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Old 05-30-2010, 11:45 PM
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Maiden33 Maiden33 is offline
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Silent Call - Greed

Silent Call's debut album "Creations From a Chosen Path" was a pleasant surprise in late 2008. It's not often anymore that I find new bands that really seem worth my time - that if they're not breaking ground, they're at least perfecting an already commendable style I really enjoy. Silent Call is more of the latter. Featuring one of the best ballads I've heard in a long time in "I Believe in Me", and a whole bunch of melodic progressive metal songs that had both hooks and heaviness - "Creations..." has been in occasional rotation for about a year and a half for me. Imagine my excitement when I was informed that the band's sophomore effort - "Greed" was on the way. They then teased us with extensive trailers and clips, and eventually a promo video. Nothing could really hold me over and I was anxious as hell to hear the finished product in full form. Vocalist Andi Kravljaca was the original singer for the now renown prog metal band Seventh Wonder - who released a candidate for album of the decade in 2008 - but now he's onto new things with Silent Call - and I have to say, his vocals here are outshining his vocals of the past. But when it came time to finally give the album the proper listen, I had a couple of questions - mainly one: Could the band take all the promise of their debut, and mature enough to forge an all-around great album with no considerable short-comings? How does "Greed" measure up? It's time to find out.
The album greets the listener with the sound of a scratchy needle, like we have just put on an old vinyl album, which is a sort of cool effect. Instantly I can't help but be somewhat reminded of Dream Theater's "Pull Me Under" given the soft and more atmospheric intro which begins to build throughout the first minute. Given that the aforementioned track kicked off one of the best Prog Metal albums of all-time, one can't help but get excited for what lies ahead - and opening cut "Every Day" certainly delivers the goods. Taking about 90 seconds to build to its monumental metal chug - the band assure the listener that they are gonna get down to business. The keyboards are up front, but in no way bury the riffs, and visa versa - which is a very good thing. There's no doubt that the production is very crisp and everything sounds great. After pretty heavy verses, we are taken into an extremely melodic and powerful chorus, which is sure to have your first in the air and your mouth singing along after only a few listens. After the second chorus there's some oddly aggressive vocals from Andi, which I have to say I'm not incredibly fond of, but they don't get too out of control, and don't hold the song back from being pretty much a ten-out-of-ten. A great solo proceeds the return to the brilliant chorus before the band signs off for this one. There's no doubt that they mean it when Andi says: "Ain't a game - and I ain't here to play". This band means business.
"I Am My Nation", the album's "single" comes next, starting with atmospheric keyboards before another crunchy riff double by some really brutal dirty organ. The band make heavy use of an almost spoken-word effect here which was peppered into their previous album and sees more use again here. I think this song may be the biggest "grower" on the whole disc. The first time I heard it I liked it, but now that I'm about 15 listens in, I can't get enough of this song. The vocal melodies are divine, Andi sings his ass off here - and again the band find pretty much the perfect meeting place between sensible poppy hooks and absolute balls-out metal. Another strong chorus is absolutely headbang-worthy. The band's riffs seem to actually be fairly creative rather than just riding the same one-chord (or even one-note) chugga-chug like so many other Prog Metal bands when they try to be heavy. The solo on this one is even better, definitely among my favorites from the entire album. Eventually the music fades, leaving just the haunting spoken-word type of effect to close out the track. Another definite mark in the "win" column. Anyone familiar with the band's debut album can't help but draw a parallel between third track, "Through the Endless Night" and the third track on their debut, the album's highlight - "I Believe in Me". I'm not in any way suggesting self-plagiarism, the songs are merely fairly similar in style. The style can best be described as a nice melodic ballad that still gets the whole band involved in a great metal track. The chorus is less of an obvious hook and more of a flowing melody, which all segue into more great guitar work. This track does not steal the show like "I Believe in Me" did, but that's less an knock to the song and more of a testament to how strong the rest of this album is. Again, Andi K really shines with some soaring vocals.
Next up is the rousing midtempo track "All That Might Be" - which features another really catchy chorus, which gets easily lodged in my brain. Again - I must stress that for how melodic this band is, they pack all the might and balls of the most ferocious metal acts out there. Not very speedy, but they more than make up for that with sheer riffage and great playing. Also, I think this band does an absolutely phenomenal job with vocal harmonies. They are worked into the melodies so well that they basically take on a life of their own, without beginning to overtake the presence of the lead vocals. No easy task, so massive respect there. Another thing really at play on the previously mentioned track that I adore is the use of keyboard leads, melodies, and textures over very heavy and repetitive guitar riffs. The sort of thing Symphony X used to be brilliant at but have recently backed off of. "Dream Tomorrow" kicks off with an absolutely great riff, eventually giving way to a calm and melodic first verse. Another great midtempo song with an even better chorus, but I can't help but think that maybe this song and "All That Might Be" should have been distanced on the CD. Two great songs that stand amazingly well on their own, but next to eachother, it becomes obvious that there's some similarities. But what's that? Maybe this was intentional - because following a kick-ass instrumental section, there is actually a complete reprise of the chorus of "All That Might Be", which blends perfectly into this song. Kinda strange, but I'm not gonna lie - it works really, really well. Maybe there's some sort of conceptual connection I don't know about. Still - linked or not linked - two more great tracks.
We see a considerable shift in feel with the start of the next song - the more slow and atmospheric tune, "Turn the Tide". A less heavy and more relaxing number though by no means a ballad, the band create a cool vibe here that is again really driven forward by vocalist Andi Kravljaka - and for some reason I can't listen to this without swaying a bit and bobbing my head. Half way through the tune, the band picks up the tempo abruptly for yet another strong solo before some keyboard orchestration drives into probably the coolest "middle section" on the disc, that really scores some BIG extra points for this song - taking it from being one of the album's more forgettable tracks to one of its best. "Unbreakable" comes roaring in like a freight train - probably the fastest, heaviest, and yet also most keyboard-driven songs here. I feel like I'm repeating myself, but the truth is - there's another really strong chorus here with more great hooks, and more fist-in-the-air power. This is probably gonna be one of the most appealing songs here to fans of straight power metal, but still manages lots of progressive shifts and tempo changes.
"Falling From Grace" starts up with some really powerful keyboards and becomes very heavy when it kicks in. This is the longest song to be found here - clocking in at just over 7-minutes. No doubt that this is both the heaviest and most progressive song on the entire disc. As such, it ebbs and flows, and has its strengths and weaknesses. I think it shows that the band isn't incredibly experienced with writing longer, more elaborate material, but to call this track anything like a failure would be very inaccurate. I think it's just that at the end of the day, after heavy listening, this track doesn't stick in my mind like most of the others. There is no huge hook that I always remember, no absolute fist-in-the-air anthemic moments. But it's still very good. The band throw the listener for a loop about 4-minutes through with a more mellow section, very detached in style from the rest of the song. After about 2 and a half minutes of that, the band take an abrupt turn back towards heaviness to finish out the song. As I've said, there's great stuff here, no doubt - I think this track just isn't quite as good as it should be - or moreso what I want it to be given the length. "When Angels Call Your Name" is a pretty cool slower, heavy groove sort of song that manages to make room for some great piano work as well. As with the previous track, I think this is another one that gets sort of lost in the shuffle, even though for what it is on its own, it's a pretty solid tune.
"The Wages of Greed" no doubt makes up for any shortcomings there may have been with the last two tracks. Heavy as hell and completely in your face, this may actually be the band's heaviest song to date, but as expected - melody is not lost on it. Some very cool tempo and feels shifts throughout the song, and the chorus is absolutely dramatic in the best way possible. Yet another tune that I can't help but sing and air-play to every time I hear it - I absolutely love the drumming on the chorus. There's no shortage of variety in the passages, and overall the band just managed to marry all their best elements in one absolutely brutal and amazing song. I can't really think of anything that would make this tune better - there's no doubt to me that this is not only one of the best songs on the disc, but one of the best the band has written thus far.
Now, it should be noted that I am a big sucker for band's ending their albums with more mellow, acoustic sorts of songs, and the band's previous album had one of those for sure. Much to my pleasant surprise, the band opted to end this one in a similar, but even better fashion. "Clavain's Tale", is a simple song consisting of merely various keyboard textures and the amazing, soaring vocals of Andi Kravljaka. The vibe of this tune is monumental though it is so stripped and simple - a true testament to how vocal melodies and pure atmosphere can carry a track. A track like this is also a strong piece of evidence as to why the previously hailed Kravljaka has moved up the radar to be considered one of my favorite vocalists in the emerging metal scene today. There are few who rival this guy in terms of an amazing voice meeting a gift for incredible vocal melodies. This track works very well to bring the listener down an emotional peg and ready them for the end of this next chapter in Silent Call's musical journey.
So, after the final notes have faded, it is undoubted that one question has been answered by the previous hour of music. Silent Call's "Greed" has not only meet and exceeded the quality level of their debut album - but ushered in a new era of maturity for this sill new Swedish band. The vast majority of issues with their debut album have been corrected here, and they have unleashed a batch of undoubtedly strong and memorable tunes that are sure to satisfy fans of progressive and melodic metal the world over. I have certainly noticed this band gaining more recognition in the past few months due to this album - and they deserve it. They deserve much more of it actually. Given the caliber of this album, there's no reason why Silent Call shouldn't be riding the crest of this incredibly respectable musical wave known as European Prog Metal - featuring bands like Pagan's Mind, Circus Maximus, and Seventh Wonder. I can only hope the world takes notice of what this great band have given them.

(Written by Jeff Teets for http://www.wpapu.com)

Last edited by Maiden33; 05-31-2010 at 09:04 AM.
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