"Madness in Manila"

(Everblack Industries/Ferret)

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RATING: 7.5/10

Upon the release of 2009's "Retribution", SHADOWS FALL renewed the faith of those (maybe fair-weather) fans not quite enamored with "Threads of Life". The return to form ripped, shredded, and hooked, and it offered no ammunition for the disbelievers to argue against SHADOWS FALL's position as a monstrous American metal band. As such, the timing of the "Madness in Manila" CD/DVD is right; a great way to refresh the memories of those who may have forgotten about the band's boundless energy and impressive chops, while rewarding the long-timers with an incendiary live document.

As far as gigs go, this one is a scorcher. The patented SHADOWS FALL riff crunch and red hot soloing combine with the vocals of energetic Brian Fair who switches from his scarred-throat bark to clean singing pretty well, if not always in key. But hey, it's a live performance, warts and all. Since "Redemption" hadn't yet been released at the time this show was recorded, only one song from that album ("Public Execution") was debuted, while several are included from "Threads of Life". The remainder of the set is packed with SHADOWS FALL classics including "Crushing Belial", an oldie from "Of One Blood" into which is breathed new life, as well as monster cuts from "The Art of Balance" and "The War Within", including "The Light that Blinds", "Thoughts Without Words", "Destroyer of Senses", "What Drives the Weak", and "The Power of I and I". The sound quality on the CD and DVD versions is excellent and the visuals on the latter are better than average, though not in any way over the top.

The story of the DVD concerns one crazy night in Manila and bonus footage from Korea, Japan, and the Philippines. "Madness in Manila" won't be considered the next "Live after Death" or "Strangers in the Night". It is, however, a hearty representation of SHADOWS FALL's performance prowess and offers a nice cross section of material from throughout the band's career.


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