SHADOWS FALL – Threads of Life

SHADOWS FALL have come a long way since their humble beginnings, having sold hundreds of thousands of albums, graced the Billboard charts, garnered a Grammy nomination, played on Ozzfest‘s main-stage, signed to a major label, and worked with producer Nick Raskulinecz (FOO FIGHTERS, VELVET REVOLVER, STONE SOUR, RUSH). Threads of Life, their first for Atlantic Records, is a thrash-fest that portends a band staying true to their roots despite all the success, acclaim, and being on a major label. The riff-tastic affair is a blend of old ANTHRAX, a touch of IRON MAIDEN, and new school metalcore. Guitarists Jonathan Donais and Matt Bachand are impressive from the onset as is drummer Jason Bittner. Donais and Bachand serve up some scorching fretwork while Bittner keeps hella busy pounding about–certainly a thrash-worthy foundation. Besides the crisp production, the performance of those guys gives the album (and band) a touch of promise. In the past, the band were plagued by rather poor and juvenile arranging and songwriting, but they have made some strides in that department. Riffs are no longer such a jigsaw mess (but variation and dynamics still leave a bit to be desired). Ultimately, SHADOWS FALL are still doomed by vocalist Brian Fair‘s mostly throwaway vocals. His atonal “clean” singing is horrific enough at times to make the hair on a cat stand up, while his “scream” singing is pretty one-dimensional in range and character. While SHADOWS FALL have come a long way, they still have long way to go if they want to take their music to the next level. Until then, they’ll still be just an overrated quintet from Springfield, Massachusetts. (Atlantic Records)