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metal's next gods? - 95%

ironasinmaiden, December 25th, 2002

Before Art of Balance, I was the quintessential Shadow's Fall fanboy... at least 5 of my friends received burnt copies of Of One Blood (some against their will :), and it spent countless hours in every CD player I own. Of One Blood is the perfect blend of Iron Maiden style melodies and death metal intensity, with a modern hardcore touch... not to mention HUGE vocal hooks. So to say I was anticipating Art of Balance is an understatement...

Well if I was a SF fanboy before now I'm the captain of their fuckin street team, cos Art Of Balance pummels me like a chess club member in a football game. This album is 100% METAL. One of those records that you can put on and feel the metal radiate through the speakers. These guys have matured alot in the 2 years since Of One Blood, and if this is any sign, there will be great things ahead for Shadows Fall.

First of all, the production is crushing, something that OoB sorely lacked, IMO. Coupled with the heavy-as-unholy-hell riffage and smashing double kick, Art of Balance is uncompromisingly intense in places (destroyer of senses... wow). The biggest improvement has to be Brian Fair's vocals... they have more presence than in the past, both shouted and clean. He has totally come into is own as a force to be reckoned with (as have the entire band).

Almost every trace of hardcore in SF's sound is gone, something that is bound to please the assholes who fancy them "hardcore with growled vocals". Songs like Thoughts Without Words and Stepping Outside the Circle are incredible thrashfests with killer riffs (check out the solo to thoughts without words... dammmmmmn) and memorable choruses. The title track is most definitely a highlight, bringing to mind Testament's "the ballad" among other things... in fact most of the album reminds me of Testament's glory days of the Legacy and New Order.

If you fancy yourself a metalhead, if you like metal in any way GET THIS ALBUM, you won't regret it. There aren't many bands playing straight up old school metal these days, and Shadows Fall do it.. .very... well. As mentioned in the review, these guys have something special as far as songwriting and talent goes, and they are going to be huge someday.