Release DetailsLABEL Century Media
RELEASED ON 6/13/2006
Fallout From The War
posted on 6/2006 By:
A smart move by Century Media Records to milk the acne-scarred, wallet-chained Hot Topic crowd of every Shadows Fall dollar it can results in a fairly decent release that will appeal not only to those who headbanged to The War Within, but those who thought the latter didn’t quite live up to The Art of Balance.
The band’s Atlantic Records debut won’t come until early to mid 2007, so until then all The Shads fanatics must quench their inevitable thirst here. Described by the group’s singer, Brian Fair, as “a companion piece to The War Within,” the actual product will sound like much more than that to those who were disappointed by The War Within. While The War Within was a solid release, it was chock-full of mainstream pandering, the most obvious example being the single “What Drives the Weak.” The clean singing on said single led many to believe that the group was on a path of self-destruction. Those many should feel plenty safe on Fallout From the War, because none of the clean singing found on the most recent release will be found here.
“In Effigy” is slightly more clean than most of what can be heard on The Art of Balance, but it never approaches the blasphemy of “What Drives the Weak.” The lead guitar playing carries the song right into the chorus, but nothing is entirely sweet and sugary. In fact, there’s a considerable amount of grit attached not only to Fair’s vocals, but to the harmonies and duel-guitar melody. Testosterone is the driving theme and I can’t imagine too many spaghetti-strap clad young women will be rocking out to this alongside their Switchfoot records. If there were ever a time to crush Shadows Fall under a weak metalcore tag, the time is not now. Wait for the Atlantic Record’s debut, because you won’t find too many obvious weaknesses here.
The six original songs rock harder than most of The War Within. “Haunting Me Endlessly” is frantic, melodic, riff-laden, and chorus-driven, containing all the core elements that make Shadow’s Fall the leaders of the genre today. Remarkably, the same applies to the five other originals. Outstanding riffs pop up here and there between mediocre examples of Fair’s vocal talent, with Matthew Bachand and Jonathan Donais trading licks as if they were conjoined twins from birth. If anything propels this release above the rest of its genre, it’s the chemistry evident in its musicianship. All the original songs are tightly constructed and will undoubtedly serve as metalcore highlights at year’s end.
Cover tunes are interesting because they’re supposed to provide an obvious peek into the influences of the group committing themselves to them, and one certainly gets the sense that the bands who originally constructed these songs had an unquestionable influence on Shadows Fall. Leeway’s “December” is the first out of the gate and the most successfully covered tune of the three, mostly because Fair reaches his peak on the album here, six original songs be damned. There might be some digital effects being implemented, but if one ignores that for a second Fair sounds both more comfortable and passionate on this track than any other track found on the 11-song album. Only Living Witness’ “Mark of the Squealer” might be more in line with The Shad tradition, melding hardcore and metal, but it’s too straightforward to eclipse the more technical sounding “Mark of the Squealer.” The Dangerous Toys cover, while fun, is probably the weakest of the three, because it has very little replay value, being the most simple of the three included. Fair is at his best when riling in the blood and mood with the pigs of the metalcore world, and a Toys cover isn’t going to highlight his vocal strengths. Nonetheless, the playfulness is infectious, and the cover is worth a few good listens before falling just slightly flat compared to the rest of Fallout From the War.
Newcomers beware. This probably isn’t the album for those who aren’t seasoned metalcore aficionados. However, if you own the rest of the Shadows Fall discography, this is a must-buy. While I hesitate to call this a better listen than The War Within, simply because it feels less complete, those who enjoyed The Art of Balance slightly more than The War Within will probably celebrate this release more than those who found the latter stronger than the former.
posted on 6/2006 By:
Nothing screams “cash grab” or “contractual obligation” more than an album of leftovers and outtakes, yet a band has to be pretty daring to release one. Daring enough to believe that their fans will pay for an album off stuff that apparently wasn’t good enough for the proper full-length. Daring enough to try and convince us that that same material is suddenly good enough for release. Not only has Shadows Fall achieved the latter with Fallout from the War, they have come dangerously close to making people rethink how good The War Within actually was.
The simple fact of the matter is that I like this much better. Not that I felt The War Within was a complete pile of shit, it was just a bit polished with a few too many commercial leanings. This material goes right for the throat with the 1-2 punch of “In Effigy” and “Will to Rebuild”. Their thrash influences shine through here, and I had to wonder why these weren’t included on the album. Looking back, they would have been a bit out of place. The War Within had a definite vibe running through it and these sort of tracks would have smashed it to pieces. Most of the tracks after that fall into more familiar territory, although more akin to their The Art of Balance material. “Seize the Calm” stands out with its catchy riffs and chorus. “Deadworld” is another good one, that has seen previous release on an import EP and some random stateside compilations. The collection wraps up with three cover songs. The first, “December”, originally by Only Living Witness, is fairly bland, due in some part I’m sure to my complete unfamiliarity with the original. Next up, Leeway’s “Mark of the Squealer” is given the Shadows Fall treatment. Now this I like, with a great thrash/crossover vibe. But what the hell is this band doing covering Dangerous Toys? Well, it’s a poorly kept secret that the Shads love this band, so why not throw in a rockin’ version of “Teasin’, Pleasin’”? They even brought vocalist Jason McMaster into the studio to share vocal duties. Great fun, and a great way to further piss off scenester purists already mad that their next release will be on Atlantic Records.
Far more than a collection of half-assed outtakes, Fallout From the War probably could have been released as a proper album and no one would have known the difference. If you liked The War Within this will satiate your appetite for more of the same, while older fans will welcome the harder stuff as a throwback to their pre-Grammy nominated days. It’s good to hear that even with some of their recent “pop” tendencies, they can still kick an ass or two.
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