Shadows Fall – Retribution

A little over a year and a half ago I was on the East Coast and was able to catch the tail end of the last tour SHADOWS FALL did before writing / recording their new album, RETRIBUTION which is released on September 15. The reason I bring up this gig is the simple fact that they seemed like a band that had been defeated. Their peers in KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, being signed to Roadrunner Records had produced Gold Records and LAMB OF GOD, who signed to Epic have turned out 2 releases on a Major. Unfortunately, at the time SF signed to Atlantic, they were considered the top of the heap by many from this genre yet when they put out THREADS OF LIFE, all of their momentum suddenly stopped. First week numbers were extremely low and the album barely managed to sell 1/3 the amount of their monster, THE WAR WITHIN. Their set on this night in Baltimore was short, no encore, and something just wasn’t right.

Fast Forward to September 2009 and we have a different story. Could the title be a direct reflect from their past lackluster album and failure to launch to another level? Whatever the case may be, now on Everblack Industries/Ferret, the quintet brings us a 10-song offering that deserves a solid listen to understand that SHADOWS FALL is back! Musical Intro with the first track that segues into “My Demise” which shows they still can create the riffs and that vocalist BRIAN FAIR has not lost his growl by any means. Guitar whiz JONATHAN DONAIS shows off his YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN abilities in the solo in tonality and use of scales. First single, “Still I Rise” possesses that catchy riff that ANTHRAX may have utilized in their more popular stages. “War,” one of the fastest tracks on the album which is ironic in the fact that the lyrics are from BOB MARLEY (must be a dreadlock thing), but this song could have easily been on THE ART OF BALANCE. “King Of Nothing” sounds placed somewhere in the middle of The War Within with the breakdown feel, guitar melodies, and guitartonics in the solos.

Halfway through the album it’s realized that SF are committed to being themselves again and that they refuse to listen to anybody but themselves and producer ZEUSS. You can also find traces of past songs with “The Taste Of Fear” as it could be related to “What Drives The Weak” with similar parts and song pattern. “Embrace Annihilation” has a shuffle to its verses and drumming sensation JASON BITTNER shows enough restrain when needed and also adds some jazz-flavored ride cymbal work during the choruses to add some spice to the rice. And now the scarey revealing part of the album is the song “Picture Perfect” which if you can imagine SEBASTIAN BACH singing on the song you will hear SUBHUMAN RACE era SKID ROW. Hate me if you will, but if you know your music you will have to agree. After that flashback they go back to their past again with “A Public Execution” which could have been on OF ONE BLOOD and bares a resemblance to MEGADETH in some of the riffage. Album closer, “Dead And Gone” is typical for the boys from Massachusetts displaying all they own with thrashing, riffing, barking vocals coupled with clean vocal passages, time changes, double-kick, breakdowns, melodic guitar passages and solos that amaze with speed, accuracy, and uniqueness.

While there are some parts of the album that could have more thought put into them (unnecessary musical repetition or slow parts that add dynamic but aren’t necessarily needed), the Shads, should the public have an open mind to them still, should recapture what was lost on the last album. I do hope they can get some proper tours (as opposed to FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH) in the near future that will bring them back to the respect they deserve for their great outing on Retribution!

RATING: 8 / 10
LABEL: Everblack Industries / Ferret

By Mark Thompson


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