Shadows Fall

The War Within

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When The Art of Balance arrived in 2002, Shadows Fall weren't much more than a blip on the metalcore radar, but a well-received spot on the Ozzfest tour, and the fact that the album lived up to what live audiences saw made them one of the rising stars of metal, period, with no need for the "-core" tag at all. They've grown beyond the confines of the metal-loving hardcore crowd anyway, with more in common now with the classic thrash of Metallica than the metal-tinged hardcore of Coalesce. With The War Within, Shadows Fall make their first bid at creating a great metal record and come close to the mark too, even if their effort to meet expectations is ultimately over-reaching. As much as the songs recall classic metal like Iron Maiden (the twin guitars of "Act of Contrition") and the aforementioned Metallica (perhaps a little too much on "Inspiration on Demand"), their desire to cram as much as possible into each one ultimately leaves them weaker creations. These are tracks that almost work, and for some, the emo choruses will be enough to carry them through the death metal riffs, and for others, the speeding thrash tempos will sit just fine next to Pantera-patented breakdowns, but pulling back for a full view reveals these impressive parts are attached to awkward children. The funny thing is, it isn't that different from The Art of Balance, but rather than tighten up the death/thrash/hardcore (Lego-core?) fusion that defined that album, they've let the parts run amok. There are exceptions, though, like "The Light That Binds," which starts the album, and "The Power of I and I," both of which prove that Shadows Fall do have a great metal record in them. It just hasn't gotten out yet.

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