Released: 2006, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
When I spoke with Shadows Fall vocalist Brian Fair in October 2004, he seemed happy to be one of the marquee artists on Century Media Records and in regards to other metal bands who have jumped ship for major label glitz and glam, was quick to note that “I think we have just as much going for us as they do. Only we still have all the control.” Just weeks later, rumors began circulating that Shadows Fall was being scouted by the majors and soon after, it was announced they had signed with Atlantic Records. So after boasting two of the three biggest-selling albums in Century Media history—2002’s THE ART OF BALANCE and 2004’s THE WAR WITHIN—Shadows Fall leaves the label with its final entry, FALLOUT FROM THE WAR. This is not a new CD but rather a collection of covers, leftovers from THE WAR WITHIN sessions and a few re-recordings of unreleased tracks from the band’s past. As a final chapter, FALLOUT FROM THE WAR is a fitting end and serves as a suitable springboard towards the band’s future. Unlike most collections of this type, FALLOUT FROM THE WAR is able to stand alongside the rest of the band’s catalogue and is not chalk full of filler, thus avoiding “for fans only” status. Not every song is a gem but when an album of leftovers is better than some other act’s full-fledged releases, you know a band has got something.
“In Effigy” and “Seize The Calm” are clearly taken from THE WAR WITHIN sessions as the whole vibe of the songs fits like a glove. Crystal-clear production, a generous of mix of melodic harmony vocals alongside Brian Fair’s roar and the oh-so-sweet riffing of Matt Bachand and Jon Donais make these certifiable Shadows Fall classics. “Will To Rebuild” and “Going, Going, Gone” thrash along with Jason Bittner’s stellar drumming backing everything up and solidifying what has become the band’s instantly recognizable mix of melody and aggression. “Deadworld,” re-recorded from the band’s 1996 demo and 2001 Japanese-only EP of the same name, is a clear departure from band’s breakthrough material and owes more to the rawness found on 2000’s OF ONE BLOOD album. All the ingredients are in place with some searing leads and a crushingly heavy chorus. “This Is My Own,” a bonus track on the Japanese version of THE ART OF BALANCE, shows the band beginning to come into their own (no pun intended) with a mixture of Bay Area-influenced thrash and metallic hardcore that so many other (lesser) bands have copied since. Fair’s under-utilized clean vocals are given proper treatment on an obscure cover of “December,” a track originally done by the Massachusetts hardcore band, Only Living Witness, in 1993. A thrashy rendition of Leeway’s “Mark of The Squealer” moves along nicely but of the three covers, Shadows Fall’s take on Dangerous Toys’ “Teas’n Pleas’n” is the highlight. Enlisting DT vocalist Jason McMaster to sing lead, Fair and the rest of the band are clearly having a ball with this one (originally found on THE WAR WITHIN’s Japanese release) including a blistering solo by Bachand.
As Shadows Fall sets sail for greener pastures and Century Media execs undoubtedly cry themselves to sleep at night over the loss, it is safe to say that everyone is rooting for Shadows Fall. The odds are against them because extreme metal has yet to strike gold on a major label unless you bring bands like Slipknot into the argument. If Shadows Fall’s output thus far is any indication, why shouldn’t they make it, but the fickle, commercially-driven masses will be the true judge of whether or not to pick up the new AFI or Shadows Fall sitting next to it. FALLOUT FROM THE WAR sees Shadows Fall leave the minor leagues on a high note, though, and if leftover material like this is what they have resting under their collective belt, the success they seek should find them quickly.
KILLER KUTS: “In Effigy,” “Will To Rebuild,” “Seize The Calm,” “This Is My Own”