Established in 2001, Brazilian metal veterans Shadowside achieved international notoriety in 2011 with their third album, Inner Monster Out. Produced by Fredrik Nordström and spearheaded with the release of an official video for "Angel With Horns", the album stood head and shoulders above the band's previous records - Theatre Of Shadows (2007) and Dare To Dream (2009) - opening up the world stage to Shadowside and enabling them to build on their reputation as a viable South American metal export. It's been a long five years of waiting for their loyal and increasingly larger fanbase, but Shadowside finally returned to Sweden's Fredman Studio in 2016 for a marathon 20 day recording session with Nordström and co-producer Henrik Udd, turning out their strongest work to date, Shades Of Humanity.
"We were very well rehearsed for the recordings so we were well prepared," says vocalist Dani Nolden. "The playing in the studio was very tight, there were some songs that we changed completely when we got there, so we ended up re-writing some of the songs on the spot. It was a very interesting experience and it was a lot of fun. We had even more fun doing this album than Inner Monster Out; the whole process was super relaxed even with the last minute changes we had to make."
Shadowside were very aware they couldn't leave the studio with anything that was less than Inner Monster Out, and in spite of the album's success they didn't let that influence the songwriting for Shades Of Humanity. The band knew if they did that it would be forced and they would end up pushing the new music in the direction of Inner Monster Out, which wouldn't be the authentic process that Nolden and her bandmates have always believed in. They allowed themselves to write songs that sound different, some of which go back to Theatre Of Shadows and Dare To Dream, but in a more mature way.
"We had more freedom thanks to the success of Inner Monster Out because we realized it worked," Nolden says. "We really expressed ourselves on that album and we did it again with Shades Of Humanity. We wanted things to be a little more organic this time and I think Fredrik achieved that with louder guitars. I think it sounds even more like a live album, and he really insisted that we don't lower the guitars in the mix. We were only going to do that if it was really necessary (laughs). The album has a lot of energy and you can hear everything that's going on."
An additional energy boost for the new album came from former HammerFall bassist Magnus Rosén, who joined Shadowside in 2015. Not only did he bring decades' worth of musical experience to the fold, Magnus wrote two songs with guitarist Andy LaRoque of King Diamond fame that appear on the album ("Haunted" and "Unreality"). The end result is "definitely better than what we'd hoped for" according to Nolden. The songs turned out better than expected as all band members were fully involved in the writing process,
"I expected Magnus to be a little more distant, just do his recordings and leave the studio," admits Nolden, "but he was with us all the time, very much involved in the band. He would always give us musical ideas on everything that was going on. He's very dedicated; Magnus was made for us."
Shadowside is convinced the fans will be blown away by Shades Of Humanity. Whether it's go-for-the-throat scorchers like "Insidious Me", "Unreality" and "Haunted", modern-edged crushers "Make My Fate" and "The Fall", or experimental stand-out tracks "Drifter" and "Alive", the new album shows off a confident Shadowside branching out in ways nobody expected. It was worth the wait.
"Maybe we have to pick things back up with the press, but we have kept in touch with the fans and we've stayed active," Nolden insists. "We all went through some heavy personal issues, and I think all of that brings us closer to the people because they see we are human. They can relate to what we've gone through and that gives us a balancing point. It's not going to be too difficult for us to build things back up again because now that we've started to talk about the new album we see people coming back. They haven't forgotten about us, they've just been waiting patiently. It shows us that everything we did with Inner Monster Out earned us a loyal following. That's a very exciting and special thing for us."
Dani Nolden - vocals
Raphael Mattos - guitar
Magnus Rosén - bass
Fabio Buitvidas - drums
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