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The Shadow Falls on Shadows Fall?

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Shadows FallThe metalcore Massholes in Shadows Fall have made the following announcement via Facebook:

SHADOWS FALL ANNOUNCE FINAL EUROPEAN TOUR

Massachusetts metal band Shadows Fall will embark on their final European tour in less than a week. The “Hell on Earth” tour will begin in Frankfurt, Germany on Aug. 29 and runs until Sept. 14. The tour also features Unearth, The Acacia Strain and War of Ages. The band has been touring non-stop for over a decade and has decided that it’s time to “take a hiatus” from future extensive touring. In addition to this upcoming European run, Shadows Fall are planning a final North American tour and will possibly visit a few other territories some time over the next year. We will post details once everything is locked in. There are many factors that are behind this difficult decision that the band has been dealing with for some time now. In a nutshell it comes down to families, member availability, and finances. Further impacting our decision is the fact that we have two members with young children. Plain and simple, they want to be with their families to watch their kids grow. Touring full time in a band these days has never been more difficult financially. When you have to ensure the future comfort of your family, difficult decisions have to be made. Another reason is the fact that our lead guitarist (Jon Donais) is now in Anthrax, which makes it hard for us to do any extensive touring with our full lineup. Due to his obligations with Anthrax, he will not be able to join us on this European tour. Felipe Roa will once again fill Jon’s position and we are thankful to him for joining us on this run. Also returning for this tour is original bassist Paul Romanko who has sat out from touring for the last two years to raise his son. This has been a real hard decision for all of us to make but we feel at this time this is the right thing to do. We don’t hate each other, we’re not bitter, we in fact still have a really great time together, but the ride has slowed down and it’s time for the next chapters in our lives, whatever that may be. We can’t thank the fans that have supported Shadows Fall since the beginning enough. Without you, none of this would have been possible. For the past decade and a half, we have been able to create the music we have always wanted to hear and share it with music fans everywhere. That being said, you still may see us at a festival or two over the next few years…if they ask, we will come! In the meantime please check out the dates for the last European go around and we will see you out there!

Although the word “hiatus” suggests that this is temporary, the actual text of the message suggests that this is anything but. I maintain that a hiatus and break-up are basically the same thing these days, since every band seems to reunite sooner or later. But whatever you wanna call it, there isn’t gonna be any more Shadows Fall live performances for a long-ass time after this year, and I’d be shocked if there was any new music in the foreseeable future.

As the band members themselves admit in their statement, this has been coming for some time now. They found great success with 2002’s The Art of Balance and 2004’s The War Within, at which point they seemed poised, alongside Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage, to become one of the next A-list acts in metal. But then they signed with a major label (Atlantic) and released 2007’s Threads of Life, an album that many fans found dissatisfying. And it seems as though they never quite recovered from that stumble. If you’ve been to a Shadows Fall show in the Retribution/Fire from the Sky era, you’ve most likely noticed the band’s draw dwindling. Donais’ joining Anthrax last year put the writing on the wall in bright red. So SF’s decision to disband, temporarily or otherwise, is not surprising.

All of that being said… I sincerely DO believe that this is temporary. If you look at the history of pretty much any subgenre in metal, the bands that aren’t able to sustain their living from making music always disband or go through cataclysmic line-up shifts somewhere around the ten year mark… and they always end up reuniting eventually. Anthrax, Exodus, and Testament are all notable examples from thrash, and Carcass is probably the most obviously example from death metal. More recent examples include nu-metal acts like Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Mushroomhead. (And while I can’t speak to those nu-metal bands, who I’ve always loathed, I do think it’s worth pointing out that the thrash bands I mentioned, as well as Carcass, came back bigger and arguably better than ever.) Bands like Shadows Fall and God Forbid — bands that seemed to have such bright futures not all that long ago — are just the New Wave of American Heavy Metal’s version of these outfits. In a few more years, the Sumeriancore bands that seem so prevalent today will start dropping like flies. So we’ve seen this movie many times before. We know how it ends.

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