Shadows Fall have been very consistent over the years, and like Hatebreed it could be argued (exaggeratedly) that if you've heard one album then you've heard them all, although possibly excluding their debut with Phil Labonte on vocals instead of Brian Fair. If you've heard any previous Brain Fair era Shadows Fall album then you know what to expect, the only major changes over the years have been production value and the ratio of clean to heavy moments.
If you've never heard Shadows Fall before, they sit on the Thrash Influenced but very melodic end of the Metalcore spectrum, like Rise To Remain and Trivium, as opposed to the heavier and more groove orientated end like Devildriver or Lamb Of God. If you don't like any Metalcore whatsoever, Shadows Fall aren't likely to change your mind, but if you do you'll likely find them a worthy addition to your collection.
The production job (by Killswitch Engage's Adam Dutkiewicz) is almost faultless and the entire band's performance is precise and confident as always. Jason Bittner's critically acclaimed drumming is excellent with pounding double-kicks and occasional blasts. Brain Fair's, Matt Bachand's & Jonathan Donais' three-tiered vocal approach is as good as it has always been, with an extra focus on background death-vocals this time around. The guitar work is peppered full of Thrash riffs, Shredding Solos and Melodic leads amid the usual Metalcore style, there are waves and waves of excellent guitar solos on this album that are great even by the band's own standards.
I would argue that the album starts off very well, and leads with some of its strongest material. When listening to these first few songs, even if you've liked the band all along, you get the feeling that Shadows Fall have become energized and have stepped up their game somewhat, tracks like `Nothing Remains' for example just have an extra spark of enthusiasm in them and would work amazingly well in a live environment.
Highlights include the pre-released Title Track, the closer `The Wasteland' and `Weight Of The World' which are three of the heaviest tracks and are all a bit more technical and death-influenced than recent records have been.
Another highlight is the bouncy `Walk The Edge' which is reminiscent of the band's bigger singles like `Redemption' and `The Light That Blinds' in its mixture of upbeat melodic moments, gang backing vocals and intermittent heavy sections, it bridges the gap rather well between this album and previous ones.
Overall, Fire From The Sky is not that dramatic a departure from the existing Shadows Fall style, so if you are sick of that or never liked it in the first place then this isn't something you'll fall in love with. There is a slight refocusing on the heavier side though, so it isn't just a carbon copy of their last album either. If you are up for more of what you already like, with a little twist, then the album will prove a superb addition to your existing collection. Comment