Shadows Fall: The Art of Balance [2002]

Released September 17, 2002
Recorded 2002 at Planet Z Studios inHadleyMassachusetts
Genre Thrash metalmetalcore
Length 47:28
Label Century Media
Producer Chris “Zeuss” Harris

The Art of Balance is the third album by American heavy metal band Shadows Fall, released on September 17, 2002. The album sold over 4,500 copies the week of its release, and debuted at position 15 on the Top Independent Albums chart.

Background

The Art of Balance was the first studio album by the band to which the entire lineup contributed, meaning that no songs were re-recorded from older material.[7] Matthew Bachand explained that this unity created a better band and that, “this time, instead of eight Gothenburg death metal songs, we have ballads, rock songs, thrash tunes.”[8]

“Thoughts Without Words” was the album’s first music video, featuring a simple band performance.[9] The follow-up, “Destroyer of Senses,” had the group performing in a snowed-in building and drinking with friends.[10] “The Idiot Box” served as the basis for a final video, featuring the group’s performance and backstage antics.[11] All three videos saw significant airplay on MTV2 and Fuse TV.

Lyrical themes

Thematically, the album was inspired by the quest to find a perfect “balance” between melody and aggression. Lyrically, the album revolves around the fight against spiritually destructive forces. The song “Thoughts Without Words” was influenced by Chinese Buddhism and refers to the moment where, through meditation, a person’s inspiration and expression become united.

The concept behind the album, as explained by Brain Fair: “It’s the idea of oneness and unity between all people and all things. It’s the idea that all systems begin from the same spark and it’s something we get further away from. We’re all in this together.”[7][8] Fair also explained that he came up with the title for the record, and it represents the “balance of melody and aggression,” and the “process of trying to find that balance between the two.”[5]

The song “Thoughts Without Words” is “based around meditation and yoga,” and on “trying to be able to calm the mind and experience things without constantly thinking them.”[5] In other words, being lost in the moment. “Destroyer of Senses” is about Fair’s father’s battle with alcoholism. Alcohol, or even certain experiences, can make one feel more alive (‘Giver of life’), but at the same time affect the senses (‘Destroyer of senses’).

Reception

The Art of Balance received excellent reviews upon its release. The album is often praised by critics, and is a favorite among fans of the band’s earlier work.

Track listing

All lyrics written by Brian Fair, all music composed by Shadows Fall, except “Welcome to the Machine,” written and composed by Roger Waters.

No. Title Length
1. “Idle Hands” 3:34
2. “Thoughts Without Words” 4:31
3. “Destroyer of Senses” 2:54
4. “Casting Shade” (instrumental) 2:09
5. “Stepping Outside the Circle” 5:14
6. “The Art of Balance” 4:46
7. “Mystery of One Spirit” 5:10
8. “The Idiot Box” 4:30
9. “Prelude to Disaster” (instrumental) 1:48
10. “A Fire in Babylon” 7:30
11. Welcome to the Machine” (Pink Floyd cover) 5:05

Lyrics

1. Idle Hands

Just a word all it takes to set it off
Uncontrolled all restraint has been lost

Absorbing more than I can stand
Of these self defeating unreal demands
Giving into frustrations command
The devil makes good use with idle hands
Overwhelming desire to react

I am too far gone forever turning back

Looking for something to lash out at

Turning inward it is myself that I attack

The anger grows inside everyday
Unquenchable I have become my own prey

From where has this rage been spawned?
Been building deep inside for far too long
Forgotten memories buried and hidden
creating my own emotional prison

Can it be that I have lost?
Control of my actions and my thoughts

2. Thoughts Without Words

Having awareness but no true sense of self
You find yourself enslaved in chains of earthly wealth
The unending chatter that plagues the mind
Confusion will be all that you find

Chaos reigns in an untamed mind

Still question all I know advancing forward
This fallacy I have disowned

You must quench the yearning and false desire

Only balance will elevate you higher

You must train the body and the mind to serve
Envisioning thoughts without words
Chaos reigns in an untamed mind

Still question all I know advancing forward
This fallacy I have disowned

Encaged in a world that fear creates
You must release yourself and liberate

I am seeking the way…

3. Destroyer Of Senses

The sweet taste of self destruction
Insecurity wash away the memories

I keep on falling off
I keep on falling off

The agents of change have dissolved!
Into the fabric of our very existence

I keep on falling off of this straight and narrow line
The calm embrace of a sedated mind

Giver of life
Destroyer of senses
I INVOKE!
I INVOKE!
The sweet taste of self destruction

[x2]
Giver of life
Destroyer of senses
I INVOKE!

The sweet taste of self destruction
Insecurity wash away the memories

[x2]
I keep on falling off of this straight and narrow line
The calm embrace of a sedated mind

4. Casting Shade

[instrumental]

5. Stepping Outside The Circle

Here I go again
A vicious Cycle without end
Seeking distance for security
A desperate act to remain free
A balance point cannot be found
This whole thing will come crashing down
Down! Down!
My fear will drag you down
Into this world that I create
Your love for me has sealed your fate
Down! Down!
My fear will drag you down
Can I trust in what I feel?
Praying that this time it’s real
Feel the strain!
All this times been spent in vain MY SHAME!
open wounds that still remain DECAY!
As my faith is stripped away YOU’LL STRAY!
The final price I have to pay

Digger in deeper still
The hollowness I yearn to fill
The story always ends the same
The cycle soon begins again

Stepping outside the circle!

6. The Art Of Balance

I am sheltered by this apathy
Nothing left to do but torch the day
Retreating deeper into my mind
What is it that I hope to find?

This is the aftermath in me
Tendency to keep it all inside
A fool’s disguise

I am strangled by this sympathy
Empty words with no meaning
Must release myself into the void
All illusions must be destroyed

This is the aftermath in me
Tendency to keep it all

How dare you compromise
The balance of our lives
Excuses you devise
An internal suicide
I struggle to survive
A perfect goal for which to strive
Ignorance cannot disguise

The balance of our lives
Hiding the meaning of
Hiding the meaning of

7. Mystery Of One Spirit

Inspiration is the light of the mind
Revelation the meaning behind
Clouds of sacred incense allow us to rise
Cast away all our earthly ties

Without a veil of tears

Journey Of the Magi Cascading

Fulfillment of our mind your cowardice

Is fuel for this deception your vanity

destruction of your soul

Cannot defend lies without end
I’ll smash you trend living to be free

Cannot defend lies without end
I will pretend NO MORE!

Smashing through the doors of perception

Realization of a world beyond the tangible

Ancestral wisdom. Timeless Inspiration

The Mystery of one spirit

I create the light I create the darkness
Author alike of prosperity and woe
Their god is but a symptom of their power
Another tool they use to dominate and conquer

8. The Idiot Box

Staring forward with vacant eyes

Imagination Cannot survive

Misinformation and compromise

These televised conditioned lies

Create a system of belief
Heartless purveyors of deceit

Seems clear to me you’ve never known me
Doubt everything you’ve never shown me

Images flash by in waves
What to buy and what you’ll save
All the products that you never craved
you’ve become another slave

All the lies that you told
I will not be bought or sold
I won’t fit into your mold
I will not be bought or sold
RISE! And break away from the system
RISE! And crush the voices in your head RISE!
I want back what you stole from ME!

9. Prelude To Disaster

[instrumental]

10. A fire In Babylon

A fire burns in Babylon a spark will soon ignite
Burning flame of Jah light a fire that will purify
Wipe away the city’s lies reducing fortunes into ash
Tear apart your useless mask
Nowhere left for you to hide
Damned for your foolish pride
Chant down Babylon Chant down Babylon

Revelations time is now
Your world will crumble to the ground
Final judgement now has come this is Armageddon

A eulogy for the modern man enslaved and devoured
By the strength of it’s demands
A eulogy for the modern man hide your head and cower
Or be struck down where you stand

To advance in truth and rights
To advance in love and light
The path of righteousness is leading
The songs of I and I are pleading
In the grace pf Mt. Zion
With the strength of a lion
All barriers shall be broken
All heart alight and open
A fire burns in Babylon your world will burn
A fire burns in Babylon you world is burning down

11. Welcome To The Machine

[Pink Floyd cover]

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine
Where have you been?
It’s alright we know where you’ve been
You’ve been in the pipeline, filling in time
Provided with toys and ‘Scouting for Boys’
You brought a guitar to punish your ma
And you didn’t like school
And you know you’re nobody’s fool
So welcome to the machine

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine
What did you dream?
It’s alright we told you what to dream
You dreamed of a big star
He played a mean guitar
He always ate in the Steak Bar
He loved to drive in his Jaguar
So welcome to the Machine

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