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Shadows Fall The War Within

Shadows Fall - The War Within
01. The Light That Blinds
02. Enlightened By The Cold
03. Act Of Contrition
04. What Drives The Weak
05. Stillness
06. Inspiration On Demand
07. The Power Of I And I MP3
08. Ghosts Of Past Failures
09. Eternity Is Within
10. Those Who Cannot Speak
2004 Century Media Records

Reviewed by: Michael Gluck   //   Published: 10/1/2004

Shadows Fall set the bar so high for themselves with the 2000 release Of One Blood, an album so mature that it reflected music more often associated with a veteran band, that hopes were naturally dashed when the more modern, rock-oriented, and overall laidback album The Art Of Balance followed a couple of years later. The effort was a good album with strong songs, but far from the follow-up that their legion of new fans and especially patient older ones from the Sombre… era had been expecting. Pair that with a mushrooming of the metalcore movement, and Shadows Fall, musically at least, were in danger of being obscured by the other bands treading the path that Shadows Fall had paved. They were bands who sprouted to the forefront of modern metal based on the strength of one or two frighteningly good albums alone, as Shadows Fall had a few years earlier, and included the likes of Himsa, All That Remains, Bleeding Through, Lamb Of God, and Killswitch Engage. All Shadows Fall needed was one convincing and unforgettable thrash metal album to re-enter the quality and popularity race, in addition to a much-needed renovation to their sometimes lagging setlists. The War Within is that album.

It will most definitely be a surprise for fans and critics who had written off Shadows Fall in recent years that The War Within delivers itself with a fury and honoring of eighties metal guitar and vocal harmonies which many thought were long forgotten by the band after two albums of delivering exactly that. Shadows Fall are one of those metal bands where an album opener can set the tone for the type of thrashing that will be delivered in the songs to follow. The excellent opener "Idle Hands" set a tone for The Art Of Balance that did not accurately deliver on its initial promise, but that is not in question here on their new album. While the rock vibe is still evident in at least half of the tracks, including "Act Of Contrition" and "What Drives The Weak," it is wisely blended with competent traditional soloing which nostalgically extends to a full minute, extended Metallica-esque bridges (as in "Enlightened By The Cold"), and mosh-inducing breakdowns strategically included for that purpose exactly.

Even on the album's mid-paced tracks, an intense expression of texture almost always blankets the old-school influences, a telling outcome of both Jon Donais and Matt Bachand’s generation-bridging songwriting ability, and one that is sure to draw in new fans of all ages. Rest assured however, no matter how much Shadows Fall have changed since their early days, the original primary elements of their sound have continued to improve, especially Donais’ leads, which could very well be Shadows Fall’s deadliest weapon and biggest source of appeal to a discerning heavy metal scene which is quick to judge, easy to dismiss, and difficult to impress. Another outstanding regularity on The War Within are the inventive yet wholly fitting drum patterns of former Stigmata and Burning Human drummer Jason Bittner. Having apparently arrived late to the writing sessions of The Art Of Balance (clearly a handicap to the final product), adequate worldwide touring with Shadows Fall since the release of that album has allowed him to adapt his style and finally integrate into the band. Perhaps due to his coverage in Modern Drummer, sitting with the material for longer, a desire to create a more rumbling rhythm section, or a combination of the three, his flavorful drums let the music speak for itself, such as on the soon to be classic "Inspiration On Demand," yet completely destroy on tracks like "Those Who Cannot Speak," the album closer.

Bottom Line: The War Within is an album that ironically finds the balance between thrash, hardcore, and rock that The Art Of Balance failed to do. Much-missed Shadows Fall trademarks including massive double-bass beats and fills, hauntingly melodic vocals courtesy of Matt Bachand, and lethal guitar leads all return on this album. The band will never be as unendingly fast as they were on Of One Blood, a potentially sad revelation, but one that is largely offset by the sheer strength and honesty of this ten track beast.

logan_   posted 9/11/2006 8:33:56 AM
shadows are ace.
stop the bickering,
you are all putting casting on metal... stop it.

"This album has been put out 20 times over by Swedish bands ten years ago."
^^^ no mate, i think that would most likely be 20 albums that sounded like it.

i dont think killswitch are generic either... no more so than your own soul.
anonymous   posted 10/19/2004 2:06:18 PM
yes obscure crap, either montonous drone crap like khanate or slow, boring "ambient" non-metal like neurosis or old man gloom. i like my metal to bring the rock, not the nap. shadows fall is totally inspired, just because its on mtv once a week you dumbasses feel the need to knock it.
LifetoLifeless_   posted 10/18/2004 7:20:01 PM
Original or not, this album is great. Those of you who hate this album don't know good metal.
faggots, all of you_   posted 10/16/2004 12:21:05 PM
The people that are ripping on this don't listen to 18v or Atreyu. That one duder was right, they listen to obscure bands that don't make dull, uninspired drivel like this. They listen to bands that make unique music that isn't made for the sake of getting on Headbanger's Ball.
xbreed_   posted 10/15/2004 2:44:24 PM
same old shadows fall sound nothing new. waste of a cd Id say

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