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This is a surprisingly good album, given the circumstances of it's release (contractual obligation, in short). As the previous reviewer stated, this is basically a "leftovers" album, but I really dig it. A lot. I find myself listening to this album a lot more than Threads of Life or The Art of Balance. I think that's probably mostly due to the resemblence this album has to The War Within, my favorite Shadows Fall album. But enough about that, onto the actual review.
I'm going to do a bit of a track-by-track review, but bear with me, it won't be too bad. The first track is one of my favorites, In Effigy. When I first heard it, I felt like I was hit with a brick. It's not that it's necessarily that heavy, but it's aggressive as fuck and has some good drumming and riffing. It was the PERFECT track to start the album off with. The next song, Will to Rebuild, is good, but not much more than filler. The next two (Haunting Me Endlessly and Seize the Calm), however, have some very catchy, melodic choruses that I really dig, combined with the ALWAYS stellar riffing of Donais and Bachand. Carpal Tunnel, the 5th song on the album, is very melodic, which I think is a great contrast to Brian Fair's usual screaming. Both Deadworld and Going, Going, Gone have some really bouncy riffs and intense drumming. Brian Fair is still giving a superb vocal performance on these songs. This Is My Own isn't much more than another filler track, but it's got a very nice solo with some very fast double-kick work, thanks to a Mr. Jason Bittner. The 9th song on the album, December, is another favorite of mine. It has a cool feedback effect with a sort of galloping bassline in the beginning before it really kicks in. The one thing I love about this song (and many others on this album) is some much-needed bass features. The bass is both audible and many times the center of attention which is just great. Mark of the Squealer is okay. I'm not sure, but I believe this is a cover. I'm not sure by who and I've never heard the original, so I'm not going to bother reviewing it. It's just filler to me (but pretty groovy, so I can dig it).
The last song deserves a new paragraph. Teasn', Pleasn' has got to be one of my FAVORITE covers of all time. The original was killer anyway (done by Dangerous Toys), but this one is fucking amazing. I mean, they really didn't change much, but the guitars are heavier and much more distorted and Brian's voice, though drastically different from the original, is a perfect match for the song. In fact, this song got a friend of mine into Shadows Fall (he was already a Dangerous Toys fan).
Overall, this album was pretty much slapped together with some odds and ends, but even if all of the tracks weren't just recorded for this and there were some covers, it's still a great album. No matter where the songs are from (unused recordings for previous albums, bonus tracks, whatever), they still retain the great, quality musicianship you'd expect to find on any Shadows Fall album. Plus, the covers are VERY well done (well, one is; I have no idea how good the other is compared to the original, but it's still a good song in its own right). I don't once regret buying this album, even after finding out that it was just a rushed, half-assed effort. I mean, if every band that half-assed it made albums like this, bad albums would cease to exist!
In order to satisfy their recording commitment to Century Media, Shadows Fall had to release one final album under their label. Instead of recording a new full length album, the band kind of half-assed it and released Fallout from the War, which consists of leftovers from the recording sessions for The War Within album as well as a few bonus tracks and covers. Because of the above circumstances, this album had to be full length, but all the extra tracks hurt it, turning what would've been a killer EP into a mediocre album.
I really hate to admit it, but at least half of the songs on here are awesome, easily among the best material the band's ever done. The guitar solos are fantastic, Brian Fair sounds the best he ever has on vocals, and the songs are structured perfectly, mixing the heaviest riffing around with a brilliant sense of catchiness. Most of these are the leftovers from The War Within, songs that would have made that album even better. "Carpal Tunnel," "Going, Going, Gone," and "Haunting Me Endlessly" are prime examples. The lyrics on here still suck, but the music makes up for them. Then we have the two redone tracks from older sessions, "Deadworld" and "This is my Own." Some great lead work and muscianship, but they sound far more typical of the band's earlier, more generic metalcore style. The thing that really kills this are the cover songs. Three shitty renditions of three obscure shitty songs. That's a good 10-15 points off of this right there, though Shadows Fall faithful might enjoy them regardless.
If you like what Shadows Fall does, the really sweet songs on here make it worth picking up, but if you hate metalcore or filler, you won't want to bother with it.