Shadows Fall basically just came out of nowhere for us. None of us had heard of them before. Listening to The War Within was enjoyable, and we all greatly liked it and had our own personal favorite songs we liked to incorporate into our playlists. But, just because we liked the album as a whole doesn’t mean we had any idea the kind of demand our listeners, as well as the world would have for it.
Shortly after the recording dropped, and the CMJ/FMQB magazine add dates passed, we saw it chart to the number one spot almost over night. At the time, I had been pulling some managment duties to help ease the flow of all the new material showing up. The other original host, a friend I lost touch with named Jeff, had agreed to trying to stick with the top twenty and play at least one song from each within a two hour block. It was a format that stuck for a long time. But, we also made the decision to allow requests into the program, and this is where things began to really go out of control.
The phone never really rang off the hook, even for giveaways. We had a steady following, but it was a silent one for the most part. But, then there were the addicts of Shadows Fall. Some of the regulars would call in hourly and request the song, so while we may have spun one song by them at some point in the two hour block, we’d have a play list of over six or seven tracks total for a two hour block. The War Within was good, but it wasn’t that good, and we all started to get really sick of it. Gradually the numbers started to fall, it dropped from the charts, and we hoped that meant the madness would end. But every hour we still received countless demands for songs from this.
The War Within became the number one requested album for months, and even when it lost that position it was in the top five for just as long. Gradually, the album’s fame started to fade, and all was quiet, moving on to the next album listeners would beat into our skulls to the point where the meer mention of the band’s name or the album title was enough to make us physically and violently sick. But, then 2006 happened, and Fallout from the War dropped. A collection of additional songs left off The War Within. And with that, the flood began once more, lasting just as long, and jumping between the two releases until Threads of Life dropped, and the fan reaction all started to taper off…
To this day, I have no idea what it was about The War Within that had so many people going absolutely nuts over it. Yes, I like the album, and in no way am I saying it’s a bad one. But, the total chart domination for the station was simply unbelievable. Once things died down, we actually debated on taking the promo disc outside and setting it on fire. But, that copy should still be in the deepest reaches of the Metal media vault, the no man’s land, where nobody dares to travel. And, yes, my full-length three disc edition is still in my collection out in plain sight. But, I haven’t played it in my car, my house, my new apartment, or anywhere. In fact, it hasn’t been touched since the winter of 2004.
In fact, most of my Shadows Fall albums haven’t, with the exception of Threads of Life which was enjoyable when it hit, and didn’t quite see the popularity of its predecessor, but enough to make me remember the disgust that I had. The biggest problem for a radio station is when a band gets too big out of nowhere, and for its hosts, this can ultimately ruin their perception of the next big thing.
In the past month or two, I’ve been venturing back into the band’s territory. No, I haven’t broken out The War Within again, and honestly I can live without hearing that one again any time soon. At one point I added Of One Blood to my collection, and just happened to put it in last month for the first time since it was acquired out of opportunity amid the rush at the station. I was really surprised at how bad this album was. I know it has a following, and musically it isn’t bad at all, but it was clearly during that analog to digital transitional phase, and I simply couldn’t stand the clean vocals. They sounded tone deaf much of the time, and it’s something I pick up on moreso now with my time digging into Threads of Life.
But, there’s something about Threads of Life that intrigues me. It’s nothing too fantastic, and it doesn’t really get me pumped. But, now that the toxins of over exposure have settled, and I look at the group after the aftermath, I see a good band that, for some reason, just had an album that sold better than it probably should have. But, that’s about it. If I ever get the chance now to see the band live, I would throw the money down and go catch the show, unlike a year or two ago where I’d want to punch the person who even told me about their being in or near the area.
It’s been many years since The War Within came into my life and made me start to hate that group. Since then, it’s clear the obsessed masses have started to wain, especially since this years Fire from the Sky was barely even mentioned by anyone on my Facebook, which is largely filled by the Metal legions of the world. There was no big internet push, no big media campaign, and to be honest I’ve heard nothing from it, though I think I still have the promotional review copy I just couldn’t touch due to how disgusted I still was, and honestly feared my opinion would be a bit biased.
Gazing over the aftermath and the gradual downfall of popularity, I’m beginning to see why it was I liked this group in the first place. While they are far from one of my top favorite bands, then and now, I appreciate the material as catchy and infectious melodic efforts that can make my head bob along to the beat here and there. Despite the obvious faults I can pick up on more and more, it all seems to work, and I can just easily walk into any album, at least that I have heard. My stomach doesn’t turn at the meer mention of their name either. I guess, after the fallout, the world returned to normal at some point, and I was too affected by the madness that occured to see it.
Then again, even these two I have been playing are greatly starting to make me want to set them on fire…