Silver Talon – Decadence and Decay
Release Date: 28/05/2021
Running Time: 46:44
Review by Simon Black
Today alone I have ploughed through a couple of Power Metal records in my on-going mission to either listen to the bad ones so you don’t have to, or find the diamonds that you need to. Oh so many times, so many of these are constantly ticking the same boxes that it does tend to get repetitive, with the most frustrating fact of all being that generally the level of musicianship is so high, which makes it difficult to differentiate between the vast majority of them. So here’s how this particular debut album fares against the usual Power Metal cliché check list to give you a sense of what we journo’s have to deal with the rest of the time, and why this one is a little special:
- The band is from Germany, Sweden or Italy? Nope, Portland Oregon, USA. That does not mean that they should not travel to these and other Power Metal staple countries as soon as possible, because the rest of the world is going to get a shock.
- The band is a Supergroup, made up from musicians from other Power Metal bands (from Germany, Sweden or Italy)? No again, these chaps all seem quite young, although guitarist Sebastian Silva has definitely been a busy chap in the past. Whether we have heard of them before or not, there is an incredible level of musicianship on display with these boys.
- Dodgy colourful comic book styled cover painting showing either a war, over-muscled heroes doing battle or scantily clad women…or all three? Well the lady in question is definitely on the scantily clad side, but this is way darker in colour and tone than the usual fantasy fare, but given that it was done by fantasy artist Gerald Brom it probably cost more than the studio time.
- A concept album based on either a fictional Sword & Sorcery scenario of the band’s construction or a pseudo-historical war story, or something mythical and easy to recognise but still allowing plenty of scope for artistic licence? Wrong again – although there’s a conceptual theme of darkness underpinning all the songs, each one stands on its own two feet … although they are most likely cloven.
- Lots of uplifting Major key songs, that you don’t need to know the lyrics to be able to sing along to in a festival field whilst utterly wankered on beer and herbal cigarettes? Not in the slightest. Although the musical virtuosity and eye-watering speed are there, this is dark, moody and angst-ridden stuff, to the point where I’m not sure it can technically be called ‘Power Metal’ any more… or maybe the whole genre is about to get a major overhaul.
To be fair though, Euro and USA incarnations are quite distinct from each other although formed from a common root that traces right the way back to the opening strains of ‘Rainbow Rising’, but this is something both of that genre and clearly distinct from it. The eight tracks on here share a common feel and house sound, but are very separate from each other. From the blistering opening of ‘Deceiver, I Am’ to the epic lamenting wails and complexities of ‘Touch The Void’ this is an album that surprises continually and delivers constantly.
‘Divine Fury’ is the first track on this album that sounds like it might have more Eurometal origins, with its blistering opening and Neo-classical harpsichord voiced keys Jens Johansson style introduction, but the brutality and ethos remain firmly further Western side of the Atlantic in sound. It’s one of the more complex tracks on the record, with a complex interweaving melody structure, dizzying time changes and large dollops of the Progressive in the mix, with multiple vocal lines adding layers and layers of complexity and the longer instrumental section keeping that going. It simultaneously appears to be chaotically without structure, whilst also having the most complex of song-structures architecturally, which is no mean feat to achieve. If they can play that live without sheet music, they deserve an award of some kind.
Throughout this record, however, you cannot avoid the sheer heights of musicianship shown. With no less than three guitarists in the mix, the interplay and layering is formidable. There’s no credited keyboard player in there but whoever is doing this needs a credit, because I don’t give the Jens from Stratovarius comparison lightly. The rhythm section is a veritable powerhouse of delivery, and Wyatt Howell’s hauntingly powerful vocal lines leave you feeling slightly uneasy, like the soundtrack to a good horror movie that you simply cannot stop watching. Definitely a diamond, and an exceptional one at that.
‘Divine Fury’ (Official Video)
01. Deceiver, I Am
02. Resistance 2029 (feat. Andy La Rocque)
03. As The World Burns
04. Next To The Sun
05. Divine Fury
06. Kill All Kings
07. What Will Be
08. Touch The Void
Wyatt Howell – Vocals
Bryce R. VanHoosen – Guitar
Sebastian Silva – Guitar
Devon Miller – Guitar
Walter Hartzell – Bass
Michael Thompson – Drums
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