Before the so-called “New Wave of American Heavy Metal” was even a ripple, Shadows Fall were there. Emerging from Springfield, Massachusetts in 1995, this D.I.Y. band ultimately found legions of fans, worldwide fame, two Grammy nominations, and even a song on Guitar Hero. Of course, none of this came from luck. Instead, hard work and musical innovation have been the forces propelling Shadows Fall, continually revealing ever more of this band’s greatness. They are beyond simply best-in-class; in so many ways, Shadows Fall – with their unmistakable, seamless blend of metal and hard rock – have grown to help define the very essence of modern aggressive music.
With Retribution – the band’s fifth full length and follow-up to 2007’s critically acclaimed Threads of Life – it’s no surprise to find Shadows Fall once again taking bold steps in their quest for constant evolution. It starts, of course, with the guts of Retribution – the sound. “With each album we’ve gotten a little more confidence to really let all of our influences show,” says vocalist Brian Fair. “We’re unapologetic about the old-school metal and the 80s influence, as well as the thrash and the melodic death metal.” And Retribution – with music production by Zeuss (Hatebreed, Municipal Waste) and vocal production by Elvis Baskette (Incubus, Alter Bridge) – surely has that thrash-metal bedrock which has long served as the foundation of Shadows Fall – but there’s more. “We’ve really taken some songs all the way,” explains Fair. “The brutal parts are a complete, non-stop assault, and the rock-influenced songs go all the way within that rock direction. A song like ‘Picture Perfect’ – the chorus is more Journey or Def Leppard than it is death metal,” laughs Fair. “There’s really no holding back when it comes to our songwriting. Once the floodgates open, we go all the way.” The result is Retribution – a collection of songs that showcase the versatility and vision of this band that only seems to get better over time.
But the evolution of Shadows Fall is not limited to their music. Atop the shifting grounds of an unpredictable music industry, they’ve found even more opportunity to try new ideas. “We learned everything from the ground up,” says Fair, reflecting on more than a decade of experience and lessons learned. “We’ve gone through the independent metal world to the major label world, and have come to realize that, given the way things are now, it’s all about the band re-taking the control of everything: music, business, ownership, publishing. Everything.”
In taking that control, Shadows Fall knew they would need strong partners. “We wanted people who understood where we come from,” says Fair. They found just that, in the team of Ferret Music and Independent Label Group. “We see it as the Justice League of Metal,” says Fair. “Ferret was started by guys who were in hardcore bands – who did it all the hard way, themselves. Having someone like that in your corner is just huge. And with Independent Label Group, you have a major label distributor that can kick open some doors, but the people who are doing the every-day work understand the DIY approach we have always taken. So the whole way that we’re handling this is super exciting. We get the best of both worlds.”
True brilliance doesn’t just navigate change – it anticipates, adapts, and turns it into opportunity. This is so much of what separates Shadows Fall from so many other bands: a work ethic as forward-thinking as their musical instinct. Strong, savvy self-determinism shoring up a distinctive mix of bone-splintering aggression and melodic nuance.
It’s Retribution from Shadows Fall. It’s not to be missed.