Madness in Manila: Shadows Fall Live in the Philippines 2009
This CD/DVD set's title tells the whole story. A 70-minute live set recorded at some festival or another, documenting the Gothenburg-via-Massachusetts band's sound at its tightest and most aggressive. If you're a fan, this is a great souvenir of the live Shadows Fall experience. The audience is almost entirely removed from the mix; their roars are reinstated when vocalist Brian Fair shouts "Scream for me!" or when a guitar solo begins, but otherwise, the focus is on the band. The set list encompasses almost their entire career, but there's nothing from the band's debut album, on which current vocalist Brian Fair didn't sing, of course, but "Crushing Belial" from 2000's Of One Blood does make the cut, along with multiple tracks from each album since. Shadows Fall are a powerful band whose blend of extreme metal aggression and hardcore populism makes them a major draw on festival bills and package tours. Their songs have choruses made to be chanted by roaring crowds, even if they occasionally slip into maudlin balladry (the quiet sections of "Inspiration on Demand"). In many ways, they're reminiscent of '80s Anthrax: a people's band capable of marrying thrashy metal to a pop sensibility without "selling out" or losing their sense of fun.