Shadows Fall - The Art Of Balance (Cover Artwork)

Shadows Fall

Shadows Fall: The Art Of BalanceThe Art Of Balance (2002)
Century Media

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

Contributed by: theundergroundscenetheundergroundscene
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Wow. If I left it at that I think you would get the point, but because I love this album so much I will elaborate. Simply put, Shadows Fall's new album "The Art of Balance" is an instant classic, and easily supplants their New England brothers in Killswitch Engage and Hatebreed as the best album I h.
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Wow. If I left it at that I think you would get the point, but because I love this album so much I will elaborate. Simply put, Shadows Fall's new album "The Art of Balance" is an instant classic, and easily supplants their New England brothers in Killswitch Engage and Hatebreed as the best album I have received in 2002. Their last album itself was an amazing album, but this is such a step up from "Of One Blood" in every aspect of the album, the vocals, the music, the song writing, the production, everything. It's an unbelievable step that I think is going to take them some places.

I really like the flow of this album. "Idle Hands" kicks off with some death metal growls and then pretty much blows you away. "Thoughts Without Words" keeps up the pace and provides an awesome breakdown at the end. "Destroyer Of Senses" is simply brutality with a groove, I love this song, very early Metallica. "Casting Shade" serves as an intro to what is my favorite track on the album, "Stepping Outside The Circle," which also appears on the "Fear Will Drag You Down" import in a demo version. Amazing song, heavy, killer ending. Next up is the Shadows Fall power ballad, well, as close to a power ballad as Shadows Fall is going to get anyway, the title track "The Art of Balance." This song is much slower and more melodic then the rest of the album, which to the average metalhead may be a turn off, but they keep the Shadows Fall feel to it. I love, love this song. It's almost comparable to Metallica's "The Unforgiven" in terms of placement on a heavy album. The pace picks up next with "The Mystery of One Spirit," which has a vintage Shadows Fall feel to it with a cool intro leading into Brian's screams. After a slower paced buildup, they explode into "The Idiot Box," followed by one of the most creatively and perfectly named "Prelude To A Disaster," which serves as an intro to the over seven minute epic "A Fire On Babylon." This one has a European feel to it at times, moreso than any of the other songs on the album, and is a good finish to the album. The album isn't actually over yet, there is one last treat left for us, a cover of the Pink Floyd classic "Welcome To The Machine." One of the cool things about covers is that most of the time, bands leave their own mark on the song. That is definitely the case here.

Vocally, Brian Fair is pretty much in a league of his own. He does more clean singing on this album then he did on "Of One Blood," and I like the fact that he does more this time because I love his vocals. I am definitely not taking anything away from guitarists Matt Bachand and Jonathan Donais though, because I love songs like "The First Noble Truth" from "Of One Blood," but with this album he becomes more of a backing vocalist instead of being featured, which when you have a lead singer is kind of the way it should be. Brian just rips on this album. Getting back to the production, the vocals are much more clean and crisp. On "Of One Blood," the growlier vocals were a little muffled at times, but this album is a 200% improvement over that. Lyrically, it's Shadows Fall: thought provoking, introspective, meaningful lyrics. In my opinion, lyrics are what separates the good bands with the great bands. Shadows Fall separates themselves in a major way.

Musically, oh man, I don't even know where to begin. Let's just say the art of the guitar solo has not been lost! There are solos laced throughout the album, some taking up good chunks of the song like in "Thoughts Without Words." It's almost refreshing to hear, as so many bands it seems have forgotten the art of the true solo. The music fits perfectly with the dynamics of the songs, thrashy when it needs to be, slow when it needs to be, etc. It might not be as technical as a band like Meshuggah, but in a way that almost makes it easier/better to listen to. I mean lets face it, I don't always want to bust out my calculator when listening to music. The drumming also sticks out on this album. I am not the type of person who listens to an album for the drumming, but with this album I can. To me drumming is something I hear but don't look for, but you can't help but noticing it here. Tons of double bass, very driven when it needs to be, just great work. More praise for the production: you can make out every instrument, the lead guitars, rhythm guitars, bass, drums, it's all very clear and distinguishable. Some albums it's all kind of jumbled together, but that is definitely not the case here. All and all it's simply unbelievable.

I think one of the great things about "The Art of Balance" is its' accessibility. This is a band that could get play on MTV and mainstream radio without changing a single thing, and I think with time it will. There is something there for everyone. With this album, Shadows Fall has a chance to do for American metal what Metallica did in the early 80's by re-energizing it with some originality and with bands like Killswitch Engage, God Forbid and Lamb Of God also leading the charge, they will help bring American metal some much needed respect. "The Art of Balance" is an amazing album that any thrash metal fan MUST own. I think with a little more time it very well may become my favorite album, period. It's just that damn good.

Standout Tracks:

"Stepping Outside The Circle"
"Thoughts Without Words"
"Destroyer Of Senses"
"The Art Of Balance"
"Welcome To The Machine"


People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Every Time I Die - Hot Damn!The Lawrence Arms - Apathy and ExhaustionConverge - Jane DoePropagandhi - Today's Empires, Tomorrow's AshesPropagandhi - How To Clean EverythingAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityAlkaline Trio - Good MourningAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl Rose

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anchors (November 11, 2005)

Fuck, posted in the wrong place.

Anchors (November 11, 2005)

Anyone who says 2005 hasn't been a good year for hardcore releases doesn't have their head screwed on correctly.

I guess it should be expected, though, from somebody who jerks off to The #12 Looks Like You.

mikeinflames (December 1, 2003)

Props to the guy who mentioned Killswitch .. definately one of the best bands aroudn today ... especially since they got Howard on vocals
Got to see Shadows Fall and Killswitch play together last month and the show blew me away (Lamb Of God and Unearth played to) ... definately best show I've been to all year
Anyways ... if you think the new album is amazing ... go see them live
The album is only the tip of the iceberg

Anonymous (November 18, 2003)

for the people bitching about this being reviewed i have a great idea.


simple as that. I love this band. I don't like much punk. But i'm not going to complain about some stupid shit like that.

is andrew w.k. punk? no
lost prophets isn't punk either.. it's a european nu-metal band
bleeding through is cheesy metalcore..

don't click on something unless it is something you're interested in.

Anonymous (July 7, 2003)

Hahaha. Yes, I am a fascist. Sieg Heil. All must revolve around this web page.

Anonymous (July 7, 2003)

bsd is a fucking asshole, I think its pretty smart for them to review a wide variety of bands, I for only like alot of different stuff, and if i dont like something reviewed, get this, i dont click it and read it. thats fucking amazing right? Isnt it kind of facist to expect the world (or this website) to revolve around your opinion of a music scene? ans you complain about reviewing metal bands but you were posting about a fucking movie, that in no way has anything to do with your version of punk rock, i hope you get your ass kicked by a room full of metal jocks. I think you should make your own site, review sham 69 and gbh and show everyone how big your punk rock dick is. fuck you

Anonymous (July 7, 2003)

Mommy, people are making fun of me on the internet.


Anonymous (July 7, 2003)

BSD: "Mommy, Punknews.org is misleading. They're putting metal reviews on their site. Mom it says PUNKnews not metalnews!"

BSD's Mom: "Quit whinin' & shut the fuck up! Damn it, all you do is bitch, I should have had an abortion."

GreenVandal (July 6, 2003)

Metal is on this website because Hardcore is considered a sub genre of punk, and Hardcore is the marriage of punk and metal, and many hardcore bands have been returning to their metal roots lately. hence, we have this. I dont like it but it makes sense.

Anonymous (July 6, 2003)

Here's why I didn't care for 28 Days Later:

1) Not enough zombies

2) They never explain why zombies don't attack each other

3) They never explain why zombies can't go out in day light

4) The military base crap sucked ass

5) They don't explain how two women and an unconcious man survive for 28 more days at the end.


mcpike (July 5, 2003)

i thought 28 days later was good.

Left_On_Red (July 5, 2003)

im really not on for the metalish shit, but i could listen to this in the background while i sit on my couch and watch biodome for 8 hours. Woah rice is burning oh shit its all stuck to the pot and shit my mom is so going to kill me. Im going to chuck E. Cheeses yay!!!! oh my god what day is it , saturday. Is 28 days later any good i might go see that. I want to go to the yogurt junction and get some frozen peach yogurt.

Anonymous (July 5, 2003)

The name is more than a little misleading... Oh well, I'm sick of arguing about this... I could argue that most of the bands reviewed aren't really punk bands, but sub-genre bands, but, honestly, I really don't feel like being compelled to respond to some dope in a review/forum. End discussion.


Anonymous (July 5, 2003)

Dear BSD,

Is it really that much skin off your back? To the point where you have to bitch about it?

No one's gonna make screamonews.org or grindmathcore.org for you. So a name is misleading a LITTLE bit...if it's still got your punk reviews, why whine? I'm looking at the latest reviews right now, and I see ETID, Fairweather, Brand New, Gatsby's American Dream, Anti-Flag, and Vendetta Red. Is that not punk enough for you? God forbid a site reaches out to a wide variety of listeners? Why be close-minded when you can very well be open-minded and attract THAT MANY MORE viewers?

If you still want to bitch about the name, be my guest, but it's honestly a very weak thing to be whining about.

Love, Dan.

Anonymous (July 4, 2003)

"BSD, I'm sorry.

Next Tuesday, we will host 25 different Sex Pistols reviews for you!

Love, Dan (theundergroundscene)"

Wow, what an intelligent reply. It seems to me like you really don't have an intelligent answer to the problem I gave you, so, next time think before you write and try to sound sarcastic and funny.


FortyMinutesWest (July 4, 2003)

Well, my only response would be to review the albums yourself, that's one way to ensure that they get posted.

Anonymous (July 4, 2003)

BSD, I'm sorry.

Next Tuesday, we will host 25 different Sex Pistols reviews for you!

Love, Dan (theundergroundscene)

Anonymous (July 4, 2003)

Yeah, my argument there wasn't too good, but it's kinda frustrating when, y'know, there are actual punk albums that could be reviewed instead of heavy metal. If there was an "Upsetters" review on here, I would still be kind of upset. I go to reggae review sites for reggae reviews, ragtime sites for ragtime reviews, jazz sites for jazz reviews, etc., so why can't art-rockers (Ikara Colt, Radiohead) and metal fans (this review, too many others to name) just send their reviews to respective sites? This hasn't ruined my day, I'm just stating why it sucks that metal is on this web site.


FortyMinutesWest (July 4, 2003)

It's funny though, both sides have the same arguments, as a fan of both genres I hear it all.

"Hey, what the fuck? How can you listen to that Social Distortion garbage and listen to metal?!"

"Hey, what the fuck? How can you listen to that Slayer garbage and listen to punk!?!"

With similar mindsets you'd think that fans on both sides would get along.

Anonymous (July 4, 2003)

I can more than live with it... But, y'know, there are actually metal review sites made for this trash. Nobody who likes real punk rock is gonna like this. At least not most who like real punk.


FortyMinutesWest (July 3, 2003)

Not everything on here is punk, live with it.

Anonymous (July 3, 2003)

"First thing: since when do they cover metal bands on a punk news site, and second thing: why is somebody whose name is "theundergroundscene" wanting a band to go mainstream?

Distant third: Sam Raimi is god"

This is the smartest person on this site. I don't see the relevance of metal bands on this site, or Radiohead, for that matter. If it's "punknews", it should be punk rock. I mean, there are so many awesome unreviewed punk CDs, why do we need a review of a mainstream metal CD??? Or an art-rock CD??? I don't get it... And the guy who said "Welcome to METAL 101, PUSSIES!" comes off as a fucking jock. And yeah, that's a bad thing. But I guess you can expect that from a metalhead cruising an supposed "punk" site.


Anonymous (July 3, 2003)

"Punk is just less talented musicians playing metal wrong."
-Steve Harris

Anonymous (July 3, 2003)

fuck this band, the haunted kicks the shit outta this band

FortyMinutesWest (July 3, 2003)

If Radiohead and the like can get covered, why not metal bands?

Anonymous (July 2, 2003)

First thing: since when do they cover metal bands on a punk news site, and second thing: why is somebody whose name is "theundergroundscene" wanting a band to go mainstream?

Distant third: Sam Raimi is god

FortyMinutesWest (July 2, 2003)

You make learning fun!

Anonymous (July 2, 2003)

Sea turtles are graceful saltwater reptiles, well adapted to life in their marine world. With streamlined bodies and flipper-like limbs, they are graceful swimmers able to navigate across the oceans. When they are active, sea turtles must swim to the ocean surface to breathe every few minutes. When they are resting, they can remain underwater for much longer periods of time. Although sea turtles live most of their lives in the ocean, adult females must return to land in order to lay their eggs. Sea turtles often travel long distances from their feeding grounds to their nesting beaches. Scientists are studying how sea turtles find their nesting beaches.

FortyMinutesWest (July 2, 2003)

Every roooose has its thooornnn.. I think that's Poison..or maybe not..

Anonymous (July 2, 2003)

Hey, everyone, wanna know whats real punk... Or reall metal?

The "When Casts Collide" marathon on TV Land! EVERYBODY TUNE IN.

Anonymous (July 2, 2003)

The only real metal band is Poison!

Anonymous (July 2, 2003)


flocktothebeat (July 2, 2003)

i started off not really liking this band, but after litening to it for awhile i can aprieciate whats going on. what still kinda turns me off is the clean vocal stuff, it just sounds kinda forced and boring to me. i think bands like this add the singing stuff so they can be more accessable and get the cross over audience. but that just my opinion so dont lose any sleep. and i think punk vs metal battle is gay.

FortyMinutesWest (July 2, 2003)

If you like this you should check out Killswitch Engage, if you haven't already.

pwfanatic (July 1, 2003)

excellent review for an excellent album. i had heard much a buzz about these guys but just borrowed my friends album a week ago and was depressed i waited so long. now if only these guys got popular rather than nu metal.....

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

This is the record Metallica should have made if Metallica still had their testicles.

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

Darkman is an awesome movie, but as much as I love watching Darkman, I have to give this album a one.

FortyMinutesWest (July 1, 2003)

Punk Rock vs. Metal showdown 2k3!

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

I think I'll stick with my Discharge...

Because these guys suckkk.



Go fuck yourselves.

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

I think this cd rocks pretty hard. If they weren't on the Ozzfest, they could pull off a mainstage slot at the Warped Tour and the kids would go nuts.

My only beef about this disk is that the clean vocals sound a little washed out in the mix.

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

damn perfect score crap

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

Message to hardcore/emo pussies..... Welcome to metal 101.

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

Nothing special....

FortyMinutesWest (July 1, 2003)

This band rocks, it's as simple as that.

Anonymous (July 1, 2003)

Fuck yeah. DO believe the hype. One of the best live metal bands out there. Perpentually on the road as well.

MrOhio (July 1, 2003)

I got a Shadows Fall sampler from Interpunk and was blown away. I'm usually not one for deathish metal, but these guys kick you in the crotch.

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