Exactly the sort of odds 'n' sods record you'd expect as a parting gift to the label from a band on their way to supposedly greener pastures, "Fallout from the War" is being billed as a "companion piece" to 2004 breakthrough "The War Within". Comprised of reworked old stuff, new songs, and a few choice covers, the album keeps the band's name in the spotlight as they make the move to major-label land, and Century Media says goodbye to their biggest success story.
Fans of "The War Within" won't find any major surprises here — perhaps most intriguing is "Carpal Tunnel", a song that's both more wide-open, less riffy (perhaps because of the malady mentioned in the title?), and yet more intense than you'd expect (with a nice bass solo to boot). "Deadworld" is a pretty awesome song as well, a dense, multilayered, but catchy raveup. In fact, just about all of these tunes hold up as well as, if not better than, the material on "The War Within"!
Critics of this band frequently miss the point that SHADOWS FALL are getting more melodic and accessible, yes, but that they're doing it in an organic fashion — there's still a lot of thrash oozing out of the pores of these metalheads, and their organic, old-school-informed take on metalcore has so far managed to avoid most of that cloying buzzword's limitations. What will happen to them as small fish in a larger pond remains to be seen, but it should be obvious that the band has no intention of embarrassing themselves with weak material or an obvious dilution of what got them to where they are today.
The covers are interesting choices, obviously informed more by the band's personal heroes than out of any desire to appear cool. While I'm stoked to see anyone giving the criminally underrated ONLY LIVING WITNESS props, the heinously ProTooled vocals are a deterrent on this one — perhaps it would have been better to get original OLW vocalist Jonah Jenkins in for a guest spot instead? LEEWAY classic "Mark of the Squealer" fares much better, the spit and fire of old New York hardcore coming through intact. DANGEROUS TOYS chestnut "Teas'n, Pleas'n" is a hilarious way to end the album (and is that actually Jason McMaster I hear?), a little boogie-metal abandon to piss off the scene kids and close out SHADOWS FALL's underground tenure decidedly on their own terms.
It definitely falls into the "contractual obligation" category, and as long as we're trotting out clichés, let's use "for the diehards only" too. But "Fallout from the War" will not disappoint any fan of SHADOWS FALL — all their trademarks are in place, and their metal shows no sign of losing its luster. This is one case where any success that comes the band's way is a result of two things — talent and hard fucking work. I hope they sell a million.