After letting it soak in for a bit, I found 2003's "Frail Words Collapse" to be a fierce metalcore release, and one that was more challenging than the standard fare of the time. The arrangements don't stick to a formula and are driven by a tight rhythm section (including some cool off-kilter rhythms, an awful kick-drum sound notwithstanding) and guitars ripping and tearing with a vengeance. I didn't find it to be a masterpiece by any means, but I do think that it had more character and personality than most metalcore releases. AS I LAY DYING's stellar live performance impressed the hell out of me as well.Given the preceding paragraph's set-up, you can guess where this review of "Shadows are Security" is going. It is a solid album and one that will surely appeal to the throngs of metalcore fans standing on what seems like every street corner. The problem I have with it is that it's now difficult to distinguish this band from the slew of similar acts. The choppy metalcore grooves, breakdowns, and stuttering riff chugs that sync up with the kick drums had me thinking KILLSWITCH ENGAGE or UNEARTH on several occasions. In fact, the production of Tim Lambesis and Phil Sgrosso is fuller than what is heard on "Frail Words Collapse" and sounds very similar to the work of KSE's Adam Dutkiewicz. Of course, the mixing and mastering of Andy Sneap certainly didn't hurt. The melodic clean vocal lines on "Confined", "The Darkest Nights", and "Through Struggle" are again quite familiar and also quite average, but they do break up the album nicely. Jordan Mancino's drumming is first rate and there are some sweet twin-guitar harmonies (courtesy of Sgrosso and Nick Hipa). The jagged riff edges of "Frail Words Collapse" have in large part been replaced by a smoother, more melodic delivery. I suppose I should also mention that ZAO's Dan Weyandt provides guest vocals on "Control is Dead". There is nothing particularly disagreeable to me about "Shadows are Security". Still, the only piece I heard on this album that brought out the unique personality and fire in the belly of "Frail Words Collapse" is album-closer "Illusions", a (welcome) black sheep compared to the rest of the tunes. There's not much else to say. "Shadows are Security" is a decent album. I just can't get too excited about it.
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