It’s hard to say which is more impressive on “Fire From the Sky,” the new album from Shadows Fall; is it the sheer number of metal shadings the band pulls into its sound or the masterful precision Shadows Fall employs in stitching together this multifaceted masterpiece?
“Fire From the Sky,” released May 15 on Razor & Tie, is relentless through 41 minutes as the band taps a vein of darkness to draw out bits of melodic hard-core and chunks of old-school head banging to add to its solid foundation of modern thrash.
Adam Dutkiewicz from Killswitch Engage produced “Fire From the Sky,” and this fellow Masshole knew how to get the best out of his comrades. Each song is layered and knotted with dynamic shifts and turns that create an overall huge sound. So even when idling, the tunes are ferocious. And when guitarist Jon Donais kicks in a rocketing solo, or bassist Paul Romanko conjures a pealing funeral bell, such accents are that much more pronounced against the hulking sonic background.
Singer Brian Fair is the ringleader here, swinging from thrash-y rasp to death growl to sinister big-rock invocations _ sometimes all within a single track. Whenever the singer seemingly hits a plateau, another element of the band_ be it a swelling vocal chorus, brutal rhythmic breakdown, or searing guitar work_ flares up, prompting Fair to make a stylistic leap.
Writing wise, Shadows Fall keeps it dark and angry. “The Unknown” and “The Wasteland” serve as towering bookends opening and closing the album respectively. Both are bleak and caustic, with the difference being how “The Unknown” is an inward lament and “The Wasteland” tallies destruction on the outside.
“Divide and Conquer” and “Blind Faith” have a political edge to them, the former happy to foment dissent and latter offering caution to those unwilling to question their leaders. The band responded to recent opiate-related deaths in the metal world with the Sabbath-y “Nothing Remains” and militant stomp of “Walk the Edge.”
“Fire From the Sky” is simply more world-class metal from Springfield’s under-sung demon sons.