Shadows Fall...where do I begin? After releasing their debut Somber Eyes to the Sky on Matt Bachand's label Lifeless Records, the band started to gather avid attention, including that of Century Media. After signing to CMR, the band put out the album Of One Blood, featuring new drummer David "The Knife" Germain. That album sparked a chain reaction that would result in them becoming one of the fastest growing (musically and in popularity) underground bands of today. The album did reasonably well, but it's success was nothing to write home about. Once again, the band acquired a new drummer, this time the stool would be filled by Jason Bittner. But then of course came the legendary Art of Balance. This record secured them as one of the leaders of the New Wave of American Heavy Metal. They set a record for most records sold on the Century Media label, one which I feel they deserved very much. After the Art of Balance sold 100,000 records, they had made their first long-lasting mark on the music world. After a mere two years of touring with little rest, the band went to the studio to record (pretty quickly) their fourth album - the War Within. The rest is yet to be seen, but perhaps the music will speak for itself.
Okay, I absolutely love this band with a firey passion, so I'll try and seem as unbiased as I can, although I generally only review albums I like.
The Light The Blinds - 4.5/5
Alright, I'm excited. It starts out with a great acoustic section, but turns into a raging metal song with the essentials - crazy guitar solo, double bass, heavy riffs...and that's only the intro. The pace is continued with Brian's vocals and the song becomes a great starter for the album. The two layers of screaming (recorded over each other) feel pretty chaotic. The slower parts keep the melodic sense and soon transition to an even better guitar solo (they seem to stick with what they're good at :thumb: ). This song all around shows the band from all perspectives. A good one for one not aquainted with them to get a feel of their music.
Enlightened By the Cold - 4/5
Focuses more on heaviness. It's also a reminder that if needed, Matt Bachand could easily take over vocals. Yeah, he sings quite a bit here, but thee's still plenty of screaming. The main riffs are nice, but nothing really stands out other than Matt's singing. A good follow up which leads into the next track (the first three seem linked for some reason).
Act of Contrition - 4.25/5
Pretty similar to the last track. I've got great memories of this song when I saw the Shads play it live at the Strhess Tour. Good stuff. Not quite as much heaviness with more emphasis on leads. I'm running out of ideas to write for this one, you sort of need to hear it for yourself.
What Drives the Weak - 5/5
Saw this one live too :thumb: (as well as the Power of I and I). Man, this is easily a highlight. The perfect blend of melody and heaviness - brutality with a softer side. The vocals here get pretty soft with clean and acoustic guitars backing Brian's singing. It gets heavier, but keeps with the lighter vocals. The main riffs are catchy as hell, and filled with the traditional Shadows Fall solo...two actually. It ends on a heavy note.
Stillness - 4.25/5
Holy ****, amazing intro! Many of you may have heard it - it's the song played on the intro movie to the band's home page. Sadly, it goes slightly down hill and breaks off from the atmosphere that the intro creates. It goes from 100% melody to about 80% heaviness with the other 20% falling into the "other" catergory. Once again, the main riff isn't the most unique. But it breaks into really heavy parts with obvious double bass, and strangely, the heaviness is created by the lead guitars instead of the heavy drop C riffs. It picks up near the end, and is definitely worth waiting out the whole song for.
Inspiration on Demand - 50/5
Alright, maybe I went a little overboard on the rating. This is probably the best song on the album. From start to finish, this is packed full of four minutes of amazing stuff. The beginning is pretty soft with clean guitars and singing. But soon it breaks into heaviness. The heavy riffgs are extremely melodic, while Brian and Matt's singing are truley beautiful. Matt's voice is perfect for the feeling of the song. It's pretty hard to describe, but it's one of the most amazing songs I've heard in a while. I urge everyone to listen to this song as soon as possible.
The Power of I and I - 4.75
I'm sure many or most people here have heard it. It was pretty **** close to being a 5. This is the heaviest song on the album. Quite possibly the heaviest Shadows Fall song period. Thescreaming seems heavier than usual, while the main structure is made up of double bass and heavy low pitched guitars. They do have the coveted solos in there, but not untill after the chorus. The singing in the chorus almost sounds like they have a whole chorus of voices with them. The song ends on a note of powerful and heavy sounds with Jason practically slamming his whole body weight on the drums.
Ghosts of Past Failures - 4.5/5
An intersting combination of sounds. Fans of the band know the sound - when they go soft, they usually have clean guitars, light drumming, and singing. Well this has all that, except with screaming instead of singing. Sort of an opposing effect. Then with the heavy riffs, etc. he decides to sing, sparking yet another uniue feel. The chorus always makes me think of a ghost, too (**** those song titles). Probably because of the odd recessed sound of the vocals. Anyhoo, let's move on.
Eternity is Within - 4.5/5
Thrash fans may relate to this song more then the others on the album. It's got enough heaviness to combat the Poewr of I and I, while producing good speed (almost the entire song is blast beats and double bass). It mailny keeps up that same rhythm for the whole song so it's one of the more angry tracks. The ending right before the solo is pretty ****ing mad as well.
Those Who Cannot Speak - 4.75/5
Anyone acquianted with the song Stepping Outside the Circle will unerstand what I'm trying to say here, because it closely resembles that combined with a Fire in Babylon. It starts out with beautiful acoustic intro and then becomes a fast song like Stepping Outside the Circle. It's got a nice atmosphere like a Fire in Babylon, but features several insane and emotional solos like Stepping Outside the Circle. The slow leads and main riffs are once again like a Fire in Babylon. It's tough to really describe this one unless you know their older stuff, but keep in mind that it's 5 and a half minutes of killer music!
Alright - before you people flame me for overblowing the album, bear a few things in mind. Yes, I am madly in love with this band, and I'm sure we all know how excited one gets when their favorite band puts out a new record. I'll be looking back on this constantly, and if the novelty wears off and even I start to think I made too much of it then I'll edit it. I know that most of you haven't even heard this yet, so at least do me a favor and listen to the entire CD before saying that I over did it. I tried to be realistic, but hey, maybe it really is just that good!
This is probably the bands most sophisticated work yet. The songs are excellently structured and their musicianship is high as usual. They seem to be making more use of the fact that they have two voices working for them, and the finished product is amazing. Some songs are softer than usuall, and some are heavier than usual. This really looks like the step forward they try to take with every album they put out. Whether it's better or worse then their earlier stuff is difficult to say...but I'll let you decide.
What Drives the Weak
Inspiration on Demand
The Power of I and I
Those Who Cannot Speak
Something for everyone, especially if you're already a fan of the band. Anyone who isn't or doesn't even know them should definitely check this out.
Final Rating - 4.5/5
Have a nice day.