Silent Screams-When It Rains

The new album When It Rains from Coventry band Silent Screams marks not only an impressive debut for the UK metalcore band but the initial release from Ghost Music, the new label founded by Ghostfest creator Toyan St Hilaire, who made the band his first signing. Immediately impressed by the band’s album St Hilaire threw himself into unleashing it on the world; commenting about the release he said “As soon as I heard the new SILENT SCREAMS record, I just knew it was gold – I just knew I had to do something with it… ‘When It Rains’ made such an impact on me that I’ve decided to finally put my money where my mouth is; hence GHOST MUSIC was born! I’m super excited to be working with this band and their record!”  Upon hearing When It Rains it is easy to understand his enthusiasm as the album is a power house of intent and creation. For a debut it is immense and though it may not be flawless it carries an edge and purpose as well as thoroughly stunning sounds that many if not most releases lack.

The band already have impressed during their rise up the UK metal ranks, tours and shared stages with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Your Demise, For The Fallen Dreams, and Emmure around not only the UK but Europe and Australia, bringing constant upward surge in their following and anticipation for their debut release. When It Rains produced by renowned producer/engineer Joey Sturgis (Devil Wears Prada, Asking Alexandria, Miss May I), does not disappoint at all only pleases.  

To some extent When It Rains takes a little work when first diving into its feast of sound, there is not an immediate connection. Well not strictly true as musically it does light up the senses and offers intrigue and thrills at every twist and turn in its varied soundscape of hardcore, progressive and melodic metalcore. Where it struggled to make an impact initially was vocally though repeated listens, which all releases deserve for a true assessment, found the blend much easier to come to terms with. It is hard to work out if it is the production or James Ryan’s natural delivery but his growls and shouts at times lack definition and are too unrefined to make them easy at first to take in. To be fair it does not help when alongside him bassist Tom Craig provides clean vocals that are glorious and give a wonderful scope to the songs. Personally the hope more use will be made of his voice in the future to bring a greater even mix between them both brings eager anticipation.

That is the only issue there is with an excellent debut form the band. Musically they are tight and unafraid to infuse varied directions and ideas which provide a constant interest and invitation within their release. Opening track ‘Assume The Worst’ strikes with full aggression and intent providing a mighty wave of fierce drumming from the explosive Adam Mallabone and cutting guitars sounds and bludgeoning riffs from Sam Varney and Ozzi Osman. The first half of the track paces itself with a firm steadiness holding back its diverse moment when with a growling riff and resonating bass from Craig it starts exploring and expanding its limits, the vocals from the bassist soaring out over the gruffness of Ryan.

The consistency across the album is perfect, not one track dipping below the high level set with the opener. Songs like ‘Desperation’ with its commanding teasing groove, the strongly emotive ‘Til There’s Nothing Left’, and the album’s best track ‘Sinking’ all raise the bar with sounds and performance lined with fierce assertiveness and incisive delivery. The latter of the three unveils its kaleidoscope of inspired songwriting, intricate play, and diversity wonderfully, engaging forcibly as it permeates the senses. It is the strongest example of what the whole album achieves and which is bringing menacing and brutal sounds together with stirring harmonies and delicious melodies that enthuse as equally as the forthright and irrepressible riffs.

When It Rains is an immense debut and gives strong excitement for future releases from Silent Screams, and if they find sort out the vocals a little more the band will tower over most rivals.

RingMaster 25/10/2011

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Noctem – Oblivion

Oblivion is the second part of a trilogy from Spanish blackened death metalers Noctem and an album as intense and notable as its intent and theme. Following on from the 2009’s Divinity, the new album is a dramatic and crushing release and an impressive step forward for the band. The band already no stranger to strong praise with Oblivion is set to consolidate and further their status as one of the more exciting creative death metal bands.

From Valencia Noctem took until 2009 to release their debut album Divinity though there were releases from the band which formed in 2001. The demos Unholy Blood in 2002, a live cd live 2004, and the mcd God Among Slave all garnered increasingly strong acclaim but it was with the debut album that they made the deepest mark. 2008 saw founder members vocalist Beleth and guitarist Exo joined by bassist Ul, drummer Darko, and Helion on guitar, and it can be no coincidence it is with this settled line-up that fortunes and levels rose for the quintet.  

Shows and tours too took them further into the awareness and respect of more and more eager fans, sharing stages with the likes of Ragnarok, Gorgoroth, Finntroll and Carach Angren the perfect arena to share their inspired brutality lined with creative and melodic juices with more and more appreciative ears. Oblivion shows the band have now reached new heights and evolved into a beast that knows how to make aggressive and vital sounds delivered with passion and dark intensity.

Opening instrumental ‘Popol Vuh’ sets the scene with atmospheric brief soundscape that leads with increasing tension to the coming of something formidable. ‘The Arrival of the False Gods’ is that impending power, its violent crushing riffs and rhythms going straight for the jugular with only smart and distinctive guitar play giving any sense of a respite. It is a solid and commanding start though it does not give anything to go further than just riling up the senses. It is with its successor ‘Universal Disorder’ that things take off and stretch into loftier levels. Bristling with black attitude and determined destruction the track consumes every pore. Through his bestial growls and taunting delivery Beleth’s vocals are as emotive as the content and sit perfectly upon the driven riffs and the melodically infused insertions from the guitars.

The music throughout the album is forceful though despite its harsh and vehement nature does not unleash an intensity that is as destructive as it could have been, preferring to enforce the energy through striking and incisive melodies alongside precise and explosive blackened grooves under pummelling riffs. Songs like the mighty ‘Invictus’ the first single taken from the album and a track that ripples with oppressive and ominous malevolence reminding of the evil of masses wielding power throughout history, the unrepentant ferocity of ‘Seeking the Ruin Of Souls’ which literally burns flesh within the ear as the cutting guitars and scorching vocals strip the senses, and the amalgam of melodic beauty and knee buckling energy of ‘Unredemption’ satisfy and reveal their quality to deep effect.

Oblivion available worldwide via Rising Records / Metal blade Records is a haunting release full of foreboding within its blend of death metal and technical progressive melodies, though that is simplifying what they create. It is emotive and powerful combining an array of dark spite and malevolent beauty, a release that is at times majestic and always stirring. The sounds recall the likes of Behemoth, Dissection, and Kataklysm to name three, but it is also distinctive to Noctem and with a freshness that is reassuring. Bring on the final part of the trilogy as on this evidence it will be epic.

RingMaster 25/10/2011

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