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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!