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Music CD/DVD Review: Shadows Fall – Madness in Manila: Live in the Philippines

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Shadows Fall blasts through a powerhouse set at Manila’s Araneta Coliseum with Madness in Manila: Live in the Philippines, a commanding CD/DVD release that captures the elements of this sweaty, beer-soaked set in vivid presentation.

Madness in Manila includes both the CD and DVD versions of Shadows Fall’s headlining gig at Pulp Summer Slam 9. The Quezon City venue was jam-packed with 25,000 rabid metal fans for the April 2009 show. Bands like Australia’s Unholy Ground and Norway’s Goddamn were also present, but this CD/DVD combo makes good with Shadows Fall and doesn’t waste time getting to the good shit.

Madness bursts out of the box and the Massachusetts band kicks it into high gear with “The Light that Blinds” off 2004’s The War Within. Lead vocalist Brian Fair is a minute but vigorous mass of growls, shouts and inconceivable fucking dreadlocks. Seriously. Wait until he starts whipping that shit around.

The battering barrage of Shadows Fall carries through a cataclysmic cluster of songs and the pace never lets up. The band is relentless, only stopping to periodically to shout a few words of encouragement to the capacity crowd.

Guitarists Jonathan Donais and Matt Bachand provide brilliantly precise guitar, although the camera angles often leave us elsewhere when it’s time for a solo or Bachand’s vocals. This is problematic more than a few times, but the power and pace of the show makes up for it.

Longtime fans will dig the rendition of “Crushing Belial” from Of One Blood. It’s a rare glimpse at the more melodic sound Shadows Fall trafficked in back in the day.

Cuts from The Art of Balance and The War Within pretty much dominate the middle portion of the show, with well-known ones like “Destroyer of Senses” and “Thoughts Without Words” making appearances.

The DVD includes a handful of bonus performances taken from shows in Korea, Japan and the Philippines, but the centerpiece of this combo is obviously the full concert. It’s a fun, energetic, loud show that really showcases the band’s catalogue thanks to a balanced setlist. Even with a couple of cinematography snafus, Madness in Manila proves a satisfying set for any serious Shadows Fall fan.

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