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Fallen Martyr - "Shadows" (CD)

Fallen Martyr - "Shadows" CD cover image

"Shadows" track listing:

1. Revelry and Reverence (7:30)
2. Wake up, Its Time (5:00)
3. Therian Premonition (5:09)
4. Doubt (5:55)
5. The Restless King (4:08)
6. Passing through the Veil of The Exterior World (7:50)
7. Body of Light (6:06)
8. Invocation (2:43)
9. Cognitive Dissonance and the Children of Hamelin (6:59)
10. The 8th Circle (6:26)
11. Soul Left Bare (6:19)
12. (Cast Me Out) (7:30)

Reviewed by on June 6, 2012

"...'Shadows' is an eclectic album that may not be quite what fans were expecting. Although good overall, the album is a seriously mixed bag, as the group unmistakably forges ahead in some areas, but then seems to take a few steps backwards in others."

After the underappreciated EP “The Six Roots of True Will” (a release that has weathered the passage of years very well and can easily grow on a listener over time), Fallen Martyr is finally now unleashing a debut full-length with label support. Trying out new blends of musical styles and evolving the base sound, “Shadows” is an eclectic album that may not be quite what fans were expecting. Although good overall, the album is a seriously mixed bag, as the group unmistakably forges ahead in some areas, but then seems to take a few steps backwards in others.

Opening track “Revelry and Reverence” starts, with no warning, in the middle of a blistering guitar riff, almost like there was supposed to be an intro there that somehow got cut out. Despite the jarring introduction, the track is a solid introduction to the basic style of music that will be heard throughout the album: a melodic mix of the extreme and the clean, swinging between death and thrash with a good deal of prog influence.

Songs like “Cognitive Dissonance and the Children of Hamelin” will be familiar territory for fans, sounding much like what was found on the previous EP, but with a few new touches like piano and some different approaches to the clean vocals. Much of the rest of “Shadows” heads out in unexpected directions, however. “The Restless King” uses a purposefully scratchy, lo-fi sound and acoustic guitars to create a fascinating atmosphere, but unfortunately the annoying backing vocals tank the experiment. The same goes for the whining background “oooohs” coupled with ambient sounds on “The 8th Circle.” At six and a half minutes the song is kind of overkill, and could have easily just been an interlude. The wailing vocals and scratchy sounds from “The Restless King” return on closing track “Cast Me Out,” and the high pitched singing accompanied by ever-faster guitar work is almost unintentionally humorous.

It’s hard to fault the band too much for experimenting with sounds, however. The album is pretty much always trying something new and different, and while it doesn’t always work well (the random lo-fi black metal blast beats over clean vocals on “Soul Left Bare”), on the flipside it does lead to some spectacular results (the random appearance of techno on “Cognitive Dissonance…” or the chanting and electronic sounds on “Doubt”).

“Shadows” is overall less focused than the earlier and shorter EP release, showcasing a wider range of sounds as Fallen Martyr finds its footing in the world of full-length albums. It’s cool to hear the band expand its range and try new things, but unfortunately “Shadows” is much less cohesive than “The Six Roots of True Will” and ends up more like a collection of songs than a complete album.

Highs: More of the melodic mix of extreme and clean heard on previous releases, and some daring experimentation.

Lows: The annoyingly whiny vocals on several tracks really detract from the experience, the album is overall disjointed, and the sound quality is a bit rough.

Bottom line: Fallen Martyr experiments with new sounds on the band's debut full-length, succeeding in some areas but failing in others.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)