Silence (The) - Lord of mercy 3.5/5

Reviewed: 12-18-09


1. Way of silence
2. Lord of mercy
3. Night singer
4. Witch
5. Raining my eyes
6. In thy embrace
7. Divine hunger
8. Terra libera
9. Wings of destiny
10. Keep the flame alive
11. Words full of silence

The Silence are a band that I’ve been keeping an eye on for a couple of years now, ever since I picked up a used copy of their 2002 demo ‘Call my name’. Just known as Silence back then, they impressed me with their sturdy NWOBHM-influenced approach, and I was keen to hear more from them on a full-length CD.

It ended up taking them no less than 7 years to make another release, and after a couple of line-up changes and tweaking their name to the definite article they have fashioned this full-length debut CD that has now been picked up for release by Underground Symphony. The original vocalist Danny Glick is gone, and the band have replaced from within their own ranks with guitarist Alex Schettino coming to the fore. This raised a bit of concern as Glick was a likeable if hardly irreplaceable vocalist, but Schettino actually has quite a similar voice and the difference in the end is negligible.

‘Lord of mercy’ features reworkings of all 3 tracks from ‘Call my name’, and carries on in the same vein, though with less of the rocking NWOBHM attitude present on the newer songs. The most immediately notable thing is the lead guitar from Schettino and Fabio Cavestro – not adhering to the more usual neo-classical approach of many of their countrymen, they instead centre more on traditional metal memorability. That statement shouldn’t be mistaken for accusing either of them of lacking any talent though, as their harmonies and solos are intricate and developed, and some of the blazingly fast lead sections are nothing short of a joy.

The guitar playing is in fact more memorable than a lot of the verses, and the vocals are often left being a little incidental next to the teeming melodies. The rhythm section aren’t left in the dust though, and both players give a great account of themselves, with many Harris-esque bass interludes mixing things up and giving the guitarists a run for their money.

The drums are particularly energetic and boosted by a powerful production that encapsulates exactly how a melodic metal CD should sound in this day and age. Every instrument shimmers with energy without becoming over-polished, and that it was all recorded off the band’s own back is even more impressive.

So among all this high praise, why only the modest score? The truth of it is that ‘Lord of mercy’ is simply too long. 66 minutes is quite an ordeal for a traditional metal CD, and the intricacy of the songs in the end works slightly against them. Averaging a running time of between 5 and 6 minutes, they are mostly all good in their own right, but when added together don’t make for a CD that really enslaves the attention. A few begin in one place and end in quite another, with the 7-minute plus “Divine hunger” tricking the first-time listener into expecting a ballad before suddenly bursting into life.

The 2 full-blown ballads – one quite poor and one quite terrible – take up almost 13 minutes between them and shearing them from the tracklist would have made for an altogether leaner offering that would no doubt go down a lot easier. Worse, they detract from the mellow moments in the other songs by adding too much softness to the CD as a whole and wearing the patience unnecessarily thin in anticipation of something heavier. The first of them, “Witch”, is just very by-the-numbers and not engaging, but the sickly and sentimental penultimate song, “Keep the flame alive” is really the worst kind of ballad to be found on a metal CD. It perplexes me that with so many superb ballads out there that show metal bands can slow down without compromising their musical virtues that songs like this are still written.

Still, there are far more inspired moments than there are dull ones. The title track bursts with power, soaring right from the off with a melody that demands to be remembered, and ending strongly with a repeating cry of “never forget”, one of Schettino’s best contributions as the vocalist. The instrumental “Terra libera”, one of the upgraded demo songs, is another stand-out, with all 4 members getting to show off their skills in a tangle of harmonies and fills. This sort of instrumental prowess is the real heartbeat of the CD and is what gives The Silence so much of their charm. They just need to learn to trim a bit of the fat from their writing and they’ll really be on to something.




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