgotha shows us, the ancient one has returned.

Now in the beginning, man created his own end.
Will the fallen angel, be cast out again?

Repeat chorus
Repeat chorus

Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

Without a doubt, Numbered Man is a powerful song. Monte wrote this one in Germany, with some finishing touches by Tony. The theme of the song is pretty evident. What if the Christian religion was right? What if there was a judgment or reckoning day that would befall mankind? What would happen? How would it feel, smell, taste? The contemplation of one’s emotional state in such a scenario is the point we explore here.

Now, before any of you post comments screaming about how Christianity *is* right, or there isn’t a God, or whatever, please keep in mind that this song is simply an exploration of the topic, one way or another – doesn’t matter.

Funny story. After we got back from Germany, my Grandmother wanted to hear the record. Now, she is an incredibly devout fundamentalist Christian (she practically invented the church organ). I tried to explain the depths of this particular song to her, but she would have none of it. She gave me the “That’s heavy metal, the devil’s music! You’re all going to burn in hell! Auuuugghhh!!” look (*snicker*). Suffice it to say, she didn’t ask for an autographed copy.

After you give the original a listen here, check out the acoustic unplugged version from our 2003 reunion project.

The Soldier

We all heed a certain call, our minds cannot control.
Drawn from deep within our hearts, and deep within our soul.
Time and time I’m taken back, to the man I was before.
When my call came to me, one I could not ignore.

I stand alone on a silent hill, with bloodstains on my hands.
My mind and body are trained to kill, and fight in foreign lands.
The fire that burns within my soul, can be seen in my eyes.
Give no quarter take it all. There is no compromise.

Out here in the fields. I can feel their eyes on me.
Some wounds never heal. What price for victory?

Up along the forward lines, no one seems to know.
Just how they reach into your minds, and never let you go.
I’ve lost all sense of place and time, my heart has gotten colder.
I’ll carry with me ’til the day I die, the burdens of a soldier.

Out here in the fields. I can feel their eyes on me.
Some wounds never heal. What price for victory?
The shock of reality, yes it cuts just like a knife.
The scar that a soldier bears, he bears for life.

Listen children to my words, and hear what I must say.
Take your heart and hold it fast, and never let it stray.
Beware the war machine, for it feeds on death and fear.
Hatred gives it power, and our lifeblood oils the gears.

I am a soldier. I am a soldier.

Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

By far, The Soldier was our most popular song. It’s no surprise, since we were all in the Army when we met. We had a pretty loyal following in our built-in fan base. It should also be no surprise, given the title of the song, that this is personally the most cherished and meaningful of our songs.

Tony wrote this song somewhere around 1988, and it does an absolutely mesmerizing job of exploring the depths of the psyche of a soldier. If you or someone you know has served in the military, you’ll fundamentally “get” this song. It hits home.

Tony originally recorded a 4-track demo of the song, which had a different vocal arrangement than what we ended up recording at Woodhouse Studio. Over time, we drifted into the version that made it onto the album. My own acoustic/solo version has a slight variation on the album version as well.”

When we decided to make the record, The Soldier was the first Shadow song that we picked to be on the album. I remember some discussion around whether or not it should be the 1st track on the A side of the record, but we ended up going with Numbered Man instead, as it set a better pace for the rest of the album.

For what it’s worth, I still sing it in the shower today, 20+ years later.


Fate of Evil

With a flash of the steel, we’re gonna take the hill.
And send many men to their graves.
With a hilt made of gold, and our god in control,
We’re gonna fight ’til the last one is slain.

On the plains and the fields, of battle-stricken fear,
If this is the way, let it be.
We know what is right, and so we must fight.
It’s a hell of a price to be free.

Our god of earth and power, descends upon our soul.
Please help us fight the wicked. Please help us let them know.

We’re determined and willed, with ambition we’re filled.
We strike in the eve of the night.
With shield, mace, and sword, in the hands of our lord,
Destroy all the evil in sight.

Break / Solo

Our god of earth and power, descends upon our soul.
Please help us fight the wicked. Please help us let them know.
For the card they’ve dealt with evil, and the number that they’ve shown,
is cursed and bound in disbelief, in freedom’s name we call.

Screams filled with fright, we slash through the night.
We’re fighting as fierce as we can.
With the breaking of light, the last man loses sight.
His last glimpse of the seven who stand.

Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

This tune was one of the fast, pounding variety. Monte wrote this one, as he did so many, while we were still active duty in the Army in Germany. If you just read the lyrics, and take them at face-value, the story is your basic good-versus-evil story. Good, of course, wins, through superior belief in its divine protector.

As with several of our early tunes, there are artifacts of the cold-war laced throughout, despite the song having a very medieval setting (shield, mace, and sword!) You can see this in the lines referencing freedom. The price of victory and freedom is a theme that Tony also spoke to in the lyrics to The Soldier.

The fade out on this song was a little abrupt at the end. If memory serves me correctly, someone laughed or coughed, and it got picked up by one of the guitar mics. So we accelerated the drop of the master volume fader in the final mixdown. Why I remember that, I have no idea!

I definitely have two favorite parts of this song – a sentiment shared by the entire band, I think. Around 1:50 into the song, we go into a really cool bridge, then a solo. The bridge is really incredible, as it feeds into my second favorite part. As we come out of the lead solo, the ferocity of the vocals shift to a different gear entirely. The passion entwined in the line “cursed and bound in disbelief, in freedom’s name we call” is vintage Shadow.

Man of Glass

Something is wrong here, something is not right.
Oh I feel my lady’s touch, touching me with the night.
But her hands are so cold, and her thoughts are not white.
She loves in the darkness, she runs from the light.

Her skin is so cold, and her eyes rot with black.
Like the black widow, she sends chills down my back.
There’s something about her, I can’t let her go.
I can’t but knowing, she possessed my soul.

Chorus

Darkness is a river, darkness fills my eyes.
There’s such a sense of safety, in the warmth of darkness’ thighs.
Darkness is forever, darkness lights the skies.
I’m trapped here in my Darkness, in my dreams watch them fly.

One thing is to know her, one thing let her in.
It’s a whole new situation, I’m livin’ in sin.
Don’t you try to leave her, she won’t let you go.
She’s a one-way trip, and you’ll never go home.

Chorus

Take it from me, man, take my advice.
If you ever meet Darkness, you better run for your life.
Once I tried to leave her, I thought she’d let me pass.
Now she is my hammer, she’s turned me to glass.

She’s turned me to glass. Oh yeah.

Chorus

Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

Another Monte Starling classic, full of metaphors. It received some radio airplay on the underground metal stations here in the United States, which was pretty cool The song is basically about a woman named “Darkness”, who, well to put it bluntly, is a bit of a bitch. She’s hateful, deceitful, and your basic evil-incarnate type of gal.

She’ll lure you in, like the Black Widow, and fill your hopes and dreams with the prospect of the many wonderful things to come. But those things never materialize. Instead, the protagonist is resigned to being “trapped” forever in her web of deceit. An emotional “bridge too far”, if you will. Oh, and there was an escape attempt at one point, but alas, it was shattered like glass beneath Darkness’ hammer.

You will hear no finer display of bass guitar than what Monte laid down in these tracks. Monte played his bass with a pick, and he practically makes that sing during the intro bars. During the chorus lines, Monte goes all up and down the neck of that bass and really rips it up.

I really loved performing Man of Glass live. The song begins with this really cool riff in D Minor/C that Tony put together. When we’d start playing that riff live, invariably, the girls in the audience would start getting all mushy and start waving their cigarette lighters in the dark. Then, well, about a minute into the song, all hell breaks loose, and we start rocking it. It was quite confusing for them. Their boyfriends loved it, though :)

Nerves

I wake up in the mornin’ and I look upon the dawn.
And I wonder how the hell I find the strength to carry on.
The voices in my mind are weighing heavy on my soul.
And though I try to shake them, lord, they won’t leave me alone.

Chorus

One with the show, you ain’t worth nothing if you can’t get up and rock ‘n roll.
But when the theater’s empty and the stage begins to fall,
I close the door to my own world ’til the next curtain call.

Reality is just a burden, the past is just a dream.
The future is still cloaked in black, refusing to be seen.
And as I slowly lose my mind to fears I do not know,
the house lights all fade to black and it’s time to start the show.

Break / Solo

Chorus

All the world is but a stage, and life is just an act.
No matter what the admission is, the fans keep coming back.
Glory to the limelight, I’m a million miles away.
The chains of responsibility – all I’ve got to do is play.

Chorus

Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

The Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines “stage fright” as the “nervousness felt at appearing before an audience.” We simply defined it as a “bad case of the nerves.” This rockin’ tune is all about stage fright, and the mental preparations that go into standing in front of a bunch of strangers and performing your art.

This song was written just before Penner left to go back to the States (so just before I joined the band). As he noted in a comment below:

When we were writing this song, I was listening to a lot of Pink Floyd (Tony had informed me that this is where he got the name “Brain Damage” from). Anyways, one of the recurring themes of PF’s music is about how they would have to get themselves motivated to perform, both mentally and chemically. This song draws its inspiration from that premise, though Brain Damage/ Shadow NEVER had a problem getting ready to rehearse, perform or just simply ROCK!!! Damn, those were good times! – Jason Penner

Funny story. In the studio, we wanted to do a little something different with the ending of this song – not musically, just from a mixdown perspective. After we couldn’t really come up with anything, Thomas Schnabel, the German sound engineer basically just pulled the power plug on the reel machine as it was playing the mixdown to the DAT unit. So we ended up with this sort of “analog power outage” trailoff at the end. Pretty elaborate by the standards of the day. The funny thing is that this effect could be achieved now using digital tools with any number of freely available audio effect plugins. My, of my, how the world has changed! :)

I’ve always loved the rhythm behind the song. It has a very Judas Priest-like metal edge to it, but it also contains subtle elements of blues music. Whenever I would get into an “acoustic chill” mood, I would sing this song in a way that attempted to accentuate those underlying elements. This angle formed the basis of the acoustic version we recorded in 2003.

“Glory to the limelight, I’m a million miles away.” Classic line …


The B.D. Boogie

No need for lyrics here, folks. This is an instrumental. :)


Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

The B.D. Boogie is one of those songs that makes you want to drive fast, or jump up and down, or both. It’s the heavy metal version of a “pick me up and make me feel good” song.

The “B.D.” is a little bit of an Easter egg, typically only recognized by the folks that knew us or saw us play back in the day. It’s short for “Brain Damage”, the original name of the band. If you look carefully, you can also see the homage to the original name of the band on the album cover. The letters “BD” are etched into the forehead of the skull.

Tony, Monte, and Kirk used to launch off into this song at the start of our practice sessions, as it helped get them into a groove. Once you hear the song, you’ll understand why – it’s a pretty tight arrangement.

As a lead singer in a metal band, instrumental numbers give you a breather. But it’s also boring. You just sort of stand there, or hide behind something while the band rocks out on the song. It does give you more time to booze up or talk to chicks, though. I had this inflatable pink Flying V guitar, kinda like the one shown to the left here. I used to drag it out on stage towards the end of the song, and run around acting like a jack-ass with the guys and the crowd. Good stuff. :)


Iron Umbrella

Yield to me your metal heart, and offer me your vices.
The story ended at the start from certain sacrifices.
In our lives time comes and goes, and we don’t even know it.
Evil deals its deadly blow, in spinning victory shows it.

Oh won’t you hold me a place. Under your iron umbrella.
A place that is safe, from the acid rain.

Give to me stories untold, and let me know what lies there.
The storyline starts to unfold, into the mirror I stare.
Past a land marred thick in fear, I gazed, I touched, I pondered.
The seventh wonder did appear, and with it came the thunder.

Oh won’t you hold me a place. Under your iron umbrella.
A place that is safe, from all mortal pain.
Oh won’t you join me in arms, under your iron umbrella.
It’s safe, free, and warm. Under your iron umbrella.

Break / Solo

Oh won’t you hold me a place. Under your iron umbrella.
A place that is safe, from the acid rain.
Oh won’t you join me in arms, under your iron umbrella.
Protect me from harm, under your iron umbrella. Yeah.

Iron umbrella.
Iron umbrella.
Iron umbrella.
Alright.

Behind the Scenes / Song Notes

The opening line of this song is incredibly iconic as far as Shadow-lore goes. Aside from being simply an amazing bit of prose, it was also the very first words from a Shadow song broadcast via radio here in the United States.

Monte wrote this song in 1988, and it is a deep one, to say the least. In life, we all need shelter – shelter from the things we fear, or the things we simply want to avoid. Shelter comes in many forms, but in this context, the form is emotional protection. Everyone has, or wants, their “iron umbrella” – a place that provides that shelter. Nothing permeates the strength and coverage of one’s iron umbrella. Of course, you can’t provide your own iron umbrella – someone has to provide it for you.

We chose to use the name of this song as the name of the original 1989 vinyl release. If memory serves me correctly, it had to do with the cover art that Tony designed for the album cover. It basically looked like, well, an umbrella (as you can see in the image below).

Bottom 2/3 of the Album Cover

Again, there are subtle undertones of the cold war present in this song. For those too young to remember just how crazy the world was then, you can read this great historical overview. Even better, read this masterfully written article on what life was really like for military families in Schweinfurt, where we were stationed, just a few kilometers from our Communist adversaries.

All content is © Copyright 1988-2019 by the members of Shadow/Brain Damage (Scott Burkett, Tony Thornton, Kirk Strieter, Monte Starling, Jason Penner)

4 Comments

  1. When we were writing this song, I was listening to a lot of Pink Floyd (Tony had informed me that this is where he got the name “Brain Damage” from). Anyways, one of the recurring themes of PF’s music is about how they would have to get themselves motivated to perform, both mentally and chemically. This song draws its inspiration from that premise, though Brain Damage/ Shadow NEVER had a problem getting ready to rehearse, perform or just simply ROCK!!! Damn, those were good times!

  2. Good times, indeed. It was like a weekend that lasted for a couple of years :)

  3. Tony Thornton · February 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Another BD easter egg is on the forehead of the skull on the album cover…that’s not a crack, it’s the letters BD.

  4. Anyone remember what NRMF stands for?

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