Massachusetts quintet Shadows Fall may have been eclipsed by geographical kinsmen Killswitch Engage primarily because, in contrast to Adam D and co, Shadows Fall purvey a harsher and generally more European-sounding brand of metal.
However, they have had their own brand of success with The Art Of Balance and The War Within, and before switching record labels, they managed to find time to team up with renowned producer Zeuss to churn out an album of reworked and previously unrecorded material plus a couple of obscure covers (no doubt to take the track listing into double figures and make this EP effort a full price release).
Opening in true time signature chaos, In Effigy states from the outset that this album shall be one of rumbling bass fury, crystal lead guitar work and brutal vocals that sit (thanks to the production mastery of Zeuss) perfectly next to each other, defined and pristine.
Haunting Me Endlessly gives Jason Bittner a chance to demonstrate why his double kick wizardry is earning him respect throughout the metal scene, and manages to prove in its four minutes that variety really is the spice, with smashing cymbals and driving beats. Meanwhile string man Jonathan Donais executes a blistering solo and demonstrates why bands like Shadows Fall are capable of such longevity.
Deadworld is rather a smashing tribute to Death and other metal bands who never quite got the exposure this quintet are currently receiving, with frontman Brian Fair’s quasi-Buddhist lyrical leanings provide some further aural nourishment. As if it was a Haunted B-side, This Is My Own is a thrash metal blast, complete with crunching cymbals and clichéd breakdown beats that are predictable, but executed with pure style and flair.
Opening with a swirl of feedback and growling bass, December is one of the most melodic vocal moments ever produced by Mr Fair, although his band still provides a crushing backing. Although the vocals do reek of too much vo-coder effect, this still makes for a nifty lesson in mastering the challenge of fusing melody and mayhem dexterously.
Going Going Gone is Kill ‘Em All era Metallica minus the crappy production (and subsequent performance coach). With cymbal chokes a-plenty, this tune will be devastating live, as Fair’s chant of “Rip it up, tear it down!” rings out atop a blaze of riffs and drum blasts.
Shadows Fall may be in danger of defining their own sound a little too well, but then again being instantly recognisable never did many lesser acts any harm now did it? This isn’t groundbreaking new material but I’ve certainly heard a lot worse churned out in the name of fulfilling contract obligations. Whilst the lack of an accompanying DVD or second disc of rarities may be the icing this cake lacks, there should be enough here to keep any diehard fan happy until next year’s new full-length release.