Hailing from a scene which gave rise to a number of successful metalcore acts during the early 2000’s¸ Shadows Fall are a band that have often been overlooked. With albums as consistent as their line up and a sound that crosses over numerous sub genres¸ it is slightly puzzling that this 5-piece haven’t garnered more attention over the years then say¸ All That Remains. The likelihood is that there are numerous contributory factors for this¸ however¸ the argument is in fact rather simple: Shadows Fall are too metal. Their sound is too convoluted for radio¸ their image is too metal for Hot Topic¸ their live show is energetic yet unpretentious and their musical influences date back further than five years. These metalcore veterans aren’t trying to be the next ‘big thing’; they just want to write some kick ass metal tunes and rock out.
Produced and co-written by metalcore handyman¸ Adam Dutkiewicz¸ ‘Fire from the Sky’ (the band’s seventh studio album) is a last man standing¸ battle royal of every sub genre of metal that you can think of. It’s heavy¸ it’s fast¸ it’s melodic¸ it’s progressive¸ it’s dark¸ it’s brutal – the list goes on. Boosted by a career-best production and some trimming in the song department¸ each song brings a new flavour and a growing sense that you are being taken on a musical journey. The track listing has clearly had some time spent on it and the result is an album that plays fluidly all the way from track one to ten. This is an art that is seldom practiced by bands today¸ but Shadows Fall acknowledge its importance and are all the better for it.
If predecessor ‘Retribution’ was Shadows Fall’s way of saying “Hey¸ we’re not done yet” then ‘Fire from the Sky’ is their “We told you so” ‘The Unknown’¸ ‘Divide and Conquer’ and ‘Weight of the World’ are staple Shadows Fall¸ whilst tracks such as ‘Walk the Edge’¸ ‘Nothing Remains’ and ‘Save Your Soul’ venture into new territory by drawing on some rock and glam influences (the latter of which is traditionally shunned by lovers of heavy music) The real show-stoppers however¸ are the title track and the epic ‘Blind Faith’. Shadows Fall putting out phenomenally well-balanced albums isn’t exactly anything new¸ but the quality to which that balance has been obtained on this album is truly remarkable.
‘Fire from the Sky’ is a superb album: it doesn’t wear you down or overstay its welcome. It comes in¸ gives you ten great tunes and then leaves again. It’s only real fault is the artwork. Whilst it fits the theme of the lyrics and the mood of some of the songs¸ it’s not particularly original or interesting. Apocalyptic wastelands¸ whilst ominous and intimidating¸ don’t really cut it anymore. Artwork aside¸ these Massachusetts masters have proved once again that there’s a real craft in making great albums. By far one of the most instantly likable records to come out this year so far¸ you’d be a little bit mad not to check it out.