The War Within is the fourth studio album by American heavy metal band Shadows Fall. The album has sold over 300,000 copies worldwide.The War Within is the band's best selling album, and in 2005 made sales history on Century Media Records when it became the labels best selling album of all time. To date, the album retains this status. The album was also issued as a limited edition digipak with an exclusive bonus DVD that featured bootleg concert footage along with drum and guitar lessons from members of the band. The album debuted at number 20 on the Billboard 200 during its release.
The following is a quote from Tom Bejgrowicz, who worked closely with Brain Fair on the overarching themes and concepts portrayed by the album. He also designed the album artwork.
The idea for The War Within turned to one man – any man, mind you – and the chaos and beauty that surrounds each of us here on earth. Birth, death, love, hate, riots, pollution, power, religion, nature, corruption of the mind, the soul, and so on. By simply living, we are open and susceptible to them all – to confront each of them, from within.
The track "Those Who Cannot Speak" is dedicated to Brian Fair's autistic niece and nephew. Fair explained in an interview:
It’s something I’ve dealt with my niece and nephew who’ve had different forms and mild learning disabilities when it comes to speech – associating objects with language and things like that. And I also read a lot of Faulkner and he always seemed to have characters that kinda had that amazing poetry in their internal monologue but couldn’t speak. And that always intrigued me.
The War Within received positive reception on its initial release. The album debuted at position no. 20 on the Billboard 200 — the band's highest charting album. Wade Kergan of Allmusic notes that the band has grown beyond the metal-loving hardcore crowd, now having more in common with the classic thrash of Metallica. Michael Gluck of Lambgoat commented that the album "delivers itself with a fury and honoring of eighties metal guitar and vocal harmonies." In 2005, the album was ranked number 370 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.
The song "What Drives the Weak" received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Metal Performance in 2006, however the award went to Slipknot for the song "Before I Forget." In a 2009 MetalSucks feature titled "21 Best Metal Albums of the 21st Century... So Far", the album was listed as number 20 based on poll data from professionals in the metal industry. The editors wrote, "The Art of Balance, their third album, was solid, but The War Within was where they really hit their stride. The dual guitars of Donais and Bachand spotlighted great solos and dual harmonies that could be appreciated by both Anthrax fans and pentatonic sweep enthusiasts."