“I’d like to dedicate this next song to my grandmother who passed away in her sleep last night,” said Shadows Fall vocalist Brian Fair last Wednesday night at Ziggy’s as he introduced “The Unknown,” the first single from the band’s just released album Fire From the Sky. “This one’s for you, nanny.” It was a tender, but fleeting moment in an evening where brutal and deliberate ruled, as Shadows Fall and Fear Factory both came armed with a bevy of new material for albums on the verge of release at the time.
The wounds inflicted by the AutoTuned, sometimes catchy Threads of Life two albums ago remain fresh with some fans, but “The Unknown” suggests that the band is making every effort to start the healing. A speedpicked, overlapping guitar against escalating double bass drum suggest Ride the Lightningera Metallica, while breakdowns a-plenty and a melodic chorus throw back to their breakthrough The Art of Balance. The meaty solo on new one “Divide and Conquer” left room for Fair to break out all of the chicanery that involves his floor-length dreads: the back-andforth, the Petey Pablo and, of course, the pogo stick. Shadows Fall may not ever take a chance on scaling up their audience again, but they’ll always be entertaining.
Headliners Fear Factory have known the sort of widespread acceptance that Shadows Fall stabbed at, so they have the luxury of digging deep into their catalog. The first third of their irresponsibly loud set was all tracks from Obsolete, in order, while they dug deep into the pre-radio days for the assaultive title track to Demanufacture. The good life seems to have taken its toll on the waistlines of the band’s only remaining founding members, frontman Burton C. Bell and guitarist Dino Cazares, but otherwise they looked nothing like the band that sounded like they could have fallen apart at any moment during the late 2000s. Bassist Matt DeVries, who absconded from Chimaira and went almost immediately to join Bell and co., was tack sharp on their death-metal aligned material, while crusty and bombastic in their later industrial work.