The Autumn Offering

Fear Will Cast No Shadow

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The Autumn Offering's third album gets a melodic boost from newcomer Matt McChesney, formerly of Hell's Within, who took over for departing vocalist Dennis Miller in early 2007. A new drummer, Allen Royal, also makes his debut, and the retooled band sounds energized as a result. Royal's feet hover around the kick drum, which he pummels vehemently and unrelentingly with both legs, but McChesney's metalcore pipes take the spotlight on this release. He mixes melody with aggression, beauty with menace, singing with screaming. Like Miller, he's a formidable (and somewhat scary) frontman, alternately growling his lyrics like a monster from a Wes Craven film and letting loose with bloodcurdling screams. Pair those vocals with the album's release date -- October 30th, or "Devil's Night" -- and you've got a record that inspires children to have nightmares and Tipper Gore to hold court hearings on censorship. Fear Will Cast No Shadow is simply creepy, despite the brief counterbalances that half-heartedly brighten the mood: a soothing piano interlude in "Crown Yourself a King, Kill Yourself a Queen"; traces of pop-metal melody in "A Great Distance"; similarities to Scott Weiland in McChesney's singing voice. Had the Autumn Offering played up those counterbalances, Fear Will Cast No Shadow would be a unique mix of metal traditions and fresh additions. Instead, the band focuses on a familiar agenda, and listeners are treated to the same metalcore tricks -- Nintendo-gone-metal riffage, double kickdrum pulses, and lyrics about blackened skies and bitter poisons. Metal purists won't find much to argue with here, but metal purists have also heard this done before.

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