In 1986, arguably two of the best heavy-metal albums ever were released: Metallica's Master of Puppets and Slayer's Reign in Blood. It has taken almost 20 years for another album to come along that can be added to that prestigious list. That album is The War Within, the new release from the Massachusetts quintet Shadows Fall.
"The Light That Binds" opens The War with an acoustic piece, reminiscent of Metallica's "Fight Fire With Fire." Then, a thunderous power metal onslaught sends the track into a new direction. Before you can brace yourself after a slight pause, a fury of thrash metal supremacy aims to destroy all.
It doesn't take long to notice that Shadows Fall has grown immensely from their previous release, 2002's breakthrough The Art of Balance. The pulverizing dynamics are more than present, but the group manages to capture a sound that covers the history of heavy metal.
Producer Zeuss, who handled duties for The Art of Balance as well, has managed to clearly record today's best-balanced rhythm section. New drummer Jason Bittner has a hard-hitting technique, with a double-bass style that best accommodates the ever shifting riffs like no other. Speaking of riffs, the guitar combination of Jon Donias and Matt Bach and can be considered the twin towers of metal, well proven on the track "What Drives the Weak."
Something missing in music today but well represented in The War Within are guitar solos that matter. "Inspiration on Demand" and "Eternity Is Within" do not have guitar solos just to satisfy the ego of Donias; they take the song to a new level of power.