Silenmara - Collection of conscience 3/5

Reviewed: 12-1-11


1. Delirium tremens
2. Collection of conscience
3. Elixir
4. Subject of compromise
5. Pnumonic incision
6. The count
7. Cheshire cat

It’s never easy to know how much we should flex in our genre coverage here at Metal CD Ratings. Even a cursory look at the site shows that we are (and we pride ourselves on being) focused on power and traditional metal genres, with substantial complementary coverage in the related territory of thrash, doom, and gothic. One thing you won’t find on the site in large quantities is death metal. It’s not that we think it sucks or reject it out of hand. It’s just that we specialize, of necessity really. There aren’t enough hours in the day to listen to and review all the good heavy music being made these days. So when a band like Silenmara contacts us to ask if we are willing to review their art, 2 conflicting impulses bubble to the surface. First, we want to help young, struggling, talented metal bands get exposure and recommendation, especially those who take the initiative to seek us out. 2nd, however, we want to stay true to our narrow mission and our focus on the melodic and the traditional realms. With Silenmara, the former consideration won out, but we knew from the outset that ‘Collection of conscience’ was likely on the fringes of our self-imposed stylistic boundaries.

From that verbose wind-up, it should be fairly obvious that Silenmara explore more extreme metal soundscapes than the run-of-the-mill band we review here. I don’t know how they categorize themselves, but I would describe these Floridians broadly as melodic death metal, albeit not in the straightforward Gothenburg style of the late-90s and early-2000s, as popularized by old In Flames and Dark Tranquility. No, Silenmara offer a fiercely modern take on the sound, and they combine their viciously harsh and dark side with shimmering clean melodic choruses of the sort that I would (perhaps ignorantly, as I’m no expert on this branch of Sam Dunn’s metal family tree) ascribe to metalcore, a la bands like Killswitch Engage and All That Remains. My band comparisons may not be dead-on, but that’s how it comes across to these unsophisticated ears.

Nonetheless, I think it’s fair to say that Silenmara sound different from the Soilworks and Triviums of the world because of the extremes of the territory that they mine. Their death metal elements are unflinchingly brutal: downtuned bludgeoning guitars, harsh vocals that sometimes approach grindcore territory, blastbeats... the works. Those not enamored of extreme metal may find these aspects of Silenmara difficult to swallow. Yet they move seamlessly between these face-ripping exercises in brutality and often poppish, radio-friendly clean melodic choruses. Another dynamic in Silenmara’s material is the decidedly ethereal proggy (jazzy?) passages added to tunes like (“Pnumonic incision” and “Cheshire cat”) for extra spice. As always with melodic death metal, it’s the contrast between (and the melding of) these elements that either renders it magical or utterly confuses the listener. For me, it was some of both, I guess.

Given my proclivities towards more conventional, old-school metal, it should come as no surprise that ‘Collection of conscience’ was not a particularly easy listen for me. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. On the contrary, this CD has a lot to recommend it to our more open-minded readers. From a technical standpoint, the musicianship is impressive throughout, from the twin-guitar histrionics of Jason Gato and Paul Casas to the relentless percussive assault of Adrian Perez to the shape-shifting larynx of singer Reggie Miller. The production job of Tony Choy (Athiest, Pestilence, Cynic) and Santiago Dobles (Aghora) is thoroughly modern and thoroughly crushing. Some of the melodic parts are mesmerizing too. Check out the fancy fretwork and stellar riffage that propels “Subject of compromise”. And “Delirium tremens” features a positively haunting clean-voiced refrain, repeating the words, “You’re pitiful/And I’m not impressed.” A powerful statement, indeed.

I don’t know that the median Metal CD Ratings would be interested in Silenmara. It may be simply too chaotic and too far removed from your musical bread and butter. That said, for those who already have a taste for melodic, modern death metal, or who may be looking for a well-executed example of the style to investigate further, ‘Collection of conscience’ earns an easy recommendation. For me, I doubt this CD is one to which I will return often – I’m too set in my ways, and I’m just not that angry. But I do appreciate it for what it is and enjoy it as a well-done change of pace from my usual diet of Maiden-aping, Odin-praising, double-bass driven old-school metal.




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