Shadows Fall has made its name as one of the most influential and popular metal bands of the last ten years. Despite this fact, 2009’s Retribution didn’t seem to catch as much of a buzz as some of their previous works. For my part, I thought this was unfortunate. The record contained some of the band’s best vocal melodies and guitar work, and I know many Shadows Fall fans must agree with me. However, with classics like The Art of Balance and The War Within in the rear-view mirror, the band has a lot to live up to. So in the year 2012, nearly ten years after their generation of bands burst onto the scene, how does Fire From the Sky stand up? Without a doubt, this is the album that Shadows Fallneeded to make. Its success comes from two juxtaposing elements, in that the album:
- Retains the band’s signature sound
- Moves in a new direction
When you listen to any song from Fire From the Sky, you can tell you’re listening to Shadows Fall. But at the same time, you can tell they didn’t just try to re-write one of their older records. Brian Fair’s voice is unmistakable, and as always Matt Bachand’s clean vocals provide an excellent sense of balance and variation. In fact, this album probably has the best mix of vocal styles of any Shadows Fall release. In one album, the listener is given Brian’s raspy shouts, along with a plethora of vocal harmonies…and there are even some death growls! The Lyrics don't contain anything groundbreaking, but they are executed in a way that fits with the dazzling and impressive song writing. Again, many of the metalcore riffs are here, along with plenty of guitar solos, things fans have come to expect from the band.
Towards the end of the record, the songs become slightly less memorable, and there are a couple weaknesses a fan could nit-pick about. The moments that the band chooses to do “gang-vocals” seem out of place, as the technique should only be used sparingly at those moments that fans can remember to participate. Even with these things in mind, the album packs enough consistency and welcome surprises to assuage the worries of any fan. Though I enjoyed standard Shadows Fall numbers like The Unknown and Weight of the World, I still can’t get over how awesome and heavy the title track and The Wasteland are. If there was any doubt of their ability to stay relevant and strong in 2012, Shadows Fall has set it ablaze with Fire From the Sky.
8 out of 10
Favorite Songs: The Unknown, Divide and Conquer, Weight of the World, Fire From the Sky, and (especially) The Wasteland