Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Shadows Fall - Fire From the Sky

Band: Shadows Fall
Album: Fire From the Sky
Year: 2012
Genre: Melodic Death/Thrash Metal
Country: USA

I have followed the career of Shadows Fall since I first heard The Art of Balance. I then went back and listened to their first two albums which were far more in the realm of melodic death metal and went forwards into the more melodic death and thrash/groove albums. While I wasn't too impressed with The War Within and hardly even touched Threads of Life, Retribution had everything I loved about the band in it. I am happy to say that SF continue in the direction of Retribution with Fire From the Sky.

One of the first big things I noticed was the improvement in use of clean vocals. The majority of the time Matthew Bachand and Jonathan Danais provide the cleans and do a fantastic job. In fact they seem to be given the main focus when it comes to actual singing which I am perfectly ok with. Listen to the strong choruses offered by The Unknown or Save Your Soul. Brian Fair provides his one of a kind hardcore like shouts with the same ferocity that he did on Retribution. Some people seem to not like Brian's style but I quite enjoy it. Its like a brand, as soon as you hear his screams you know exactly who you are listening to.

The guitar duo of Bachand and Donais is just as strong ever. FFtS contains really strong riffing like most of the band's back catalog. Its kind of hard to place the style the band plays based on the guitar riffs played. There are the groovy thrash riffs that are almost always present but the killer guitar harmonies used by most melodic death bands is also heavily used. Its safe to say the guitar parts straddle the line between melodic death and mid paced thrash which makes for a very melody driven sound. The solos are pretty great too. They carry a very 80s type of style to them, they are pretty showy at times though I wouldn't say they go into wank territory.

I love the drumming of Jason Bittner. Listen to the first 20 seconds of Fire From the Sky, or the blasts on Weight of the World. The guy knows what he is doing and the drumming is just as fun to listen to as the riffing. Unfortunately I cannot hear the bass of Paul Romanko. It seems like the bass has sort of been buried somewhere in the mix. As always it would be so much better if it played a stronger part in the music than it usually does.

Fire From the Sky successfully replicates the heaviness of Retribution while including a little more melody than that album. Any fan of the band should be happy with what FFtS offers. There are strong melodies, great soloing, and the cleans sound even better than they have in the past. I've easily given this album more listens than I usually do for a review and its simply because its all around just a really great release.

Score: 9/10
Standout Tracks: Save Your Soul, The Unknown, Fire From the Sky, The Wasteland

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