|Review: Shadows Fall - The Art Of Balance|
|The Art Of Balance|
Label: Century Media Records
Year released: 2002
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: January 10, 2003
Reviewed by: Iwarrior
for:The Art Of Balance
Rated 1.75/5 (35%) (12 Votes)
Once upon a time there was a band named Metallica who found inspiration in the NWOBHM and created a new genre, becoming legends in the process. Ever since they forgot what they learned and began writing for radio, fans and critics alike have hoped for Metallica's second coming. Not only have they arrived in my opinion, but they’ve been here for years. They are called Shadows Fall and the albums that have made a believer out of me are Of One Blood and their latest, The Art Of Balance.
"Idle Hands", the galloping mid-tempo mauler of an opener, instantly made it clear to me just how important this band can and should become. As with Metallica’s early work, the magic and efficiency of the NWOBHM can be heard, but instead of filtering it through Motorhead, Shadows Fall burn it to a blackened crisp. The Art Of Balance is a Rainbow Bridge that links the metal of the early 80’s to the metal of the late 90’s and beyond. One only needs to hear tracks like "Mystery Of One Spirit" which plays In Flames’ hand only to trump them by invoking Iron Maiden and Accept halfway through.
New classics jump out from around nearly every corner. "Thoughts Without Words", which towards the middle, absorbs the infectious, funky misery of Down and expunges it via the cold machinery of Meshuggah. "Destroyer Of Senses" absolutely shatters with its nasty, reverberating riffage and the stirring penultimate track "A Fire In Babylon" succeeds as a philosophical and timely epic that Rush might have thought of had they formed in Britain circa 1980.
Yet The Art Of Balance is a slightly flawed diamond in my mind. I would have preferred the songs to be entirely done with the clean vocals which remind one of James Hetfield. The rough vocals don’t really detract much, but I get the vague feeling the record would have levelled the joint even more without them. I also felt that the reworked version of "Stepping Outside The Circle" was ever so slightly inferior than the version found on the band’s Deadworld EP. One other minor problem I had was with the band’s merely serviceable cover of Pink Floyd’s "Welcome To The Machine". I would have preferred and expected a band as inspired as Shadows Fall to pay homage to their fiercely metallic roots instead of remaking a song which has been well worn by rock radio and is far removed from where they come from.
Other than than those minor caveats, I am thoroughly enjoying The Art Of Balance for its craftsmanship, its intelligent songwriting, its marvelous guitar work, its thoughtful lyrics, its modern yet vintage riffery, and for the fact that it truly lives up to its title. Crusades have begun with lesser works than these. Here’s hoping that Shadows Fall never stray from the path.
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