Silent Knight - Masterplan 4/5
1. Prelude: Fear and tyranny
2. The curse of the black rose
4. Prophets of war
5. Silent apparitions (In the night)
6. Pay your dues
7. Evil is thy name
8. When the fallen angel flies
9. Dare to dream
Unbeknownst to many in the Northern Hemisphere, a traditional metal revolution is underway Down Under. The roster of acts from Australia/New Zealand churning out impressive offerings in the power/traditional/thrash metal space grows larger by the day it seems, including long-toiling warriors like Lord, Black Majesty, Pegazus and Ilium, but also a spate of talented younger entrants such as Taberah, Knightmare, Razorwyre, Empires of Eden and Soulforged. Add Perth’s Silent Knight to the list, and do so posthaste. The quintet have recently self-released their debut CD, ‘Masterplan’, and it’s an unbridled killer.
Led by guitarists/songwriters Stu McGill and Cameron Nicholas, Silent Knight have turned in an extraordinary debut effort that should be a blind purchase for aficionados of crunchy, melodic, riffy, mostly uptempo power/heavy metal. The most obvious signpost band is Iced Earth, and not just because McGill is wearing a ‘Night of the stormrider’ shirt in the booklet photos. Some of those galloping guitar parts are straight from the John Schaffer school of riff construction. But it would be misleading to lump Silent Knight in with the Iced Earth clones, because the Perthians (Perthites? Perthers? Perthetariats? Perthaholics?) have a more evolved sound that owes generally to the U.S. traditional/power style, but doesn’t sound exactly like anyone else. A big factor in that regard is vocalist Zoran Cunjack, who possesses a regal tone that reminds me of a cross between the late Michael Grant (Crescent Shield/Onward/Legend Maker) and Scott Stewart (Division). I’ll be honest: Initially, I thought Cunjack’s clear, high, but somewhat strained delivery didn’t fit Silent Knight’s music. By the 3rd spin of the CD, however, I couldn’t imagine anyone else fronting this band. Not everyone will love him, but the fact is that Zoran Cunjack adds character, depth and a unique flair to Silent Knight.
At the end of the day, as always, it’s about the songs, stupid. Fortunately, Silent Knight have delivered a batch of memorable, well-written tunes. For me, fast, galloping songs such as “Masterplan”, “Silent apparitions (In the night)” and “Evil is thy name” leaped out of the speakers immediately and grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, via both their fist-banging riffs and their massive choruses. Over time, however, some of the more subtle tracks worked their way into my soul. The midtempo march of “Pay your dues” (complete with “Heaven can wait” style “woah woah” audience sing-a-long part in the middle) is a bona fide smasher. And CD closer “Dare to dream” is an inspiring 7-minute epic with uplifting lyrics, a quiet beginning, a soaring chorus, and an Iron Maiden-style frantic instrumental section.
Everything on ‘Masterplan’ is so well-executed that you’d never guess this is a self-released debut. The performances are confident and powerful. The sound job is professional, balanced and clear (my only quibble being that the vocals sometimes are a tad too far out front in the mix). The songwriting is stellar. Distribution of this CD may be spotty outside of Australia, but it’s worth the necessary legwork to track down a copy. (I know the French distro of Inferno Records had some copies, or check www.silentknightband.com.) Silent Knight have come up with a winner with ‘Masterplan’. If McGill and Nicholas can sharpen the material just a bit more (a couple of songs don’t quite live up the high standards set by the others) and perhaps tweak the vocals a little, Silent Knight may soon be making so much noise that metalheads around the world have no choice but to sit up and take notice.
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