FIRE FROM THE SKY
There's definitely some credit that has to be given to Shadows Fall. Without question, they are one of the most recognizable band from a collection of extreme metal bands to have broken out in the early 2000s. When you look at their contemporaries - God Forbid, Lamb Of God, Killswitch Engage - they fit perfectly in there with that small collection of bands that a lot of modern metalheads actually care about from release to release. To me personally, they've done the most with the least amount of "it" factor. To their credit (or discredit if you must), they have always featured a sound that's all their own while merging pieces parts from everything else around them.
Shadows Fall did put out a strong effort in 2009 with RETRIBUTION, and with FIRE FROM THE SKY they seem to have picked up where they left off. Full of song with chunky riffs, the combination of modern guitar mixed with old school riffs and fills, and the somewhat generic scream - sing - scream vocals, FIRE FROM THE SKY continues what was started with their last release. To be perfectly honest, this is a damn solid effort that showcases almost nothing new, unexpected or overly interesting...if that makes any sense at all. To explain that, the songs are all good, but you really don't even need to know the names of them as they all sound the same on this album and with virtually everything else these guys have done on the last 3 or 4 albums. There's some very mild differences, but they don't really lead you to think that something new and great has occurred. Songs like "Save Your Soul" could easily be mistaken for a Trivium outtake by any average fan of this musical genre. Vocalist Brian Fair mixing his screaming, singing and death metal barking around nicely to fit all the right spots on each song. Songs like "Weight Of The World" are standard issue for Fair, who is one of the more versatile vocalists making this style of music.
As always though, Fair is only one piece of the Shadows Fall puzzle. Jonathan Donais and Matt Bancand are, to me anyway, the sole reason to listen to Shadows Fall. They are about as good as any guitar duo today at mixing the downtuned modern riffage with a clear and undeniable showcase of respect to the old school metal riffing of the 80s metal thrashers. They put it all together on "Blind Faith"; a thrashing headbanger with an intricate intro that leads into an all out speed metal riff attack. As always, the band is rounded out solidly on every song by the much respected Jason Bittner on drums and Paul Romanko on bass. Bittner is a terrific drummer, and his excellent skills show through as they always do on every song he plays on.
PITRIFF RATING - 80/100 - Let's be honest here. Shadows Fall is never going to be the most creative or the "best" band in anyone's collection. That said, they are one of the most consistent, serviceable and entertaining acts in modern metal today. FIRE FROM THE SKY really doesn't do a lot as far as breaking any kind of new ground. I doubt it's meant to. Workmanlike effort from Fair and company.