At first listen I didn’t really respond to this album, the music didn’t seem as fresh as their earlier work and while the whole thing seemed to have the exact right formula, it lacked that special spark that made it great.
The album however, is a grower and persistence is certainly rewarded as the songs do become enjoyable and then memorable after a while, it’s got everything you want from Shadow’s Fall; The Metalcore tinged Thrash Metal style, plenty of guitar solos, the mix of classic and modern, the mix of clean acoustic sections with traditional heavy sections and of course the catchy singles (`Light that Blinds,’ and `What Drives The Weak,’)
The vocals have that usual Shadow’s Fall mixture of Brian Fair’s trademark loud and soft with Matt Bachand’s death growls and clean passages as well as a healthy amount of Exodus/Testament style gang backing vocals.
Also worth mentioning is the production, which is a lot clearer and crisper than the band’s previous effort. It seems like everything is just easier to hear and more even. At the time the album came out some magazines and even some fans claimed that this album was a step in the wrong direction, a bad effort or worse still, a giant sell out.
This idea should be ignored, the balance of heavy and light has barely shifted from 2002′s excellent The Art Of Balance album, the song writing is by no means poor and the musicianship is still top notch. Perhaps the reason for this attitude was the longer album length which meant critics had much more material to digest than the short and sweet predecessor, perhaps this album’s stronger focus on the band’s metalcore leanings than thrash leanings led people to confuse the variation with selling out, perhaps critics were just annoyed that the radio friendly `What Drives the Weak,’ won a Grammy, who knows ?
The important thing is that this album is just as heavy and more importantly, just as good as the albums that came after it, and the one that came before it. What you do have is a collection of finely produced, virtuosic metal that is never unpleasant to listen to.
Highlights include `Enlightened by the Cold,’ which is very much demonstrates the more metalcore direction of the band’s sound, `Eternity is Within,’ which is one of the heavier songs the band have to offer and `Stillness,’ which is grows better with each listen.
The album is a grower, so the more you listen to it the more you like it, all the clever drum fills and vocal hooks will work themselves under your skin and you’ll see that it very much deserves a place in your collection. This isn’t the weak link in the catalogue you may have been led to believe, in fact far from it! If you like Shadows Fall you should really give it a go.