Along with 2002’s The Art Of Balance, Shadows Fall’s The War Within stood out in the packed metalcore scene of the early 2000’s with a more thrash-oriented attack than their peers. Armed with a gifted vocalist in Brian Fair and with a very talented rhythm section that made their music genuinely fun to listen to, The War Within is a timeless record filled with guitar solos, catchy choruses, and very personal lyrics.
Also Century Media’s best-selling record to date, The War Within established Shadows Fall as a major player in the commercial rise of metalcore in the 2000’s. And for good reason. Album opener “The Light That Blinds” starts the record on a stunning note, with its acoustically-led intro quickly giving way to one of drummer Jason Bittner’s best performances on record. Grammy-nominated single “What Drives The Weak” and “Inspiration On Demand” are two obvious standout tracks, with infectious choruses that never feel tacked on for commercial acceptance. The latter track will likely blow you away with an impressive guitar solo near the end, all dropped into a compact 4 minute package. It’s a shredder’s dream.
Lyrically-driven songs like “Those Who Cannot Speak”, which references vocalist Brian Fair’s experiences with autism spectrum disorder (specifically, a niece and nephew), are disarmingly effective even though they might get lost among the crashing guitars. In fact, it’s one of the heaviest and sharpest songs on the record as a whole alongside “The Power Of I And I”, yet it contains a guitar solo that stands proudly amongst the likes of Iron Maiden! Seriously.
It’s easy to forget about records like this considering how crowded the metalcore scene was in the last decade. That would be a mistake, though. Shadows Fall were one of the most consistent bands in their heyday, and The War Within marks some of their best, yet most accessible work. If you’re leaning more on the thrash-influenced side of metalcore, revisiting this record is a must.