The inbox provideth; all hail the mighty inbox! Today’s album was submitted to us by a reader and for that, we are grateful. Silence Lies Fear make the kind of melodic, technical death metal that’s been all the rage in the recent few years. Heralded by bands like Bloodshot Dawn, the style also seeped into other corners of the metal genre, spawning unique iterations on the sound. The most famous of which is (for better or for worse) Fallujah‘s The Flesh Prevails. Shadows of the Wasteland draws from both of these albums for inspiration, producing the kind of epic, inherently melodic but still technically impressive death metal which you’d expect from their mix. But in a genre which is seeing immense proliferation, do Silence Lies Fear manage to make their own claim, carving out a space for themselves?
The answer is both yes and no. In order to survive in such an environment, where the type of music you produce is being made all around you by other bands, you need a certain type of skillset. The exact nature of those skills changes between sub-genres. In this case, the number one name of the game is restraint; do you have the discipline to resist the extravagance of notes that often infects the sub-genre? Most of the time, the answer in Silence Lies Fear’s case is yes. Their main guitar riffs are well executed and fully able to stay the course and support the structure of the track. This means that most tracks enjoy a pleasing coherence and direction, avoiding a certain scattered feeling that is rampant throughout technical death metal. Check out “Aftermath” and its main riff for a good example and listen to the way in which it supports the forward motion of the track.
But when it comes to the many solos interspersed throughout the album, sections on which the influences of the above cited Bloodshot Dawn and Per Nilsson, a certain unnecessary multiplicity of phrases is apparent. To put that more simply, there are just too many notes; when a phrasing or a transition can be stated with X number of notes, Silence Through Fear choose to say it with X+5 number of notes. This leads the composition to pause when it’s time for a solo, creating an often disjointed feeling with the rest of the track. A great example can be heard on the third track, “Shores of Time”. Close to the track’s end, the solo erupts and goes on for a bit longer than we’d like, the track’s momentum freezing in place to accommodate it. There are too many flourishes being played as well, distracting from the rest of the instrumentation.
When these proclivities for flamboyancy are kept in check, Shadows of the Wasteland is pretty damn endearing. Stand out track “The Shadow of I” for example, with its tasteful piano opening and hints of Insomnium on the main riff, is a banger and a half. The track never stops for a second, the harsh vocals working beautifully with the poignant tinge on the guitars. The leads work artfully with the backing guitars, adding an edge to their execution. There are scales and blistering traversal of them aplenty but everything is much more cohesive, working together as a unit rather than giving forbearance to the guitars. This cohesiveness also creates plenty of other great tracks, like “The Oblivion” (which has amazing synth roles) or closer “Undying Mind”. When Silence Lies Fear focus and bring it together, they can make immensely catchy and pleasing music.
So, does the album have missteps? It certainly does and they aren’t minor either; there are points where the guitar works simply takes over the composition and halts the virtuous progression of the tracks. But when these elements are in remission, held in check by the work of the band together, Shadows of the Wasteland is a hell of an album, adding to the growing obsession in metal with this type of sound. Therefore, it’s well worth your time if you can look past some of the indulgence which the band allow themselves. If you’re looking for fast guitars, epic atmosphere and an overall commitment to death metal and its ideals, this is a good place to look; just be prepared for note spaghetti and plenty of it.
Shadows of the Wasteland was released on March 20th via Soundage Productions. You can head on over to the band’s Bandcamp above to grab it.