Shadows Fall
The Art of Balance


5.0
classic

Review

by Shadows USER (89 Reviews)
June 14th, 2005 | 113 replies


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist


With the third installment in the Shadows Fall empire, the band not only took their level of musical talent to the next level, but also the extremity of the music they play. After Of One Blood, they moved from a more generic melodic metal style to more of a thrash metal type approach. This is faster, heavier, yet still equally as emotional in parts as anything else theyíve done in the past. Complex heavy riffing with insane guitar solos make up SFís guitar arsenal. The bass and drum attack provide somewhat of a rhythm attack while Brian Fairís unique vocal style makes them stand out in a crowd.

If youíve been a fan of the band from the beginning (or at least Of One Blood) then youíll definitely note some style progression here. They do it with every album. While OOB was a very melodic and lead guitar-oriented record, AOB is more straightforward metal. Its very heavy, fast, and riff-based music. Of course, they wouldnít dare leave out the immaculate guitar playing that Matt and Jon love so much. Jonís fantastic shred-happy guitar solos are laced throughout the entire album, while Mattís riffs are just unrelenting. Paulís bassage doesnít exactly stand out against the rest of the music, but he keeps in stride with Matt and Jon. Thatís no easy feat. Itís a shame Paul doesnít get more credit. Jason Bittner of course couldnít be forgotten. Heís won numerous awards since joining the Shads. His drumming often consists of traditional thrash beats, but his speed and technique are nothing to sneer at. Iíll do the stereotypical metal drummer thing and say he can double bass quite fast.

The album opener, Idle Hands, is a good symbol of what this album has in store. A fast, hard-hitting, unrelenting thrashy metal record. It opens the album with a nice kick in the face. The second track, Thoughts Without Words, is nothing but a flat out thrash metal song. The chorus is one of the most headbangable parts Iíve ever heard, and is quite fun to play on guitar. Stepping Outside the Circle is pretty much the same way as well. Fast and thrash the whole way through, except for the solo, which is long, epic, and emotional.

But donít misinterpret. This is not strictly a thrash album with a very linear progression for fifty minutes. This album has a diverse array of sounds. It has a little taste of all ends of the musical spectrum while still sticking to the Shadows Fall style. For example, Mystery of One Spirit is essentially power metal! It has the slightly cheesy-sounding lead-driven guitar riffs and the positive lyrics. All theyíre missing are some Lord of the Rings references and a picture of a dragon somewhere. The third track, Destroyer of Senses, is a fast, flowing moshfest. The first time I saw SF some guy broke his leg in the pit during this song. For three minutes it moves on with Matt and Jon doing a fast chord progression. It slows down during the chorus, but picks up. It doesnít have the usual guitar riffing style that most of their other stuff does, and is also quite short. If youíre still not impressed, then maybe youíll be interested in the cover of Pink Floydís Welcome to the Machine. It stays true to the original sound while simultaneously making it a heavier, modern sound. Its quite good, and Iím not even a Pink Floyd fan.

The Idiot Box is one of the most unique songs Iíve ever heard. It has unusual guitar riffs and a very strange solo. The pre-solo, by the way, sounds damn good. I donít think Iíve ever banged my head so hard. When I first heard this song I didnít know what to think; Iím glad I made the right choice.

Alright. So you know this record is fast and heavy. You know it has many different sounds. You know it has musicianship. What is it missing? Emotion! Honestly Ė if youíve heard this album and you think it lacks emotion, than youíre a complete fool. The title track, The Art of Balance, is 4-5 minutes of pure emotion. The clean guitar sections sounds incredible. Even more so after being led into by the low, electric intro solo. The guitar solo in Mystery of One Spirit is very metal and uplifting. I donít know why, but it just has a positive sound to it. God I love that stuff. The 7:30 epic track A Fire in Babylon is heavy and as meaningful as metal can be. Even with Matt doing death metal vocals it sounds emotional. The clean guitar break before the solo is incredible. I couldnít think of a better way to close an album (besides adding a cover).

I hope Iíve persuaded you into checking this out if you havenít. Of course, Iím no Nazi. If you donít like these guys, thatís fine too. Iím sure thereís some reason out there somewhere not to. But to me, Shadows Fall has a little of everything that makes metal good. The definition of a five-star rating fits this record perfectly for me.

Recommended tracks: All of them



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other reviews of this album
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The band's defining release....

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...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Arrakakaka
June 14th 2005


685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review man.

I want to get this album badly, but I don't feel like using cash.

Nice review again. :thumb:

Jawaharal
June 14th 2005


1832 Comments


nice review! Keep up the good work

seasonsintheabyss
June 14th 2005


3 Comments


Nice review man... I don't really know these guys but i'll buy an album cause i heard a ot of stuff on them


Shadows
Moderator
June 15th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Thanks for the compliments guys. And I must say, any money or time spent looking into this record is well worth it in my opinion.

XxDEATHBLOOMSxX
June 16th 2005


57 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

kickass band, probably my favorite at the moment

i dont like this one as much as Of One Blood, but its better than War Within, dont have their first one yet

my least favorite song on this one is Idiot Box and its still awesome

love Casting Shade

Shadows
Moderator
June 24th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Get their first one. It's got Phil Labonte at vocals, so it's not quite as good, but Lead Me Home is one of my favorite instrumental songs of all time.

masada
June 24th 2005


2733 Comments


Great review.

I don't really like Shadows Fall that much. I mean, they're alright, but they don't seem to stand out from any of the other metal bands right now. *hides under blanket*

Apathy
October 18th 2005


645 Comments


I agree. I find this album stock and boring. Brian Fair's vocals make me want to shoot myself, particularly his clean singing. They should firre him and keep Matt Bachand as a full-time singer.

Storm In A Teacup
October 18th 2005


13153 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I only have The War Within which I love, but find it to not be original which is the main downside. Plus, the backup singers voice is crap.

Leper Affinity
October 18th 2005


89 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes, the vocals are indeed the most widely debated aspect of their sound. Very hit-or-miss with people. Matt's not the best singer, but he's definitely gotten better over time. Brian can sing well, but his scream is where it gets questionable. I for one think they're not bad at all, but it definitely takes some getting used to. It bothered me at first, but now I think the vocals are one of their many distinguising traits.

The music, however, is good enough to outweigh any issue you may have with the vocals. The guitarsist have a riffing style that I've never heard in any other band. Their harmonizing is spot on and the soloing is incredible. Not to mention the amazing clean/acoustic sections.

Thor
December 10th 2005


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Actually Alexi is the future of shred guitar, but Jon is still very good too.

Shadows
Moderator
December 10th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I second that. Jon Donais is my idol.

I love his style because he's an insane shredder, but he doesn't succumb to worthless wanking like the so-called "guitar gods". All of his solos are littered with shredding, but he intertwines it with other methods of soloing tat accent the song and create a constant melody instead of simply showing off. I love solos like those on Of One Blood, Stepping Outside the Circle, and Thoughts Without Words. On The War Within he slowed it down a little but still turned out some incredible solo efforts like Stillness and Ghosts of Past Failures. Not to forget Matt though - together, these guys put out some of the best riffs I've ever heard. They've got every NWOAHM band easily beaten in terms of technical skill, and they put it to work in their music beautifully.

Shadows
Moderator
December 10th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Part II

Alexi is probably the faster shredder, but I think Jon is a better soloist/guitarist because of his style. It's very very distinct - I can always pick out a Donais solo compared to other guitarists.

Thor
December 10th 2005


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I should probably get this album. Is it better than The War Within?

Shadows
Moderator
December 10th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Precisely. He puts what he knows into his music but doesn't overdo it, and always manages to put out an amazing solo with plenty of emotion and plenty of metal. m/

Thor, I'd say this is better then The War Within. I love every single one of their albums, but this would be their heaviest and most technical.This Message Edited On 12.10.05

Thor
December 10th 2005


10200 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well if it's their heaviest AND most technical then you can expect me to get this very soon. :thumb:

spoon_of_grimbo
December 10th 2005


2241 Comments


amazing album, it could only have been bettered if theyd re-recorded "the first noble truth" for it, with better quality production than the crappy one on "of one blood."

inflames666
January 31st 2006


146 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good reveiw man. it definitely does the band/album justice.

PurpleHaze420
February 6th 2006


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My favorite album so far. This CD was put togather wonderfuly.
Nice work!

PurpleHaze420
February 6th 2006


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

**my favorite album by Shadows Fall that is**



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