The Silent Man
(All Album Reviews by The Silent Man)
A quite appropriately named outfit, as variation is indeed the watchword here. An array of different styles, ranging from spacey fusion to full-on metal, keeps things fresh and interesting for most of this album's duration.
Vocalist Jerry Wengert may be an acquired taste for some - his voice has strong echoes of Wishbone Ash's Andy Powell, and works to good effect on the softer tracks here, but occasionally struggles to have enough impact on the heavier material.
Opener “March To War” is one such case. A hard and straight rocker very much along the lines of Sabbath's “Children Of The Grave”, it forms half of the album's two straightforward metal songs, together with the lengthy centrepiece “Carrin' Carrion”. The latter (with its heavy wah-wah driven guitar) works the better of the two, partly due to the album placement I feel, as a hard rock track is a slightly misleading opener for the overall tone of the album.
The aforementioned Wishbone Ash influence is strongly felt on the splendid “Today I Tried” (best track on here I feel), and “Deeds”, where the music perfectly fits the minor tone of Wengert's voice to excellent effect. There is even a stab at Hawkwind-esque hypnotic space-rock on “None So Blind”.
This is not to say that the album is flawless. Indeed, there is a noticeable drop-off in quality towards the end of the disc, as the band appear to be groping for ideas somewhat. The mid-period Doors influenced “Going” outstays its welcome by at least half of its 7-minute duration, while the lengthy jazzy/metallic hybrid “Regardless” seems to be searching for a direction. Along with the somewhat anticlimactic closer “When The Lights On”, there is certainly to my ears a tail-off of quality which perhaps indicates the album would have been better pared down to 40-minutes in the days of vinyl
Overall however, there is certainly enough quality and breadth of ideas here to mark this out as a promising debut, and with some slightly stronger material the follow up could well be a triumph.
(All Album Reviews by avestin)
This album presents good rock, with progressive tendencies, psychedelic touches which at times evoke a 60’s sound, but without sounding dated or as if they are trying to revive it.
The sound is very clear and “open” if you understand my meaning. Jerry Wengert’s vocals suit the music very well, mostly relaxed, pensive, smooth and soothing even when singing about horrible things the lyrics describe. The musicians are doing their part very well, and do not fall to the trap of trying to show their abilities at the expense of the music.
Each song has a basic theme but they do stir away and introduce variations into each of them, keeping things interesting and this is also where the progressive edge comes in, with for instance the changing time signatures, alternating between different sounding parts, giving way to each musician to have his “say” in the forefront of the song etc.
The lead and rhythm guitars have a lovely crunchy sound, playing psychedelic textures (“Carrin’ Carrion” for example) but don’t dominate the music and leaving room for all instruments to “express” themselves. At times the guitars have this heavy metal sound (think 70’s heavy rock/metal). You should also take notice of the bass work, which is done in a restrained and adequate fashion, making its presence when needed and retreating a bit thereafter.
The album goes in several directions in terms of style. I already mentioned the psych-rock aspect and the heavy metal parts. There are also songs that have a more modern rock approach (“Going”). All in all, this is a good mix of old and new, bouncy and tranquil, solo instrument focus and group effort. Each track has its identity and contributes nicely to the flow of this concept album. However, the main aspect of this album as I see it is creating sound textures and atmospheres which place the listener in a somewhat dark and even weird set. This is not music to dazzle your brains with technical ability, but rather engage it to motion with its often shifting and dynamic nature. Even though there are faster and more energetic parts in the songs, the impression I get of this album is of an album that is more of a laid back album, with a ponderous set of mind which has good “intermissions” in the form of the more rapid and vigorous parts.
My two personal favourite songs here are “None So Blind” and “Going.”
A fine debut effort, very well performed, dark with moderation and overall an album with good balance. Recommended