Thursday, November 12, 2009

Return of the King: New England Thrash Metal

So it's been over 2 months since my last post...thanks Webwasher. A lot of great albums have come out during that time; Megadeth, Nightrage, DevilDriver, Shadows Fall, and Killswitch Engage. For this post, I am going to focus in on the last two.

Now I put KsE & Shadows Fall in the same category of New England Thrash Metal, simply cause they (All That Remains, too) all sort of came out during the same time & are from the same area. On top of that, the members have done projects together (Overcast) or have been in other bands (Phil in Shadows Fall before Brian).

Both of their last albums were very unispired. It was like they were going through the motions. KsE's Daylight Dies was ok, nothing special. It was like you we thinking "Well it's sounds just like AoJB & EoH, but not as memorable." With Shadows Fall's last one Threads of Life, you kind of felt they took the safe way out. Meaning, they took their ideas from The War Within and softened them up a bit. Tried very hard to be catchy and well it was just alright. Once again, nothing memorable.

Fast forward to 2009 and both albums are great "return to form" type albums. In fact, even though the year isn't out I can pretty much guarentee that one of these albums will be #1, that's how good they are.

Let's start with Shadows Fall first. They went back and sped up the music a bit and didn't try to make a catchy song. So what happened? Some of the best songs since Art of Balance. Add of to that the guitar work on this album is fantastic. You can YouTube most of the album to hear it, I would recommend...well everything. War has a great chorus, Embrace Annihilation has an awesome solo, A Public Execution is a geat work out song with a chorus that needs to be heard. I can go on about every song, that's how solid this thing. Throw in some guest vocals by Randy Blythe and you have a winner.

Killswitch Engage's latest was a sort of make or break album for me. Alive or Just Breathing and End of Heartache are classics in the metalcore genre. In fact, I put AoJB in my top 5 metal albums of all time...yeah it's that good. So with this album, they brought on board a co-producer for the first time and it really pays off. With Daylight Dies it seemed so formulated; verse, clean slow chorus, breakdown, repeat. With Killswitch Engage, the songs are thrashier and while some of the slow clean choruses are there, they don't seem to distract. Add in the fact, the first song has a solo (they don't do solos normally). That's when it hits you that this isn't going to sound like Daylight Dies. The intro solo in Take Me Away is so good it makes you wonder why these guys don't do more of it. Anyway, like Shadows Fall, there isn't a lot of filler on this album. This album is a great continuation of what was established on AoJB & EoH.

I was worried about these albums since their last ones were so mediocre. Both albums met and exceeded my expectations. When I was doing my top 10 list in June and I saw both of these albums coming out, I was hoping they would make the top 10, now they will be topping the list. Why couldn't DevilDriver's latest have been this good?