Metal CDs get mixed reviews

All That Remains
this Darkened Heart
Prosthetic Records

Line-up changes are inevitable in any band. As times change, so do individual band members? tastes and musical visions. So, when Phil Labonte left Shadow?s Fall to concentrate full-time on his other outlet, All That Remains, it probably didn?t raise as many eyebrows as it should have.

Since then, Shadow?s Fall has become one of the top acts this country has produced, perhaps this era?s answer to the Bay Area thrash movement that gave the world Metallica.

What has remained from the split is two technically proficient bands that inject the genre with passion, urgency, and charm. On its sophomore album, this Darkened Heart, ATR delivers an album that combines light and shade with hardcore; a sound that has become the hallmark of the New Wave of American Metal. ?For Salvation? provides the perfect example of this interlacing of metallic elements; ?80s-type speed metal riffing is comfortably woven into breakdowns sewn into delicate harmony. The title track that ends the album is another highlight. Starting off with furious blast-beats that tip its hat to their Gothenburg (yeah, Sweden!) influences (a la The Haunted and At the Gates), ATR subsequently slips into the metal core that it disseminates so easily. Definitely no sophomore jinx on this album. It is well done, and very much deserving of your support.

By the way, hope you checked it out last Saturday with ? ?who else ???????? Shadow?s Fall at the World in the mighty Strip District.

Roadrunner Records

Really, really wanted to love this album. Having reached the pinnacle of his post-Sepultura career in 2002 with 3, Max Cavalera and Soulfly could do no wrong with their next release. You wanna cover Helmet?s ?In The Meantime?? Cool. Page could use the exposure. A more spiritual world-view reflected in your lyrics to complement the tribal nature of your music? Awesome. Maybe even bring in more world-music to complement the Brazilian groove? Bring it on. Have some old-school bass via David Ellefson (ex-Megadeth)? Now you?re talking. All of this just upped the anticipation factor for me.

What the final product delivers is slightly less than the sum of its parts. Having created tribal-groove metal, Cavalera is responsible for some of the ?90s? most groundbreaking music ? ?Roots? by Sepultura. This sets impossibly high standards and sets the stage for listeners to be underwhelmed. And that?s how I feel with ?Prophecy.? Not a bad album, not derivative of the previous three Soulfly albums. Just not up there, in my opinion, with ?Roots? or the first three Soulfy?s. ?Living Sacrifice,? ?Execution Style,? ?Defeat U?: All blend together in my ear, forming the album?s first third. Only the opener, and title track, builds something daring and different, especially with the gorgeous Middle Eastern-style closing sequence. ?Moses? and ?In the Meantime,? the aforementioned cover, also work well, infusing a much-needed tempo change.

?Moses,? in fact, brings in a little dub/reggae. The dub mixed with metal works well here, as it did when Benji from Dub War appeared on the first Soulfly album. The flamenco guitar that introduces ?Porrada? is awesome, as is the song itself. But then the album tapers off with ?Soulfly IV,? nice jam stuff once again, but just so-so. When ?Wings? comes around to close the album, pretty and delicate as it may be, it just doesn?t grab me. The soulful voice of Asha Rabouin is soothing, but not my cup of tea. And it steers the album away from the groove and fury that is Cavalera. Or maybe what I thought was Max. For fans only.