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  • Shadows Fall – Top 15 New Wave of American Heavy Metal Albums

    Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:37:57

    Shadows Fall – Top 15 New Wave of American Heavy Metal Albums -

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    These are the albums that defined the aughts.

    The New Wave of American Heavy Metal

    The '00s were quite a fertile period for heavy music. So much so that the press and fans anointed the era "The New Wave of American Heavy Metal" or "The New Wave of American Metal." Same difference. MTV resurrected Headbanger's Ball, with Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed installed as the host. Late night TV shows, like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, were booking the bands of the era to perform with increasing frequency throughout the decade. Yes, those firebreathing noise merchants in The Dillinger Escape Plan played Conan and things were never, ever the same.

    If you require more proof that the public and media hungered for metal equally, well, think about how Ozzfest ballooned, inviting heavier bands to play both the main and the side stages. The annual heavy metal summer camp was eventually immobilized and replaced by The Rock Star Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, which also grew exponentially and played sheds.

    Most impressive were the sales numbers of these bands. Albums repeatedly went platinum and gold, with the likes of Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God and Atreyu notching RIAA certifications and awards for achieving monster sales. More notable was the fact that you could turn on the radio and hear these same bands on the dial and not always after midnight on specialty shows.

    Do we even need to mention the Grammy nominations? It made us realize that people with their ears to the underground and in possession of a keen knowledge of the aggressive music scene were influencing the balloting, since extreme bands were notching noms. It wasn't as though this was further atonement for the Jethro Tull gaffe that still haunts the metal category today; it was an institution recognizing and supporting a movement!

    Hands down—the '00s were a legit and rich era for heavy metal. These are the albums that defined the period.

    15. Shadows Fall - The Art of Balance

    Shadows Fall were a modern day take on early Metallica with 2004's The Art of Balance. They were the masters; the fans were there puppets. See what we just did? But in all seriousness, dreadlocked vocalist Brian Fair, whose hair hung to his knees, lead the charge with a two-tiered vocal attack that was reminiscent of James Hetfield in his heyday. He made use of a mid-level singing voice and a guttural growl that allowed songs like "Thoughts Without Words," "Destroyer of Senses" and "Stepping Outside the Circle" to be as memorable as they were moshable.

    Fair was backed by the twin-guitar attack of Matt Bachand and Jon Donais, each of which was a master of his instrument and practically a virtuoso. Solos? Yeah, there are plenty of those on The Art of Balance.

    The album was a mixed bag of thrashers, rockers and even slower, more contemplative tunes. The dynamics demonstrated the breadth of talents of the Shads, as they were lovingly called by fans and their inner circle.

    The band, which hailed from Massachusetts, easily the nerve center and the hub of New England's heavy metal scene, which also boasted Killswitch Engage, Converge, All That Remains, Unearth and more, eventually signed to Atlantic Records and broke up, but they carved their place in the NWOAM with The Art of Balance, which was both artful and balanced.

    Watch the video for "Thoughts Without Words" from Shadows Fall:

    —Amy Sciarretto

    'The Art of Balance' from Shadows Fall is available via Century Media.
    Shadows Fall the art of balance

    shadows fall

    See the other artists and albums on our Top Top 15 New Wave of American Heavy Metal Albums feature!

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    Tags: Shadows Fall, Brian Fair, Matthew Bachand, Jonathan Donais

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