SHADOWS FALL has remained one of those controversial bands that survived the flood of Metalcore not so long ago. The band’s latest record “Fire From The Sky," their eighth overall, is not going to shed the criticisms from the band’s style. In fact, it just might instigate even more. Like Frankenstein’s monster from the classic lore though, “Fire From The Sky” is an odd combination of parts all combined into a monstrous release that will ultimately be misunderstood by the greater Metal community.
For long time fans of the Massachusetts act, the more standard Metalcore sound is going to be a refreshing return to form. While their previous effort was a more intense and focused effort, this one pulls back from that and throws down a more formulaic and standard Metalcore sound. Combining the brilliant melodies and writing of “The War Within” and the experimentation of “Threads Of Life," “Fire From The Sky” is exactly what the fans want from SHADOWS FALL: ear-catching hooks, aggressive Hardcore and Thrash inspired energy, and just enough growth to make it all unique.
The basics of SHADOWS FALL remain the same even eight albums down the road. The riffs chunk with Thrash Metal spats to structure the album (since the more than impressive drumming loves to explode on its own) while the band cakes the entire listening experience with melodies both vocally and with guitar work. The leads and solos handedly win the album over, as they do with most of the band’s work, as they trade off soulful licks and technical wankery that eats up the listener like on the winding “Blind Faith” or the Thrashy single “The Unknown." The dueling vocal style of barking Hardcore inspired roars and soaring choruses definitely caters to the Metalcore audience and the band layers it on thick here. “Save Your Soul” ably utilizes it at it’s best with it’s insanely ear grabbing chorus.
It’s no secret that SHADOWS FALL pushes themselves as artists when it comes to expanding their music too. Although “Fire From The Sky” does it in a more cohesive manner than before as details to their overall Metalcore sound, it still rears its mug a few times on the record. The PANTERA like riff on “Nothing Remains” gives the song a bit of swagger and the guttural vocals on the trudging title track lend it towards Death Metal influenced moments. Even the Traditional Metal sound on “Walk The Edge” makes an appearance and justifies the talent that is displayed with this band.
“Fire From The Sky” took some time to grow on me, but this is their best effort in years. The more standard Metalcore foundations help it experiment in better ways and fans are simply going to latch onto the combination. My personal preference still lies with “Retribution” as their best since “War Within” as a couple tracks tend to be too formulaic for their own good here (“Lost Within” and “Divide And Conquer” come to mind), but the general efficiency of the record is well done.
Songs to check out: “Save Your Soul," “Fire From The Sky," “The Wasteland."
(Online May 18, 2012)