Letter To The Exiles
The Shadow Line
posted on 6/2010 By:
With Strikefirst Records, you generally know what you are getting: Christian metalcore/deathcore in recycled digipacks. And having some surprisingly good efforts from the likes of Earth From Above, The Great Commission, As Hell Retreats, Saving Grave and In the Midst of Lions, the label is giving their parent label, Facedown, a run for its money. Enter Long Island’s Letter to the Exiles, a Christian metalcore act featuring former Alove For Enemies vocalist Eric Barto and The Shadow Line, their second release (I missed the band's 2008 EP A Call to Arms) and a standard take on a metalcore ministry.
There’s nothing revolutionary on The Shadow Line if you’ve heard any of Facedown/Strikefirst’s metalcore acts or the likes of As I Lay Dying, War of Ages, Life in Your Way, Inked in Blood and such (or even Unearth for a non Christian comparison). This is melodic metalcore with plenty of galloping girth, breakdowns, a slight melodic death metal edge and the requisite moments of clean vocals and acoustic grace to purvey the praise of God and Christ. The thing is, Letters to the Exiles do it pretty well, if rather too familiarly.
After “Prelude”, “Oh! Holy Dread” kicks off rather impressively and has some very nice melodies, as does “It's Never Safe to Dream”, making for a pretty solid start to an album for which I had relatively low expectations. However, The Shadow Line then starts to kind of veer into territory I’ve heard way too many times. Not that this is bad, because it isn’t. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and frankly the album is better than War of Ages last disappointment, Eternal (and also better than As I Lay Dying’s latest). It’s just that it’s a tad redundant.
Still, there’s lots more enjoyable melodies (“Threnody”, "This is the Day, The Mourning") and passable breakdowns (“From Shadows to Substance”, “Martyrdom”), though nothing to loosen your fillings -- Impending Doom this is not -- and it is far more ‘metal’ than a lot of comparable acts on, say, Solid State Records, as there isn’t a clean croon or emo element in sight. And of course, the whole thing is flocked with that tangible sense of eyes-to-the-sky passion and hope that’s filling my very small Christian metalcore void ("Interlude").
If you are one of the few readers here who are into Christian metalcore/deathcore, I recommend this as a very solid release (as well as recommending labelmates As Hell Retreats' new effort). Just don’t expect anything earth-shattering. It should at least tide you over until the new A Plea For Purging album later this summer.
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