The year is 1997. After bands like Pantera completely owned the early 1990s, a dark and smelly cloud reared it's head up. This cloud was nu-metal. With bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn stinking up the air waves on a national level, the true metal elite were waiting for something...a spark that would bring life back to an almost lifeless genre.
Let's shoot over to the states located in the northeast section of the United States, Massachusetts in particular. A storm was brewing patently claimed as "metalcore." As the name applies, it is a mix of heavy metal and hardcore influences. One of the bands emerging from this storm was Shadows Fall. Based out of Boston, this band did something different, something new. They brought a breath of fresh air to the underground metal scene at the time and slowly crept up throughout the masses. With their debut album "Somber Eyes To The Sky," Shadows Fall showed that metal would not be swept under a carpet.
Three years later they gained a reputation around Massachusetts area at the time. They dropped their vocalist and picked up a local from the band Overcast, this local was Brian Fair. They released their sophomore album "Of One Blood" under newfound band label Century Media Records. Releasing many demos of this album, music-goers around the country soon saw what would soon be the future of metal, and Shadows Fall slowly embarked on the shores of mainstream recognition.
"The sleeping giant is asleep no longer" - Iced Earth - "When The Eagle Cries"
Though this quote is used to explain something completely different, it works well with what was happening with metal. A change was underway, nu-metal was a thing of the past (for the most part), and a wave of metalcore bands began to overtake the metal world. With Shadows Fall's release of 2002's "Art of Balance," gaining newly acquired drummer Jason Bittner, they silenced everyone showing that they were definitely something worth taking note of. With this release, they began to show evolution from the previous records mixing more thrash/death metal to their arsenal. I believe it to still be their best release and a metal classic.
2004 saw the release of "The War Within." I remember seeing it at a local Best Buy and at a price of, I believe $7.99 at the time, I picked it up. I was blown away yet again by this band. They did something with this album, becoming the best selling album on the label (100,000 copies). An amazing feat indeed! I think they hit their mark with this record, more and more people were getting into them with this release and they gained a mess load of attention sporting magazine covers, doing interviews, and hitting another mainstream landmark. Now in most cases, when a metal band hits that "mainstream" mark they are dubbed to be "sell-outs," and are usually said to be "only in it for the money now." All of that is complete poppycock, as they have only proved that by getting bigger they've actually went the other way and gotten BETTER.
In comes this release "Fallout From The War," the aftermath of "The War Within." With enough spins in my car (cycling through it completely about four or five times) I believe I have enough information to do this review. Are you ready for the fallout"
Brian Fair - Vocals
Matt Bachand - Guitar/Vocals
Jonathan Donais - Lead Guitar/Vocals
Paul Romanko - Bass
Jason Bittner - Drums
= Quotes in bold are used from the booklet included with "Fallout From The War." =
1. In Effigy
"This is a nasty little thrash tune based on some ideas that Paul had been working on. The chorus came about during the recording of the album and it definitely added some new life to the tune. For the record, the solo break has more cymbal clutches than we thought humanly possible!"
Here we go! If you frequently visit the bands MySpace profile, this may have been the first song you heard from the album. Hitting immediately with a frantic riff and Brian's vocals, you can tell that you are in for a treat with this album. As the quote states, Paul created some ideas for this song. After I read that, I put the track on again and noticed that this IS a more bass oriented song with the numerous fills by Paul. The chorus comes in pretty quickly and you can tell Brian has changed his vocals a bit. Nice lead work accenting this chorus and you are then slaughtered with some punishing drumming and a really neat solo. For some reason, I didn't care too much for the soloing in this track. Back to the verse and chorus until the fade out. Good opener. Hits you in the face...hard! [4/5]
2. "Will To Rebuild"
"These riffs may date back a little while, but the lyrics are based on recent events. They are a testament to the strength and spirit of the people of the Gulf Coast in the wake of the Katrina disaster. New Orleans will rise again!"
This one starts off slower and has a heavier feel to it. It then slaps you into a heavier world! You can definitely tell that the lyrics are indeed about the Katrina disaster. I was really awaiting a slow, melancholic type of feel to this song the whole way through and was glad it wasn't. The drumming and double bass fills are really cool in this song. Boy, can Jason work that set or what" Brian shows the heavier side of his vocals in this song at various parts. Solo shoots in 2:15, and the end of the song comes shortly after. Good track. [3.5/5]
3. "Haunting Me Endlessly"
"Matt surely must have woke up on the pissed-off side of the bed when he came up with this one! By far the most death metal and brutal tune we have done in years. A nice southern rock chorus has been thrown in for good measure."
The nail was definitely hit on the head here...this is most definitely heavy! One of the better tracks on the album for me. Starts a bit slow, and you get somewhat of a Slayer-feeling when you hear the intro. The vocal overlapping is cool and adds a death-like snarl to it. I like it. Definitely a southern rock like chorus. Chorus rears its head twice and then you are catapulted into Mr. Donais' world of insane soloing, one of the coolest on the album. Cool rhythm change and bass fill afterwards. Slowly finds its way back to the chorus and neat steady ending to this song. [4.5/5]
4. "Seize The Calm"
"This song actually began life when we were out on the road. Matt and Jon had been recording some riffs during our down time which ultimately ended up as this song."
This is the shortest song on the album coming in a bit under three minutes, but it still hits pretty hard. It features a more lead oriented riff and one of the catchier choruses on the album. I like the guitar work during the chorus and the use of cymbals is cool too. The solo is a bit more emotional, opening with some bends and then a shredfest, again showing off Donais's fret mastery. It pummels HEAVY at the end of this song, REALLY heavy. I remember when my speakers in my car were vibrating my ankels and I never saw it coming. [3.5/5]
5. "Carpal Tunnel"
"This song is a microcosm of where Shadows Fall was heading: blending the speed and technicality of the past with the groove and melody we've brought more into the fold during the recent years. Lyrically speaking, this is for the people out there sitting around in their underwear talking shit on the Internet from their parent's basement."
The song starts off with a metalcore-esque chug chug chug-a-chug, and builds up more and more as the song progresses. The bass and drumming stand out the most in this track in my opinion. Cool bass fills color the track and the vocals are really fierce and have a bite behind them. I personally think the weakest part of this song is the lyrics. Really have nothing to them. Solos rocks in around the 2:20 mark, brings you back to points in "The War Within." This song is solid, but a bit more mediocre. [3.5/5]
6. "Going, Going, Gone"
"This is the closest we have ever come to writing a straight up in your face hardcore song. Jason came up with some riffs and after a turn through the metal meat-grinder we came out with our tribute to the original metal/hardcore crossover bands, namely The Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front."
Whew! This is a straight up hardcore song. Abrasive vocals, fast guitars, fast drumming, just FAST! Pretty cool that they did this and I'm glad they did it straighty up hardcore, no pinch harmonics, crazy leads, etc. You can definitely hear the Agnostic Front influence in this song. Chorused vocals at parts really add to the hardcore nature of the song, and the lyrics would definitely be something found in a hardcore "poetry" book, if there was one. For fans of the hardcore genre, this is a great song. Insane drum work throughout. Overall just a neat track, I'm not a huge hardcore fan myself, but the song is still solid. [3.5/5]
"This song's origin dates back to the very beginnings of Shadows Fall. In fact, this song was included on the demo that got us signed to Century Media. This, however, is the first version featuring Jason on drums as well as a few twists and turns. Is is cool to see how this song has grown throughout the years."
This song is one of the best on the album. Very lead based as you can tell from the intro. Slower and a bit ominous sounding, you await what this mammoth is going to turn into, much like "A Fire In Babylon" from "The Art of Balance." The song finally hits you at 1:30. Dual guitar harmonies, solid drumming, and good vocal and bass work. The lyrics are very well done as well. I love the chorus to this song, not exactly sure why. Sounds gross sounding (in a good way) due to the vocal mixing. This song has a couple rhythm changes in it which add to the diversity of this song. This reminds me of something that could've been featured on "Of One Blood." Slow and clean guitar part comes in with light drumming. The onslaught continues with a dissonant lead part in the background and ending on a very scary chorused mixed vocal part. One of the stronger points on the album. [4.5/5]
8. "This Is My Own"
" Originally only available as a Japanese bonus track, we decided to re-record this song and make it available everywhere. Some cool, new vocal harmonies and guitar overdubs add a whole new dimension to this song."
I am so glad they decided to make this available everywhere! Another one of the better tracks in my mind. Opens again with a Slayer like intro and mutates into a mega metal meltdown. Vocals kick in and those vocal harmonies are shown quickly. This song will definitely keep your headbanging and the guitars will ring through your ears as they are very catchy in this song. I love Jason shows his snare and double bass work a good amount on this song. Hardcore-esque breakdowns are shoved into the mix and add a bit of heaviness to it. Cool breakdown around the 2:45 region and a VERY cool vocal harmony jumps in followed by a groovy part immediately afterwards. I love the melody here, I get a Maiden type of feel from it, not sure why. Solo kicks in, one of the more technical and longer ones on the album, with some cool bass work in the background. The song ends soon afterwards thus ending the newer songs welcomed on the album. [4.5/5]
NOTE: *** I have yet to hear the original versions of the cover songs yet. I was going to review them as if they were original songs, but I thought about it and thought it wouldn't be fair. I will be finding these songs somehow, listen to them, and continue with the writing of this review. I'm very sorry to anyone that was awaiting reviews for these songs in particular. I will say after hearing all three tracks, my favorite have to be "Mark Of The Squealer" and especially "Teasn', Pleasn'"***
+ Bass and drum work is great.
+ Vocals have improved a bit.
+ Some cover songs.
- I found the production to be better in previous albums.
- Lyrics weren't the best in areas.
- Not as catchy as previous albums.
- Less lead work (could be good or bad, depending).
"Haunting Me Endlessly"
"This Is My Own"
If you're a Shadows Fall fan, you will more than likely like this album. It has more weak points than in previous albums and doesn't feel "complete" enough for me (not even sure if it was supposed to be considered to be so). I think it's a downgrade from previous works but not by too too much. I'm a huge fan and don't want to come off as being biased, one sided, etc. The songs are solid, and they still stay true. Great album in it's own right and hope everyone grabs a copy as it is an enjoyable listen.