I don’t know why, but I’ve kind of drifted away from Shadows Fall over the years; too much exposure to classics like the Art of Balance, albums never quite attaining the greatness of same and an over saturation of wannabe imitators all lead to a bit of staleness on this reviewer’s part, and there wasn’t a great deal of enthusiasm present as I slipped the band’s new CD into the MaF death deck to give it what I thought was a cursory listen before chucking it onto the ‘swap for beer tokens’ pile.
Judas H. Priest, I’m glad I decided to give it any kind of listen whatsoever, because Fire from the Sky is a bona fide great heavy metal record, bringing home the bacon on almost every track with the sort of efficiency only the very best direct-to-your-door-pig-meat delivery specialists can attain. Shadows Fall have been at this long enough now to have shed the need to attach themselves to any scene that happens to be, um, happening right now, so whilst there are still some trademark clean/shouty vocal juxtapositions – quite a lot actually, with vocalists Brian Fair and Matt Bachand weaving their respective roles deftly to create some nice ying and yang on the vocal front – they’ve moved ahead of the generic metalcore dullards flailing in their wake to create something altogether more ‘classic’ in sound.
Key to this is the consistently stunning axe assault of Bachand and six string cohort Jonathan Donais; Donais in particular dazzles throughout, adding more tasty shreds to this album than a Marmalade manufacturer on piece work, whilst Bachands nifty bludgeon augments the surgically precise soloing in fine, fine style – the band has been edging this way for some while, and this culmination of style transposition makes this record truly the most enjoyable SF album to listen to in aeons, believe me.
Something of a rebirth then, if only of this writer’s interest in a band he considered slightly moribund, but whatever your thoughts on this band’s progress over the last decade you’ll still want to be adding this at times incendiary album to your collection. Good stuff.