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Shadows Fall's Best Full Length - 93%

RideForVengeance, July 3rd, 2014

Back in 1995, a 14 year old and a 17 year old got together and decided to start jamming out. 5 years later, this happened. Previously, they had released 1 demo, 1 EP, and 1 full length. Shadows Fall was a melodic death/thrash band up until this point. This album takes a different step than previously heard on their first release, the monster Somber Eyes to the Sky. Shortly after the album was released, Phil Labonte (All That Remains) was asked to leave the band, and in came Brian Fair. That is for the most part the biggest noticeable change on the album. Brian Fair has many vocal capabilities that Phil doesn't have, to be frank.

The album begins with an instrumental which is similar to the Slaughter of the Soul intro in that it is a short, 45 second swaying sound, that breaks into distorted electric guitars in Crushing Belial. One of the things that stands out the most in this album, is that all the songs are different, and yet they all seem to flow perfectly into each other. This album has a bit of everything, from true thrash metal (To Ashes) to melodic metalcore (The First Noble Truth) to extreme death metal (Revel in My Loss). 3 Of the songs are re-recorded from Somber Eyes to the Sky, these are Fleshold, Revel in My Loss, and To Ashes. These songs differ in part from the rest of the album because they are heavier than most of the other songs on the album. They also feel different, but they definitely aren't misplaced, as they flow very well with the rest of the album. Personally, my favorite songs on this album are Of One Blood, Root Bound Apollo, and Serenity.

Many of the songs on this album have fantastic leads in the solos, which are much more developed and better mapped out than in other albums. In Crushing Belial, the solo plays a nice, growing lead over acoustic guitars. Of One Blood has the longest and most complicated solo on the album. Revel in my Loss has a short 20 second solo at the end, which differs from the original version of the song. To Ashes has two solos, one of them is an acoustic solo, and the other a dual-lead solo. Serenity and Montauk have classic thrash/death metal solos. However, I must say my favorite on the album is by far in Root Bound Apollo. It is very reminiscent of a Metallica guitar solo, searingly fast, complicated hammer-ons and pull-offs, and tapping.

Overall, this album should please most metalheads, whether they like the Big 4, modern metalcore, or even extreme death metal. The clean singing of the majority of the choruses (with the exception of Revel in My Loss) brings a touch of sanity to the majority of the album, the hardcore shouts dominating the vocal section make this a much more accessible album than the monstrous Somber Eyes to the Sky. However, this is a much more death metal influenced album than a lot of their later music, which would make this much a less accessible album than a later release such as The War Within or Retribution. I would also recommend buying the 2008 re-issue, the difference between it and the original is literally night and day.

One thing from this album that differs from later albums is the absence of Jason Bittner. At the time, David Germain was the drummer for the band, and while Jason Bittner is an amazing drummer, I do prefer the drumming of David Germain a lot more. Unlike Jason Bittner, he doesn't abuse the double kick bass drum, and is much more technical than Bittner who I find is over-reliant on the double kick. This isn't saying that Germain doesn't use double kick, he just uses it when it is necessary and is even faster than Bittner at double kick. Another big difference is Brian Fairs vocals, instead of his signature scream, he does a growl more similar to Lamb of God vocalist Randy Blythe's death growl. Not all the vocals are done by Fair, however, as Shadows Fall from the earliest beginnings used its signature three-way vocalist method, which is exemplified on songs such as Of One Blood, and Revel in My Loss. In all the re-records, Phil Labonte's vocals are also used at point in the song. Go check this album out, I highly recommend it to any fan of heavy metal.