Sound — 10
Ever since their debut release Somber Eyes To The Sky, Shadows Fall has been a band focused on fusing the sounds of metal, hardcore, rock, and thrash into their own sound. As line ups have changed and albums have been produced, the band has remained rooted in their desire to produce their own fusion of metal and rock. The Art of Balance showed that they could master melody and brutality while The War Within focused on pummeling the listener with old school thrash reminiscent to early Metallica. Fallout From The War was a great addition to War Within and brought the sound of The Art of Balance back. After finishing their long career with Century Media, they moved to Atlantic and produced their latest record Threads Of Life. Some devote Shadows Fall fans like myself cringed at the thought of working with Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Stone Sour, Rush) because there is always the fear of "selling out" especially with the fact that Nick is focused more in the production of rock. After listening to Threads of Life those fears can be pushed aside. Yes there is some change in the Shadows Fall sound but it's more of a natural evolution than a forced change. There are some classic sounding Shads songs like Failure of the Devout along with some more mellow songs like Another Hero Lost. People may be somewhat dissapointed if they are looking for another War Within for Threads is more like The Art of Balance than it's predecessor. Unlike The Art of Balance, Jason Bittner has a significantly drum sound and Brian Fair sings some instead of his trademark growl. In certain songs especially Redemption he does a good job harmonizing with Matt Bachand. Jon Donais's leads are blistering as usual and you can tell that he is highly influenced by Zakk Wylde even though it never interferes with originality. Occasionally an acoustic interlude will be included like previous albums and these once again fail to dissapoint. One thing that should be mentioned is in songs like Forevermore you can hear the great bass work by Paul Romanko which can be heard in other releases. In one of their "Webisodes" Paul mentioned he had to push making his bass tracks as perfect as possible because Nick is in fact a bass player himeself. Overall Threads of Life is able to encompass all the sounds that Shadows Fall have been so passionate about pursuing with a great preduction value on top of that.
Lyrics — 10
Although metal has been put down as having meaningless lyrics by some, bands of late have especially emphasized that metal is not just about Satanism or violence. That doesn't mean those lyrics aren't fun to listen to, they just start to lose credibility as more of the same lyrically is produced. The lyrics on Threads of Life do not seem particularly new for Shads but the lyrics do fit with the album. The lyrics are somewhat dark and talk about overcoming oppresion and the likes, nothing really new. As in previous Shadows Fall albums the delivery of the lyrics is really what distinguishes them from other bands. I guess it's kind of like the way good punk bands deliver their lyrics (not talking about the massive amount of fodder labeled as "punk" nowadays) it's the passionate grit of the vocals that captivates. Brian Fair may not be considered the best metal vocalist by some but he has a great ability to put a feeling on the vocals like he's straining his lung capacity to deliver the vocals. His vocals are a personal preference because I know plenty of people who are not a fan of his vocals.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall Threads of Life is a great purchase for any metal or hard rock fan. I know some people (especially some kids) will be turned off by some of the melodicism because they want balls out heaviness all the time. As an experienced metal listener and musician, the melodicism is extremely welcome especially since War Within felt like they were trying to hard to be "heavy." The last couple years have been great years for metal and this is album is no exception. I would proclaim that this has the potential to be a classic and is by far their best album to date. I feel extremely lucky to live in Western Massachusetts where several great bands have risen fairly recently. I guess one could call this Shads Sacrament if you are going to compare this album to any recent releases. I extremely recommend listening to this album, it will not dissapoint. I know I am giving this all 10's but I feel it truly deserves it. If it was stolen/lost I would definitely go out and buy it again. And if your wondering I pre-ordered this album and I'm not reviewing a bootleg downloaded from Limewire so it is the legit record that was reviewed.