For the most part, I am not so big on today's American metal scene. Sure, I liked Unearth's 2006 album, III: In the Eyes of Fire. I also enjoyed All That Remains' live show when they opened for DragonForce in Toronto last September. And I really enjoyed Killswitch Engage's As Daylight Dies album. But for the most part, the heavy metal sub-genre hasn't really done anything to capture my imagination. But then there's Shadows Fall. Formed in 1996 and hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, the quintet has released six albums, thus far, their latest being 2007's Threads of Life. And though I have not heard each of Shadows Fall's six albums, Threads of Life would definitely be one of their best. No, with Threads of Life Shadows Fall does not exactly eclipse The Art of Balance, and appears to be their maximum opus thus far. But what they do manage to release is an excellent collection of some of America's finest metal.
Now, there has always been some confusion over the band's sound. Some call them thrash metal. Others refer to them as metalcore. God forbid that someone mention thrashcore. However with Threads of Life, it seems clear to me what style of music Shadows Fall puts their efforts into. Pure, unadulterated thrash metal with a modern twist. And while that particular genre is quickly losing its grip over my musical interests, somehow Shadows Fall has managed to impress me thus far. Combining aggression and heaviness with technical, intricate riffing, the Boston natives tread a path attempted by many, yet successfully emulated by few. Energy, power, and emotion are the names of Shadows Fall's game, and throughout the 49 minute album, the band makes use of such traits rather well. Threads of Life's opening track, Redemption, is probably the song which does the best job in staying true to the aforementioned characteristics with its muscular riffs, effective use of melody, and excellent clean vocals. And while this seems to ring true for the opening track more than anything else on the album, songs such as the nearly seven minute epic, Final Call, or heartfelt Another Hero Lost. The former starts as one would expect a Shadows Fall song would start, with a fairly interesting lead from Jonathon Donais over a simple rhythm, but it eventually turns into a much more relentless, riff driven piece. At around three and a half minutes the heaviness stops completely and clean guitars take the spotlight. And while the clean sections are short lived in Final Call, they play an extremely large role in the second track I mentioned, Another Hero Lost. The album's ballad and superb offering, Another Hero Lost is one of the more emotional tracks to be found on Threads of Life. The acoustic guitars in which the track bases itself around early on is quite memorable and effective, as are Brain Fair's clean vocals.
While I quite enjoy Shadows Fall as a whole, some parts of the band are (or were) more difficult to get into than others. Vocalist Brian Fair's efforts were one of the issues I had with the band originally. Its not that he was a bad vocalist, because he certainly is not, his singing, shouting, and screaming were just somewhat difficult to digest. But that was quite awhile ago. Now days I've come to rather enjoy Fair's vocals. He will never go down as one of metal's top singers, but he can definitely get the job done. His clean singing, perhaps best heard in the aforementioned Another Hero Lost is where Brian excels the most, crafting vocal melodies which fit the song exceedingly well. His harsher vocals, the style which he makes use of is not quite as strong as the melodic style, but it compliments the music very well. Failure of the Devout is one song which Fair displays his talents behind the mic particularly effectively. His angry vocal lines fit the outraged lyrics of the song exceedingly well, and help deliver the song's message rather vividly.
With their first major label album, Threads of Life, Shadows Fall delivers their music vision with the excellence that listeners of the band have come to expect from the American metallers. Crushing thrash riffs, tasteful song writing, flashy yet to the point leads, and superb performances are all characteristics which can be used to describe Threads of Life, and fans of both thrash and the current wave of American metal should handily enjoy. Though not quite as strong as The Art of Balance, this new record is still a solid slab of metal and essential for all fans of Shadows Fall. Don't hesitate on picking it up.
Failure of the Devout
Another Hero Lost
Burning the Lives
I think that Shadows Fall did a phenomenal job on this album, their second favorite for me. Another Hero Lost is really uncharacteristic, it sounds like mainstream rock, but is done superbly. Still need some time to figure out my rating, but this annihilates The War Within. Jon Donais continues to be one of my favorite players in modern metal. Good review as well, I agree with alot of your points, although I do find Redemption to be one of the worst tracks on here.
This is a bloody terrible album. I personally think they've been going downhill since The War Within, and this confirms it. The songwriting is boring, they've toned down the aggression too much (that was part of what made them good), and it's just too...mainstream, for lack of a better word. It's too simple for them. The only song I can see standing out is Failure Of The Devout. Reminds me a bit of Stepping Outside The Circle.
This album was a pleasant surprise to me. To be honest, I was a little scared before listening to it. It has a good sense of melody, and some awesome thrash parts. I was a little disappointed to not hear a great deal of Brian's harsh vocals, but his greatly improved clean vocals I guess make up for it.
Overall a solid effort by one of America's premier metal acts.
So yeah I was halfway done with a review, was going to come back to it later and ended up playing a 6 hour game of poker, haha. They definitely toned down heaviness here but I feel as though the structures are somewhat interesting, more acoustic work, interesting time signature changes.
But seriously, where is Shadows himself? I can't believe someone beat HIM to a review.
Thanks Confessed2005! I was planning on checking out this album, but Im a little worried I will be dissappointed. Nevertheless, I will listen to this album with an open mind. Art of Balance was great, but The War Within and Fallout to the War were so overhyped. But they still had their moments.