Playing on their own battlefield of modern hardcore and thrash, for over a decade Shadows Fall have been producing amazing and heavy records with a beautiful fusion of melody intertwined in the brutality. After the muted response given to the melody driven Threads Of Life, SF’s 6th studio album creates the full-on thrash record they needed. Finally growing out of their hardcore roots to embrace a more technical, fully thrash-oriented sound, Retribution is the ferocious follow-up album needed.
Opening with a beautiful classical guitar piece, the album slides right into the beefy, muscular riffs of Jonathan Donais and Matt Bachand backed by a heavy and precise drumming section, Jason Bittner, and controlling bass lines from Paul Ramonko. All of this is fronted by the signature vocals of frontman Brian Fair on a track you could consider a smorgasbord of everything Shadows Fall has to offer: “My Demise.”
Giving a full embrace of thrash, the record truly contains some of the most well composed tracks of Shadows Fall’s career. The musicianship has matured throughout the years, but it fully culminates for he first time here on Retribution. From longer, more intricately structured songs like “My Demise” and “Dead and Gone” to the more straight forward tracks like “War” and “King Of Nothing” they give you every aspect they possibly can.
The album contains several full on rage-tastic tracks filled with the beefiest guitar riffs and heavier, angry vocals including “Embrace Annihaliation,” “War,” and “A Public Execution” with “War” being what could be their heaviest track since Of One Blood. Intertwined are songs filled with harmony drenched chorus’, technically based, sweeping, virtuoso guitar work of lead guitarist Donais and brutal riffs to drive through each song.
Shouting a very personal set of lyrics on this record, Brian Fair brings things down to earth and out of the religious heeba jeeba a lot of metal bands thwart around. Not to worry for the apocalyptic driven chorus of “Embrace Annihilation” doesn’t cease to stop SOME entrance of the end of days and things of metal nature to infuse itself on the album. But the lyrics focus on personal struggle in day to day life and in relationships without sounding like another emo record. It still has a metal punch to it, but it more relatable.
After a disappointing, melody drench record, Shadows Fall have come back full force ready to thrash your face off. Having one of the heaviest live shows around, Retribution will be nothing but a great addition to their already impressive track record and really bring their live presence to the next level.