Fallout From the War starts out much harder than its immediate predecessor, 2004's highly regarded retro-thrash effort, The War Within. The riffs mostly grind where they once soared, and vocalist Brian Fair barks and roars (except on the last track), instead of going for the melodic choruses that make the Ozzfest kids jump. Sometimes, as on "This Is My Own," a little of the overwrought anthemic style of the old Shadows Fall peeks through, but it's quickly battered into submission by the Panteralike drumming and downtuned steamroller guitars.
The "Beautiful People" beat that opens the band's version of Only Living Witness' "December" is another pleasant surprise. Not so much, though, the all-too-reverent redoing of "Mark of the Squealer" by NYHC also-ran Leeway. There's no curveball like a poker-faced cover of an '80s hair-band nonclassic, of course, and the screechy take on Dangerous Toys' "Teasn', Pleasn'" that closes this disc (punctuation errors intact -- nice work, guys) might send a few puzzled metal yoots prowling in dollar bins or embarking on eBay searches. Or maybe not. Ultimately, though, for all its weird merits, Fallout From the War is nonessential and would have worked better as Disc Two of a deluxe War Within reissue.