Okay, I’ll be honest, being from Massachusetts originally myself, seeing that Shadows Fall was from Springfield was the first thing that caught my attention. However, I picked up their sophomore album OF ONE BLOOD a year ago and was blown away. This, their 1997 debut, is a fantastic fusion of hardcore, thrash, and death metal, forming a super sort of progressive metal reminiscent of Slayer and early Metallica.Enter the realm of Jonathan Donais and Matthew Bachand, best new guitar duo. They can do speed metal, make really heavy crunches (without following the trend of low-tuned guitars), and can play acoustic beautifully. Jonathan, the lead guitarist, is absolutely fantastic, creating great melodies and harmonies in the solos. And they can sing pretty well, too!Philip Labonte, their original vocalist, does a good job with his throaty death metal growl, but he can sing pretty well also. It was shortly after this album that he got replaced with Brian Fair, who is somewhat better with his vocal range.Holding up the rhythm section are Paul Romanko on bass (very good) and David Germain on drums (as any GOOD death metal/thrash drummer can do, he does far more than just endless double-bass drum kicks, which though fun, can be monotonous–he gives just the right amounts at just the right times).Standout songs on this album include “Nurture”, “Revel in My Loss”, and “Lead Me Home”, the latter being a beautiful semi-acoustic instrumental ballad with tranquil synthesized sounds of nature at the intro and outro. “Eternal” and “Lifeless” are also terrific.A bit more raw than their later efforts, and with a just-not-quite-as-good vocalist, this album is still nonetheless a terrific debut from a great, original Massachusetts metal band. And best of all, I’ll be seeing them at Ozzfest this summer!