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Shadows Fall’s album “Of One Blood” starts out with the track called ‘Pain Glass Vision,’ which sounds like the bowels of Hell or at least something just as demonic and ominous. It then moves into ‘Crushing Belial’ with a bang that continues through the entire album and only lets up enough for their haunting and alluring clean passages.
The guitars endlessly pummel your senses throughout this masterpiece of a disc. The merciless crunching rhythms and interweaving melodies pull an all-out assault on your ear drums until dragging you into a state of bliss with a beautiful clean passage then crashing through with more bludgeoning thrash riffs. Matt Bachand and Jon Donais team up to make one of the greatest metal guitar albums. They come together with some excellent dual harmonies then go their separate ways with Bachand beating you down with heavy often muted rhythms and Donais burning through his brilliant leads. The duos best guitar moment on this album, while difficult to choose, may be the solo section of the title track ‘Of One Blood.’ It begins with a dual harmonized lead then Donais takes off on a glorious solo all the while Bachand is riffing away. Then there’s tracks such as ‘The First Noble Truth’ where the chorus riff sounds almost punk while the leads take us on a journey of hope and ambition. “Fleshold” and “Revel in My Loss” use brutal start-stop main riffs to beat the listener down, while the chorus picks them back up, only to knock them back off their feat with another bruising riff. Donais’ soloing is magnificent, bringing to mind Kirk Hammett’s work from Metallica’s classics. In other areas, the guitarists are playing pure melodic death metal a la classic In Flames and At the Gates. Add some Testament-like clean sections and you have one of the most outstanding guitar performances ever on a metal record.
The vocals on this record are varied to say the least. Lead vocalist Brian Fair, and guitarists Donais and Bachand all contribute very distinctive styles on this album. Donais is in charge of the lower death metal growls, while Bachand handles the sparingly used clean singing on the disc. Brian Fair feels in the rest with his raspy clean vocals, his almost shouted chants and his unique brand of death metal growling. The band, as has become a trademark, is very good at mixing the vocals. Bachand sings a couple of solo sections during the clean parts of tracks ‘Crushing Belial’ and ‘To Ashes’ as well as a the chorus on another track. Brian Fair and Jonathan Donais combine on many phrases, with Fair doing the majority and Donais either starting or ending the line such as the pre-chorus section of ‘Montauk.’ Fair tends to go with his raspy clean vocals and growls most often. The best vocal performance on the album on the track ‘To Ashes,’ which features Fair’s best growling and singing as well as singing by Bachand including a heart wrenching clean section.
The drums on this album are played by David Germain. He performs solidly, however not nearly as well as the bands current drummer, Jason Bittner. The drumming is not great but not bad either. It’s definitely the low point of the album. You’ll find pretty good double bass drumming and everything else you’d expect from a metal album here. It’s not spectacular, but still very solid.
With “Of One Blood,” Shadows Fall has crafted a modern metal masterpiece. The raw, edgy guitar work of Donais’ and Bachand is the best feature of the album and makes them instant guitar gods. Bachand’s harsh riffing and Donais’ shredding will be enjoyed by metal heads for years to come. Brian Fair’s debut album with the band was a successful one for him. His vocals help provide them with a sound and variety of styles that are uniquely theirs. “Of One Blood” was Shadows Fall’s break into the “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” scene that is still going strong today with Shadows Fall as leaders of the pack.