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Threads of Life

Shadows Fall

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Album Review

For anyone who thought Massachusetts' underground thrashers Shadows Fall may have sold out by signing to Atlantic, go look for the next underground big thing. This is a band well served by the move to a major. It sold over 300,000 copies of War Within on Century Media in 2004, and snagged a prime spot on the Ozfest tour. Like Mastodon and before them Slayer, Shadows Fall will benefit from better distribution, more tour support and bigger recording budgets. That said, the stakes are higher, too, and not just economically. Since 2004, when War Within was issued, the creative ante for thrash and death metal acts has been upped considerably by the sheer powerhouse excellence of Killswitch Engage and Trivium, who appeared on the scene and brought innovation, chops, and new blood to the underground. Shadows Fall looks back across the divide like a warlord and responds to the gauntlet being thrown down in the heavy metal world with Threads of Life. The most noticeable thing here is how bold it is. First there are the vocals of Brian Fair: he never hesitates to sing full-throated. Sure, there's a growl here and there (check the bust-up crack and smack of "Failure of the Devout" that sounds like a worshipful nod to Slayer,) and he digs right into the meat of the guitars and bass throb fury, and hurls his pipes up over the drums in the mix. But the cat is actually a singer. Check out the harmonies and all in "Stormwinds," or the political power ballad "Another Hero Lost," which ties on the New Wave of American Metal sign and wears it proudly. In other words, yeah, this is mainstream American metal, but it's so creatively compelling and so risky one has to hand it to them. That said, they've lost none of the fire, attack or attitude, check out "Just Another Nightmare," another thrasher, with words that can be understood at a hundred paces. Killer guitar breaks, big fat chugging riffs, power-slam skin work, cattle prod bass, and cool little hooks and melodic touches on top of those bludgeoning riffs make Threads of Life a major label debut of merit, and a metal record worthy of celebrating.

Biography

Formed: 1996 in Massachusetts

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although their music sometimes bears strong similarities to the technical, progressive brand of death metal centered around Gothenburg, Sweden and epitomized by bands like In Flames, Shadows Fall actually hail from Massachusetts. Guitarists Jonathan Donais and Matthew Bachand formed the band in 1996, and by the summer of the following year, the lineup had solidified with vocalist Phil Lebonte, bassist Paul Romanko, and drummer David Germain. Building their songs around the stop-start tempo and riff...
Full bio
Threads of Life, Shadows Fall
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