Now five albums into their career something big is expected from Massachusetts Metal merchants SHADOWS FALL. Having stabilized their line up the band now focus attention and energy in recording a follow up to the very well received wall of Heavy Metal noise that was ‘’The Art Of Balance’’. Labelling SHADOWS FALL as simply a Thrash Metal band serves them a huge injustice. They straddle far more than just Thrash. For starters there’s far more Power Metal melody interweaved in just about every song than your average Thrash. Sure the vocals employ MACHINE HEAD and KILLSWITCH ENGAGE type animalistic hollering and the drumming is a thousand pounds a minute but there is so much more to SHADOWS FALL than just the stereo typical EXODUS/ TESTAMENT Thrash.
Opener ‘’The Light That Blinds’’ is a homage to METALLICA and SLAYER the acoustic introduction making way for a de-tuned brain hurting death roll of a riff. The vocals bite and snarl and the drums thunder. It’s Business as usual then. Stand out tracks include the Power Metal riffery of ‘’Act Of Contrition’’ The riffs pummel, the lead work from Jonathon Donais is excellent. ‘’What Drives The Weak’’ has another tasty Melodic Power Metal introduction that opens into a clean vocal from Brian Fair which is reminiscent of a Heavier Annihilator. ‘’ The Power Of I And I’’ has to be a particular stand out as the riffs pile up to nose bleed level whereas ‘’Ghosts Of Past Failures’’ is a glorious ICED EARTH type Power Metal workout. There’s more honing of anger and angst into a ferocious Metal onslaught on ‘’The War Within’’ and thankfully everything’s not a warp speed indeed some of SHADOWS FALL’S finest moments are acoustic and when the slow down to Power Metal speed.
I don’t think that ‘’The War Within’’ is much of an evolution from ‘’Art Of Balance’’ but it does have more twists and turns, more riffs, more ferocity and more Heavy Metal than you could wish for. In fact just what do you expect SHADOWS FALL to give us? This is Metal in 2004. It incorporates all that was good from the 80’s, from MAIDEN to the PRIEST to SLAYER and METALLICA to the new batch of Metal in the guise of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and SOILWORK and wraps it up in a thriving mass of the hardest hitting, intense Metal you could ask for. The riffs are powerful and complex, the solos run hysterically, the drums are the artillery barrage from hell. The vocal cuts from harsh to clean and yet amidst this sonic bombast is a technical proficiency that delights and terrifies in equal measures.
SHADOWS FALL is Metal in the year 2004 and one of the best there is. (Online November 2, 2004)