Album Review :
Letter to the Exiles - The Shadow Line

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Band: Letter to the Exiles
Title: The Shadow Line
Label: Strike First Records
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Review By: Steve
Track Listing:
1. Prelude
2. Oh, Holy Dread!
3. It’s Never Safe To Dream
4. From Shadows To Substance
5. Threnody
6. Martyrdom
7. You’re Not Going To Seduce Anyone
8. This Is The Day, The Mourning
9. Interlude
10. Epilogue

All I can say is Facedown/Strike First Records does an excellent job of finding talented artists, and Letter to the Exiles is no exception. They had a solid debut EP A Call to Arms in 2008 on Harvest Earth Records, but The Shadow Line despite some production issues is leaps and bounds better than A Call to Arms.

Letter to the Exiles is a five-piece metalcore band out of Long Island, New Your that really makes metalcore enjoyable. This album has been growing on me with each spin in iTunes. The first thing you notice with The Shadow Line is the music. Because the way it was mixed, the guitars and drums are up front and center kicking you in the face. Like most metalcore, this album is not lacking the double bass pedal, heavy chunky guitar riffs, or brutal breakdowns. “It’s Never Safe To Dream” and “You’re Not Going To Seduce Anyone” boast some excellent guitar work that will please all metal fans.

Lyrically, a lot of The Shadow line is centered on crying out to God for help, healing, and safety. In addition, because of this some of the tracks have a type of prayer quality to them. I really enjoyed this aspect of the album because it really drives home Letter to the Exiles passion and emotion in the album. Nothing screams passion and emotion like Erich does in “From Shadows To Substance,” “This is my last prayer, heal my blackened heart / I can not go on / hiding beneath the water, trying to find the sky / wanting the end to take me, to ease the pain / the light calls to me, as I embrace darkness / this is my last prayer, only you can save my soul.” These guys are not afraid to let you know where their faith and hope lies. I really enjoyed Erich’s deep, throaty screams that add to the passion and intensity of The Shadow Line.

My favorite songs on The Shadow Line are “It’s Never Safe To Dream” because of the ferocity of the drums, the sharp bursting guitar riffs, and the message of turning back to God. Erich’s opening lyrics are great, “This is not who I’m supposed to be, everything’s broken / I dream of a reality, where everything’s alright / I see a light ahead, I see another way out / Running away from all this pain, pray for forgiveness / I see your face, in my dreams, haunting forever / this is not where I am supposed to be, everything’s broken / I release / I see another way around, help escape.” In addition, the other great song is “You’re Not Going To Seduce Anyone” because of the double bass, breakdowns, guitars, and great throaty vocals it reminds you some of what makes metalcore so good.

I only had a few issues with The Shadow Line. The first issue I had with The Shadow Line was the production. The vocals on the album sound really muted compared to the rest of the album. I like that the guitars and drums are at the forefront of the album but the vocals really need some extra “umph” in them to match the ferocity of the music. It could be that it was just the mp3s that I was listening to were bad, and the physical CD will be different. Let us hope that is the case. The last issue I had with the album was the tendency for all the songs to sound the same after a while. This is probably due in part to some of the production.

Overall: This is another solid album from Facedown/Strike First. The Shadow Line is ferocious and passionate and brings some respect back to the metalcore genre. Disregarding the production of the album, The Shadow Line has some excellent music and powerful vocals. In a genre filled with hate and anger, the love and passion of Letter to the Exiles is a refreshing break from the norm.