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Shadows Fall - "Fire From The Sky" (CD)

Shadows Fall - "Fire From The Sky" CD cover image

"Fire From The Sky" track listing:

1. The Unknown
2. Divide And Conquer
3. Weight Of The World
4. Nothing Remains
5. Fire From The Sky
6. Save Your Soul
7. Blind Faith
8. Lost Within
9. Walk The Edge
10. The Wasteland

Reviewed by on May 28, 2012

"This is what it sounds like when a band gets its mojo back."

This is what it sounds like when a band gets its mojo back. That's the first thought many fans will have upon listening to Shadows Fall's "Fire From The Sky," which recaptures the magic its earlier Century Media albums like "The Art Of Balance" and "The War Within." It isn't that the two albums the band recorded while under the Warner Bros. umbrella were terrible, by any means, but they — especially "Threads Of Life," recorded for Atlantic — both showed signs of the kind of edge-dulling that a major label deal can result in.

Now making its debut on the Razor & Tie label, the band seems a lot more comfortable in its skin than it's been in years, resulting in an album that embraces the brutality of the past, but without totally abandoning the more melodic bent of "Threads Of Life" and "Retribution."

Some have complained that Jonathan Donais' lead guitar work has been lacking since the heights of "The War Within." Within seconds of listening to the intricate opening and killer solo of the album's opener, "The Unknown," those complaints will likely cease. He and Matt Bachand create some of the band's most potent riffs in years on tracks like "Nothing Remains" and "Save Your Soul," which, with its classic metal vibe, feels very much akin to the "Bark At The Moon" cover the band recorded a few years back.

For sheer brutality, look no further than the title track, as well as the closer, "The Wasteland," which have death growls that wouldn't have felt out of place on "Of One Blood." The latter track also features some of Jason Bittner's best drumming on the album.

More than that, though, despite the somber, almost apocalyptic themes at play on many of the songs, it's obvious that the band had a blast recording them. Donais' guitars on on "Weight Of The World" have that "hey, look at what I can do" feel that will feel familiar to anyone who listened to the beginning of "The Light That Blinds" all those years ago. A lot of the credit for that has to go to producer Adam Dutkiewicz, an old friend of the Shadows Fall who produced the band's very first album, "Somber Eyes To The Sky."

All that said, one wishes Dutkiewicz and the band had allowed the vocals to go a little more natural on tracks like "Nothing Remains" and "Lost Within," both of which have Brian Fair's clean singing feeling quite over-produced and auto-tuned. The album does also feel a little on the short side, with just 10 tracks, and, of those, only one ("Blind Faith") stretching past the five-minute mark. Still, it's probably better to leave them wanting more than wanting less.

Shadows Fall comes roaring back — quite literally — on "Fire From The Sky," its most brutal album since "The War Within." Those missing the edge the band had on its earlier work will find plenty of it here, combined with a dash of the melodic sensibility of more recent releases.

Highs: "Fire From The Sky," "The Unknown" and "Save Your Soul"

Lows: Some over-produced vocals

Bottom line: A return to the more brutal sound of the band's earlier albums like "The Art Of Balance."

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)