All Things Fallen – Shadow Way Review

We all have a type. Deep down inside, my type often reflects as moody, noodly, groove-kissed prog.1 So, when I see a promo that promises all of those things, I can’t help but shove it in my ears and hope for the best. Enter All Things Fallen who presents as a supergroup of sorts, boasting members of Pain of Salvation, Darkwater, and Almaha little digging reveals it’s more of a supporting cast coalition. A little less ego can go a long way in collaborative projects, so smaller names are not exactly a bad thing. Brand recognition aside, it matters not if the riffs and hooks are aplenty. With frets ablaze and a song in their heart, can these serenading Swedes2 charm with their sophomore outing Shadow Way?

Well, charming or otherwise, Shadow Way credited me a couple tickets for a nostalgia trip, turning back the clock to the 00s prog/power that carried me through many a late night ignoring homework for dungeon grinds3. Quirky synth-powered tracks (“The Sentinel,” “Shadow Way”) recall the unheralded Beyond Twilight sans the vocal showmanship of our beloved Jørn or his successor, Kelly Carpenter. Big choruses and vaguely desert-like melodies (“Pandemonium,” “Path of Dismay”) remind me of harder-hitting Nightwish jams without a siren at a mic. All Things Fallen lead vocalist Erik Tordsson still pushes plenty of treble with his natural tenor range, exuding the subtle melancholy found in a band like Essence of Sorrow. And, of course, continuing to lean on their progressive tag, All Things Fallen ties their various elements together with a snappy, organic drum tone and 70s-inspired keyboard sounds.

In turn, primary songwriter Markus Sigfridsson (Darkwater, Harmony) takes as much time to flush out his synth lines as he does his fretwork, which brings a welcome fullness to many of the compositions. Take for instance the lone interlude “Chaos System” which lulls with a hymnal organ hum, paving the way for the stadium-size anthem “Pandemonium” that follows. This smart build separates two moods that the two tunes provide, giving “Pandemonium” an extra push toward a higher stratosphere with its funk-kissed bridge and weaving guest violin line. Sigfridsson also uses stuttered patterns (from the book of Rainbow) on tracks like “Kiss of Death” and “Shadow Way” to allow his majorly qualified friends in the rhythm section to steer with craggy gallops. Though one man’s ideas established the Shadow Way, the whole team shines.

Despite being slathered in showmanship from all members, All Things Fallen, unfortunately, stumbles into a chorus-led song structure with little deviance. Some numbers absolutely benefit from the bridge-to-big-chorus build, like the massive opener “The Sentinel,” which excels at being huge. Similarly, the wild solo trade-off (between Sigfridsson and Sigfridsson) in the follow-up “Rebirth” spills over into its final refrain and gives extra power to the closing stomp. But a pattern is a pattern and for a few of the later offerings (“Narcissistic Ritual” through “Desert of the Real”) this rigid adherence to design rears its repetitive head, especially since Tordsson isn’t particularly creative with his soaring vocal melodies. To make matters more frustrating, the epic “Desert of the Real” weighs in at just over 8 minutes and functions as the peak of the stagnating songwriting. Closing with “Shadow Way,” the most adventurous track, helps the journey, but a bit more variety could have done wonders.

Alas, the comfort of Shadow Way ensures that I nod my head despite some of these shortcomings. Sigfridsson and co have crafted a record that, in its excess, pumps out interesting soundswhether a charming organ drone, tumbling tom roll, or jubilant guitar leadthat manage to keep my attention. All Things Fallen do not reinvent the progressive metal genre nor do they perfect it. Compared to aforementioned acts like Beyond Twilight or parent acts like Pain of Salvation, these competent rockers don’t have quite the same identifiable charisma. Nevertheless, they can craft a catchy tune and have leaned out a little since their debut just a few years ago. With another round of growth, perhaps the next path they follow pulls them out from the shadows of their predecessors.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 74 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Blackoak Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 3rd, 2022

Show 4 footnotes

  1. Much Panther. – Steel
  2. Mostly Swedish anyway.
  3. Including the woefully mediocre and poorly supported Phantasy Star Universe.
  4. The interlude is a DR11, so really this is mostly a DR6 with one major outlier.
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