Fire From The Sky
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|5. Fire From the Sky|
|6. Save Your Soul|
|7. Blind Faith|
|8. Lost Within|
|9. Walk the Edge|
|10. The Wasteland|
2012 release from the American Metal outfit. Fire From The Sky was recorded at Zing Studios in Westfield, Massachusetts with longtime friend, producer/engineer and Killswitch Engage/Times Of Grace guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz. Adam D., was also intimately involved in the writing of the new material.
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If you've never heard Shadows Fall before, they sit on the Thrash Influenced but very melodic end of the Metalcore spectrum, like Rise To Remain and Trivium, as opposed to the heavier and more groove orientated end like Devildriver or Lamb Of God. If you don't like any Metalcore whatsoever, Shadows Fall aren't likely to change your mind, but if you do you'll likely find them a worthy addition to your collection.
The production job (by Killswitch Engage's Adam Dutkiewicz) is almost faultless and the entire band's performance is precise and confident as always. Jason Bittner's critically acclaimed drumming is excellent with pounding double-kicks and occasional blasts. Brain Fair's, Matt Bachand's & Jonathan Donais' three-tiered vocal approach is as good as it has always been, with an extra focus on background death-vocals this time around. The guitar work is peppered full of Thrash riffs, Shredding Solos and Melodic leads amid the usual Metalcore style, there are waves and waves of excellent guitar solos on this album that are great even by the band's own standards.
I would argue that the album starts off very well, and leads with some of its strongest material. When listening to these first few songs, even if you've liked the band all along, you get the feeling that Shadows Fall have become energized and have stepped up their game somewhat, tracks like `Nothing Remains' for example just have an extra spark of enthusiasm in them and would work amazingly well in a live environment.
Highlights include the pre-released Title Track, the closer `The Wasteland' and `Weight Of The World' which are three of the heaviest tracks and are all a bit more technical and death-influenced than recent records have been.
Another highlight is the bouncy `Walk The Edge' which is reminiscent of the band's bigger singles like `Redemption' and `The Light That Blinds' in its mixture of upbeat melodic moments, gang backing vocals and intermittent heavy sections, it bridges the gap rather well between this album and previous ones.
Overall, Fire From The Sky is not that dramatic a departure from the existing Shadows Fall style, so if you are sick of that or never liked it in the first place then this isn't something you'll fall in love with. There is a slight refocusing on the heavier side though, so it isn't just a carbon copy of their last album either. If you are up for more of what you already like, with a little twist, then the album will prove a superb addition to your existing collection.
Lyrically, Fire From the Sky has an interesting story behind it. Several songs address an "apocalypse," or "doomsday," and there are even some references towards the end of the Mayan calendar. We all know that is bogus, however its still interesting food for thought. The title track is about a dying star undergoing a supernova and destroying planets. Brian has always been one of my favorite lyricists in metal. His lyrics are intelligent and his degree in literature gives him a definite advantage.
There is also more emphasis on the interplay between Brian and Matt's vocals. On Threads of Life, Brian did most of the vocals, and I always thought this was a mistake. Matt has a very good voice, both cleans and growls, and I would say his cleans are better than Brian's. This album also has him growling more, something that was very sparse in their last two releases. Jon provides some backing vocals also.
Adam Dutkiewicz of Killswitch Engage produced this record. A longtime friend of the band, he did a stellar job and helped some with the recording process. I mention this because the acoustic beginning of "Blind Faith" sounds eerily similar to the beginning of "Just Barely Breathing" from Killswitch's 2002 Alive or Just Breathing. This is most likely a coincidence, but overall one can tell the Killswitch influence on this record.
The only problem I have is that I would have liked the songs to be a little longer. This album is, however, about the same length as The War Within, the band's best selling album. Retribution had several songs over 6 min, so the band is very capable of longer songs. I'm assuming it was planned to write shorter, high impact, songs. I also would have liked the clean vocals to be a little less produced. The cleans at the end of "Divide and Conquer" come to mind. There is nothing better than the raw, natural sound, of someone's voice - something autotune can't achieve. I am reminded of the "Welcome to the Machine" cover, and the beautiful, natural sounding vocals.
Overall, I would recommend this release. It's a huge step back towards the Shadows Fall several fans love.
They have moved more towards a traditional heavy metal sound on every release, which I don't consider a bad thing, but fans of the early albums will be happy to know that this album is much closer to that early sound than Threads Of Life or Retribution were. In fact, Fire From The Sky sounds like older SF combined with their newer stuff. If that's exactly what you are looking for, this will be a 5-star album for you.
As for me, I was hoping for more than more of the same. Don't get me wrong, I really like this album for what it is, but there's nothing on here that really surprised me or blew me away. Shadows Fall have never really been the type of band to drastically mess with their formula, but I can't help feeling like what I'm hearing here is the same thing as before just a little more polished. The biggest improvement I noticed is how good Brian's clean vocals have gotten. He has really come a long ways these last few releases; I'm impressed.
If you like the band, this album is worth your money. Just don't expect it to be a huge improvement from what they have done before.
This album is full of thrash, technical guitar, and heavy riffs. It's the Shadows Fall we all love. Like was said in another review, they seem energized and really put out a quality CD.
If you're a Shadows Fall fan, you have to get this album.