Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Threads of alright - 69%

gasmask_colostomy, October 17th, 2016

I've had some of the songs from this album knocking around for a really long time and a while ago I saw a super-cheap CD of Threads of Life so decided to give the rest a try. Shadows Fall have always been a nearly band in my mind: they made it pretty big on the album previous to this in 2004 and I'm sure a lot of people are still paying attention, but for me they just never managed to get any release absolutely right or sufficiently meld together their stewpot of influences. Supposedly The Art of Balance was so named because of the band's effort to mix metal, hardcore, and rock, though I would add thrash and melodeath to that concoction, both of which are more evident in this release than any proceeding.

That hybridization of styles is certainly enough to lump the band with the "modern metal" tag, since the mixing of so many different influences has tended to produce a homogeneous sound that groups together bands like Trivium, Lamb of God, All That Remains, and so on. However, Shadows Fall had two distinct disadvantages compared to those bands from their inception up to this album - namely poor production and poor vocals. The production issues are not nearly so catastrophic as on Of One Blood, which nearly served to destroy an otherwise creative album, though there is still a dryness to the guitars and a slightly restrained drum sound that hold the band back from hitting huge at aggressive moments. That said, they escape from the Lamb of God pitfall, where the production is so souped-up and juicy that everything grooves even when it isn't supposed to, robbing songs of their danger and spontaneity. The other problem - that of the vocals - remains unsolved, although yet again isn't so glaringly obvious here. Brian Fair doesn't have a pleasant voice to listen to, either with his dry barks or odd, flu-ridden cleans. Neither voice is very tuneful, even when the guitarists contribute some more melodic vocals, some of which are decent, some of which are simply boring. I don't know, maybe Fair got the role because of his hair.

Anyway, the best part of this album is the guitars, not that that can surprise anyone after I've just complained about the vocals. The pair of Jonathon Donais and Matthew Bachand have a pretty good hold over lead and rhythm playing respectively, making songs dynamic and exciting for the most part. There is a nice thrashy riff on 'Failure of the Devout', some decent melodies on 'Redemption', and a cool bridge on 'Final Call', which are probably the highlights on the rhythm front. On the other hand, there are plenty of moments when the riffs just bunch together into two categories - that of the fast thrashy/modern metal style and that of the slamming metalcore one. Some songs, like 'Burning the Lives' and 'Dread Uprising', don't do enough to stand out from a host of other bands who were turning out a superficially "exciting" sound in 2007, but which really peddled the same tricks to death. The solos are a breath of fresh air to the album though, penetrating with greater precision and grace than before. They centre around the kind of melodeath break that billows out and seems to travel far from its starting point, meaning that Donais has thought out the progression of each lead carefully and ensured memorability over anything showy. The bass is not bad, being surprisingly audible and sometimes diverting, yet along with the drums root the sound quite firmly in the more limited arena of metalcore, providing a grooving and slamming quality to most of the songs.

Unlike the very creative Of One Blood, I can't sit through the whole album without feeling bored, since too many of the songs descend into samey passages, particularly verses which have less prominent riffs. 'Redemption' is a powerful opener, 'Failure of the Devout' has a more aggressive streak to it, and 'Forevermore' signs off on a pretty good note, but there's nothing truly exceptional to get too excited about, unless you still find those meat and potatoes riffs tasty after so many meals. 'Another Hero Lost' is a useful way to break up the album, since many groups might feel pressured to put the ballad at the end, though here it occupies the mid-section and actually sounds alright despite the vocals. If you've been enthusiastic about any of Shadows Fall's albums, you'll definitely want to check this one out, but if you don't have much stomach for metalcore or want the vocals to dominate, you're going to be a bit disappointed.

The Power of Sound - 90%

SilenceIsConsent, February 15th, 2012

By and large, I think metalcore stinks. And that's putting it politely. I don't like the majority of metalcore for a lot reasons. I find it extremely repetitive, contrite, and completely mindless over ninety percent of the time. But the key word in my statement is majority. There are a few metalcore bands out there that I do like to varying degrees, and one of them happens to be Shadows Fall. Shadows has always caught my attention for a variety of reasons, among which the band generally do not refer to themselves as a metalcore act and do a lot of things a real metal band would actually do in their music with some hardcore touches. A few years ago, I finally warmed up to the idea of purchasing a Shadows Fall album, and it so happened to be Threads of Life. I never got around to reviewing the album at the time, but eventually I decided that I needed to sit down and start thinking about what I actually thought about this album.

Threads of Life is one of those albums that may not be the best in it's class or in my collection, but it's one that keeps on coming back into my ears. For that reason alone, Threads of Life really is one of my favorite albums in my collection. It is a wonderful mix of quality vocals, thundering yet catchy rhythms, and a sense of looseness that any listener would be hard pressed to find in the metalcore genre. While I do have issues with Threads of Life, by and large this is a worthy album in my collection and easily one of the most accessible metal albums I have ever listened to.

The music on Threads of Life is extremely lose, flowing freely like water running downstream. That's the best way to describe it. It always moves forward, never stops and looks back on itself, and just sounds free. Much of that I feel can be attributed to drummer Jason Bittner. What Bittner may lack in outright speed or technicality, he always seems to make up for in force and precision. Nothing on Threads of Life is that insane in the technicality department, but he knows when to play the right stops at the right time, what double bass speed to use at each moment, and what drums to use for every situation and scenario. And each beat just sounds like it has a ton of force and emotion l I have only seen musically from working with conductors in a symphony orchestra. Bittner's role on Threads of Life is that of the conductor, every band member follows his lead in terms of tempo, volume, and force, and they are almost always spot on.

Guitar wise, this is where the hardcore elements I feel are shown the most. Some of the riffs have a legitimate hardcore feel to them with some of the chords that are used, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The riffs are never repetitive or staccatoed to the point where they need a synchronized bout of double bass to sound like they fit in, they sound like they belong. The same can be said of the harmonies that are pumped out by Matt Bachand and Jon Donais. The hooks that these harmonies are used for are always at the right moment, and never are they dragged out. Sometimes they are misplaced, like on the intro to Final Call and a few of the small breakdown sections, but by and large these two did a great job with riff and harmony construction and placement.

One of the initial reasons I was so drawn to Shadows Fall in the first place was lead guitarist Jon Donais, because most metalcore bands simply omit guitar solos all together. Donais has never been known as the best lead guitarist in the metalcore genre (that honor probably goes to Oli Herbert of fellow New Englanders All That Remains), but what he does do is construct strong solos that hardly sound repetitive even though they use the same tremolo picked pentatonic and harmonic scales over and over again. When I first listened to Threads of Life, I wondered how anyone could discern the solos of "Venomous" and "Failure of the Devout" apart from another, but now I understand why. These guitar solos are the kind that I love hearing on metal albums, because these are the kind of guitar solos that make a kid say "I wish I could play that!". They're memorable and awe striking without being overtly pretentious and technical, and that I think is what matters the most.

What sold me on Threads of Life particularly is the vocal performance. Brian Fair's vocals on Threads of Life are some of the best I have ever heard on any metal album. Part of the reason I love it is that Fair's voice rarely ever sounds forced. Fair largely left out long passages involving that deep growling that, while sounding legitimately like he's possessed, sounds overly forced and in the past I felt was used too much. Instead, he uses a more middle ground clean voice that stylistically sounds rather similar to James Hetfield. The way he projects himself throughout the verses of songs sound similar to the Metallica vocalist, though his voice is distinct (unlike a certain other metalcore vocalist) nonetheless. The operatic vocals are pretty quality for the most part, with both Brian and Matt Bachand providing loads of choir esque choruses that sound pretty good for the most part. Even the growling bits sound well placed. All the vocal styling contain pretty good vocal patterns, though some are a little odd and do not maximize the instrumental hooks behind them.

There's not too much wrong with Threads of Life in general. If I had two complaints, it would be regarding the bass and the lyrics. Paul Romanko is a decent bassist. You never really hear too much of him, though I think that might be more due to the mix then his actual playing. Still, most of the bass lines are pretty simple and follow the lead of the guitars. The one bit where he does kind of come out on his own is in this acoustic sort of interlude in "Fovermore", which sounds awesome, and that's pretty much all you hear of him. The lyrics on Threads of Life are the one aspect where I can say the band kind of fell on it's face. Nonsensical is the best way to describe them. Most of the songs are about introspective personal themes, but I never really like these lyrics since I think they are extremely melodramatic most of the time. These lyrics on Threads of Life are not necessarily overtly melodramatic, but I just do not understand what Shadows Fall is trying to get at with them. However, there are a few songs that kind of stray away from this mold. Failure of the Devout talks about the idiocy of religious radicalism, but the lyrics are just plain boring. Then there's Burning the Lives, which is some kind of conspiracy theorist anti new world order diatribe with stuff about the free mason. They are just boring and if anyone other than Brian Fair was singing them, a lot of people would say they sound downright stupid.

Despite what I may have said above, the mix on Threads of Life is a great mix. I love the way this album sounds. The drum tone in particular is one that I absolutely love. The drums sound wonderful, having a great cut in the mix and sounding incredibly forceful, especially the snare tone. I also love the guitar tone, it's one of the best I have heard on a metalcore album. The lead tone rules, with each note crystal clear and the solos sounding more than a bunch of squeals. The vocals are also perfectly clear and receive just the right balance in the mix. The bass could have been better, but I'm not complaining about it too much.


So all in all, Shadows Fall's Threads of Life is a quality album. Yes, it's metalcore and there's no denying that. But on that note, it's some of the most original sounding metalcore out there and it is utterly clear that Shadows Fall have made a record that really stands apart. No questions about it, this is one of the best metalcore albums I have ever heard, and I am very impressed by Threads of Life.

One of the best in contemporary metal releases - 85%

headbanger54, March 24th, 2008

Before I get going with this review, here's my past experiences with Shadows Fall. I've seen them twice in concert, both of which they were the most metal band there, and this is their only cd that I own. So I'm not all that familiar with their previous works, but judging from their live performances and from Threads of Life, I say with confidence that Shadows Fall is a strong force within today's metal world.

Critics can say what they will about ToL, but the truth is that for every negative aspect there are two things that are done extremely well. For every bit that's metalcore, there's more that is thrash. For every light part there is an aggresive feeling that over shadows it.

So basically this album is more of a thrash release than a metalcore release. Here's what makes it more thrashy, great riffs, mind blistering solos, pounding drums, aggresive vocalsm and oh yeah did I mention great riffs? For at least a good one-half of the album a metalhead should be headbanging with their devil horns up in the air. These aren't watered down metalcore riffs, these are fast and heavy......the way metal should be. Now although there is a ton of progression on Shadows Fall's part, there are still some metalcore parts to this album. For one, don't even listen to the song Final Call. It's a typical metalcore song with a real cheesy intro, whiny vocals, and breakdowns. That would probably be the only complete failure of a song on this album. Sure others may have metalcore parts, but the rest of the song will most likely kick ass! And then there are some songs which are just awesome all around such as, Forevermore, Dread Uprising, Failure of the Devout, and Venomous.

And although you may find yourself pitted against a shitty breakdown here and there, don't fret for there is still hope! And what's a better way than to kill a breakdown than to play a kickass solo?!?!? The soloing on ToL isn't completely original but damn these guitarists can play. The solos do a good job of bringing in a new and fresh feeling into the song after they've been played. Just listen to the solo in Dread Uprising and then tell me that the guitarists suck! I also find that the drumming is fairly impressive here. Unlike many bands today it doesn't sound like he's hitting every single thing that there is on his drum set all at once and really really fast. There's also not a whole bunch of blast beats and although the double bass is used extensively, the snare and symbols are used to create a good rythym on top of the relentless bass drums. While typing this review I'm frequently finding that my head is bobbing along with the beat. The bass is seldom heard except on Just Another Nightmare, where it shows that he can play his instrument, but it just got lost in the mix.

Finally the vocals. Brian Fair's vocals are nearly as distinct as is his hair. I would easily be able to pick out Shadows Fall from a bunch of other metalcore bands simply by the vocal style. For the most part its a low, aggresive growl which suits the music quite nicely. Not quite a death growl, but also not your average crappy metalcore "growls." The only complaint I have about the vocals are the Chorus sections on certain songs. It seems that this is still one metalcore aspect which Shadows Fall cannot shed. Fair switches from his aggresive vocal style to a "radio friendly" vocal style which quite plainly sounds like a bunch of whiny emo shit. Thank the gods it isn't like this all throughout the album, if so the metal part and entertainment value of ToL would be significantly lower.

And apart from the usual aggresive feeling of ToL, yes there are two ballads, The Great Collapse and Another Hero Lost. But wait, both of them are good! The Great Collapse is a ver short, sweet, and classical sounding song which brings in some nice atmosphere to the album. Another Hero Lost is definitely going to be a hit single if it already isn't. Maybe not amongst metalheads, but definitely amongst the rock crowd. But hell I like it, good lyrics, good vocals, and a kickass solo? Yeah it's approved in my book. In no way are these two songs a downer to the album.

Overall this cd is worth it and it proves that Shadows Fall is the dominant figure in the so called "New Wave of American Heavy Metal", a genre better defined as metalcore. And just remember that heavy metal is like an apple, nobody likes the core. Luckily with ToL it seems that Shadows Fall is going in a better direction and their next release should only be faster, heavier, and more metal.

Shadows Fall's evolution - 89%

Kingarty, June 20th, 2007

Bands evolve. It's as simple as that. There's nothing anybody can do about it. No artist can make the same record 10 times over a course of 20 years. Sounds change with the times. A perfect example of that is the new Shadows Fall album "Threads of Life". In some ways, this album is their best. In some other ways, this album is their worst. The best way to approach this album is with an open mind.

Being a diehard fan of Shadows Fall since the release of "The War Within" back in 2004, I was curious to see what Shadows Fall was going to do next. It seemed they followed the same general formula since 2000's "Of One Blood". This is also their first album on a major label, so that backed up my fear of their signature sound being compromised to meet public expectations.

Their new sound has many positives and some negatives as well. One positive is its production. The album has killer production and sounds awesome. You won't be disappointed by the quality of the sound. Another positive is the albums range and diversity. The guys really pushed the envelope. Threads of Life has the group’s catchiest hook (Redemption). When you hear this, you can't help but scream the chorus with Brian out loud and feel awesome about it. This album also has a full on power ballad (Another Hero Lost). The song sounds awesome. It sounds very melodic and beautiful. It wouldn't surprise me if people have cried to this song or played it at a funeral. If these things don't interest you much, then you will love what's up next. Threads of Life also sports what is probably Shadows Fall's most insane guitar solo (Dead Uprising). I've heard some insane guitar solo's before, and this one shocked the hell out of me. It had my head spinning for minutes. The lyrics are more of the same give or take. Lyrics range from sorrow to taking the power back. Not a positive but not a negative. Another big positive that I really love is the longevity. I've been listening to this album since it's been released on a steady and regular basis and it hasn't gotten old or boring yet. The album is very melodic, heavy, and fast. They broke their musical norm for sure.

However, this album isn't spotless. It had me scratching my head about a few things after the first listen. My biggest complaint about the new record is its overall consistency. Listening to this album all the way through gave me that feeling you get when someone spins you really fast on the merry-go-round. My head was spinning in confusion for a bit. One factor that led to my headache was the vocals. Duel vocal styles are cool. There's nothing wrong with them if you can pull them off. Brian can pull it off for sure, but he picks and chooses his times badly. I also believe that the order the songs were put in on the record has a lot to do with the inconsistency. Albums flow better if the quality of the songs flow in one direction. Whether it's the best songs are in the beginning and fade out or the other way around, flow is important because it keeps your attention. It seems that this album's song order can be defined as two good songs followed by one odd song followed by one awesome song followed by one bad song followed by three awesome songs and so on. The above statement isn't in direct relation to the songs on the record themselves, but more like a raw blue print. The album's error seem to be marginal and don't ruin the quality of the album.

If you're expecting the screaming of "Of One Blood" and the albums followed by it, you might be disappointed. You might think that Shadows Fall did what Trivium did and ripped off James Hetfield, but they didn't. There is still a considerable amount of his signature hardcore screaming on this record. This album is ground breaking for Shadows Fall musically. It's safe to say that they have begun a new chapter in their careers and it's interesting to see what they put out next!

Moving back in the right direction - 93%

o2w4e, April 9th, 2007

Shadows Fall’s last album, “The War Within” was somewhat of a disappointment but “Threads of Life” erases any thoughts I’ve had about their best being behind them. The new album isn’t as good as “Of One Blood” or “The Art of Balance,” but it’s still an amazing album and leaves very high hopes for the future.

“Threads of Life” kicks off with a barrage of thrashy riffage which leads to an almost Pantera like verse riff with Hetfield-esque vocals. The opening song, titled ‘Redemption’ is an excellent precursor for things to come. The thrash riffage, the haunting melodies, the very powerful clean vocals of guitarist Matt Bachand, the ripping soloing, and the masterful drumming are all showcased in this one track.

The vocals on this album are easily the best yet for this band. Brian Fair, the band’s front man with super long dread locks resembling sausages, has definitely evolved as a singer. He has much better control of his clean vocals, as evidenced in the beautiful ballad, ‘Another Hero Lost.’ He uses his Hetfield like rasp quite well, where it was more or less forced in the past. Still present is his signature hardcore style growl/scream. His is one of the more unique growls in modern metal. Fair does an excellent job mixing his vocals on this album. Matt Bachand’s clean vocals are very clear and powerful. The use of his voice has always been there, but not until ‘The War Within’ and now this album on an even larger scale have they really been put to use. His vocals combined with Brian Fair’s make for a truly unique vocal performance.

The lyrics are still dominated by thier trademark more positive than negative, introspective, being one with yourself, empowerment, themes. However, there are a couple exclusions. The track ‘Another Hero Lost,’ is an emotional ballad that seems to be based on a soldier, possibly wounded, in Iraq, or somewhere else overseas. ‘Failure of the Devout’ is a thrash-fest with riffs reminiscent of classic Slayer, that tells of the shortcomings of religion. This isn’t really anything new for Shadows Fall however, where this theme has been heard in earlier tracks such as ‘The Mystery of One Spirit’ from “The Art of Balance.”

As for the guitars, the rhythms are as strong as ever; a bit more thrash than the last album. They are more akin to “The Art of Balance” than “The War Within.” There are definitely still traces of both. Matt Bachand’s driving rhythms can hold up against the metal greats such as Metallica and Slayer. Much of the rhythms on this album bring to mind the pummeling, unrelenting, edge of Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning.” Then there’s Jonathan Donais’ lead playing. He may have already surpassed many of the metal legends who preceded him. His technical abilities are unquestionable. His soloing was a little disappointing on “The War Within,” but the epic solos of their earlier albums have returned with some fresh new melodies. Donais’ is as skilled a metal player as there ever was. On this effort, he has ripped out some blazing leads in the vein of Zakk Wylde as well as some haunting melodies to rival Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. The acoustic instrumental as well as the acoustic sections on other tracks such as “Final Call” are astoundingly good. Donais and Bachand have always been very good at crafting such beautiful passages though. This is one of the most entertaining aspects of their playing.

Jason Bittner’s drumming is as always, remarkable. He has easily become one of the best drummers in metal today. There is one thing in particular that sets him apart, especially on this album. He’s not constantly blastbeating, which seems to be a short coming of many modern metal drummers. Bittner comes up with many fresh, intricate runs, while still keeping true to the song and he never overdoes the double bass. Any metal drummer looking to take it to the next level should look into this album. Jason Bittner provides an excellent model for any aspiring drummer.

All in all, this is another great effort from Shadows Fall. They continue to find a way to set themselves apart from the bands in a scene they helped create. This record is in many ways more accessible than their previous offerings but this is no because of the move to a major label. Anyone who has listened intently to Shadows Fall through the years, will realize that this is the direction they were heading in all along. The vocals have gradually changed with every album. They have grown together as songwriters and with that, have crafted many excellent pieces on this album, “Threads of Life.” Shadows Fall belongs at the top of this genre.

A solid, if confused, effort. - 88%

Mustainica, April 7th, 2007

(Originally written for the Riff Repository: http://riffrepository.awardspace.com/ )

It pains me to give a Shadows Fall album bad marks, as they are probably my favorite group of the current crop of the so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal. Their first album on major label Atlantic (fifth overall), the Shads seem to fall prey to "the Black Album syndrome".

I had very high hopes for this album after hearing a very solid B-sides EP (Fallout From the War) and an extremely riffy single in the form of "Redemption". Sadly, as has been the case with many new releases these days, the single seems to actually be one of, if not the best song on the album. Redemption, the first track off of Threads of Life , kicks off the album in a badass, aggressive, slag of modern thrash. However, the songs that would ensue seem to not follow "Redemption"'s focused, yet modern approach.

Brian Fair has been quoted in several interviews as having said, "We just wanted to make a solid metal album." Shadows Fall did, in fact, accomplish just that. The problem is, while just about every track on the record is, in fact, 'solid', none of the tracks themselves stand out as particularly exceptional or new. The album seems to have a very "haven't I heard this before?" vibe going on, save the ballady, but surprisingly good, "Another Hero Lost". I can't recall an exact example, but I'm sure I've heard some of the very same chord progressions, if not carbon-copy riffs, in previous Shadows Fall songs.

I was not afraid when Brian Fair had said that Shadows Fall would be experimenting, especially after hearing the quality of "Redemption". It seems, however, that said experimentation actually translated into a streamlining, dare I say, watering-down-of-musicianship, kind of way. I'm not necessarily against going for a more accessible sound, provided it is done in style ( At the Gates' Slaughter of the Soul or Carcass' Heartwork come to mind). From a songwriting standpoint, Shadows Fall certainly succeeded in making the album more instantly 'catchy', in straightforward kind of way. However, when catchiness comes with the caveat of the songs sounding boring and/or repetitive, I think I'll take complexity any day.

It is this "almost, but not quite there" quality that makes Threads of Life seem to be confused as to what style it is trying to achieve. While at some points it seems like it might be going in a riffy, complex segment of old, it will randomly change to something anthemic and very basic. Sometimes the songs will have a thrashy old school feel (as on The War Within and The Art of Balance), but more often than not, we'll have sections or whole songs of the generic, arena metal ilk. This is what I mean by the "Black Album" syndrome. Much like Metallica's LP, Threads of Life shows elements of previous efforts that make the sound still distinctly both metal and Shadows Fall, but it treads very close to approaching a more generic, mainstream approach.

I will give some credit where credit is due, however. Brian Fair's vocal work is probably at its best and most varied on these songs. I'm not just talking about the pseudo-soulful crooning on "Another Hero Lost", either. Fair's typical shouty and clean vocals heard on prior releases are still used in heavy quantities, however, several different styles have been employed as well. "Redemption", for example, sees Fair going to a more mid-range, Hetfield-inspired bark. Its evident that fair has received at least some degree of training as there are times where he is certainly singing properly. Conversely, is it just me, or does the way Fair switches styles on "Dread Uprising" sound almost exactly like some song from the War Within sessions?

Despite my nit-picking, Threads of Life is by no means a 'bad' album. There are no poor songs in its entire forty-nine minutes of play; but there are no real standout ones, either. I guess when a band like Shadows Fall sets the bar as high as they have, you get a little disappointed when their newest disc doesn't give you that 'satisfied' feeling in your gut that you get when you listen to a very solid album. Despite outright denying that they would not change their sound for a major label, I get that sinking feeling that Shadows Fall is starting down along a path of more mainstream mediocrity. I hope I'm wrong.

Trying to be Thrash - Ends Up Confused - 70%

darkreif, April 4th, 2007

Threads of Life is a very confused album. Shadows Fall was going in the right direction with their previous album, The War Within but with the release of Threads of Life it seems as if Shadows Fall have added a little more than what the listener bargained for and it leaves both the listener and the album feeling a little confused.

Shadows Fall had been heading towards a thrash/metalcore combination with some of their last few releases and I was finally getting excited. This release was supposed to be the climax of the “thrashcore” sound. What I actually got was a combination of thrash, metalcore, and some classic metal. Some of you are saying “classic metal?” Allow me to explain myself. The music presented has many different influences.

The guitar work is where most of the influences lie. The album is full of thrash riffs, particularly in the first half of the album. “Failure of the Devout” has a killer thrash riff in the song. There are some awesome fast and dirty riffs presented and the dueling guitars work off of one another quite well. The solos in most of the first half of the album are really well thought out and emotional in their presentation. Shadows Fall has always had top notch guitar players and they are flaunting their talents.

The guitars also show quite a bit of melody on the album too. A ballad (Another Hero Lost) and an acoustic interlude (The Great Collapse) are two major melodic parts of the album but even in the middle of some songs the guitars bust out into a melodic section. Unfortunately, the songs also move into the cliché metalcore breakdown almost every song. This really breaks up the “melodic thrash” rhythm Shadows Fall gets going as the music breaks down (specifically in the latter half of the album) back into that metalcore sound that has become relatively hard to stomach.

The bass and drum work structure most of the songs nicely. Shadows Fall has always had a great drummer and there are times on Threads of Life where he even throws some good thrash drumming down. He varies away from the mediocre metalcore drumming and really lets his skins light up.

The bass work is well written and there are even a few moments where the bass takes the limelight and gets to shine as the music breaks. The bass has a progressive feeling at times when it breaks away from being strictly a structuring element and gets to play itself out like a guitar. Not the best bass work I’ve heard but it’s getting better.

By far the part of Shadows Fall that I hate the most is the vocals. Brian Fair has some of the strangest sounding vocals I’ve heard. His barking is literally…barking. His softer singing is a lot better than the gruff sound (he even tries some harsh sounding vocals – tries is the key word) but his voice just gets on my nerves. The more frequent use of Bachand (guitars) as a back up vocalist has become almost a gimmick. His higher pitch singing does compliment Fair’s vocals. In fact, I secretly hope that Fair gets benched and Bachand takes lead.

I think that the combination of different metal influences (metalcore, thrash, and classic) has opened a lot of doors for Shadows Fall. Unfortunately, they either need to shit or get off the pot. Right now it seems as if the band is just confused on what kind of metal they want to play. This in turn confuses me – and makes me feel as though the band needs to focus more. Shadows Fall is a work in progress once again.

Songs to check out: Burning the Lives, Failure of the Devout, Another Hero Lost.