“The Unknown” is a strong opener. It is a diverse track that is heavy and melodic. Tempo and intensities shift, and in addition to the shouts and melodic vocals, there are even some death metal growls. “Divide And Conquer” is an anthemic dose of metallic hardcore with a tasty guitar solo from Jonathan Donais.
After using Zeuss to produce their last several albums, Shadows Fall returned to Adam D (Killswitch Engage) for Fire From The Sky. He also produced their 1997 debut Somber Eyes To The Sky. Both Adam D and Shadows Fall have come a long way since that album. The band’s songwriting has steadily improved over the years, along with their musicianship and vocals. Adam D’s production is clear and punchy, emphasizing the heaviness while keeping just enough polish.
The triple threat vocals are one of the band’s strong points. Fair has a potent hardcore bark, and varies his delivery very effectively in that style. There are also harmonies, such as on “Nothing Remains” that are subtle, but add depth and texture to the sound. And the aformentioned death metal growls from Matt Bachand are utilized a bit more than on recent Shadows Falls albums. They are showcased most extensively on the title track, probably the heaviest on Fire From The Sky.
Shadows Fall has gotten radio airplay in the past, but there are no obvious single on this album. There are parts of songs that are extremely catchy and melodic, but they are balanced by intensity and harsher vocals. “Save Your Soul” is a great song that is the closest to a single, but still has enough brutality to scare away most rock radio programmers.
Fire From The Sky is a varied effort that finds Shadows Fall exploring some new territory, but keeping well within their trademark sound. It’s an enjoyable CD that longtime fans will embrace, and when the band plays the new songs live will win a new batch of converts.
(released May 15, 2012 on Razor & Tie Records)