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(55:18; Open Mind Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Fair Warning 0:20 2. Tectonic Plates 16:10 3. Scorched Earth Path 13:08 4. Dance of the Shuriken 3:06 5. Lunar Sunrise 9:04 6. Beyond the Pass 0:38 7. Twilight Furies 10:46 8. Perilous Borders 2:06 LINEUP: Johan Hedman - keyboards, drums, percussion, bass, vocals, effects Erik Forsberg - vocals Simon M. Svensson - bass with Hannes Ljunghall - keyboards
Prolusion. Swedish band VIOLENT SILENCE have been a going entity since the late 1990's, and since they released their first studio album in 2003 a total of four albums have been issued by the band. "Twilight Furies" is their most recent production, and was released through local Swedish label Open Mind Records in the late fall season of 2020.
Analysis. While Violent Silence easily joins the ranks of bands that are hard to categorize as far as specific style is concerned, one aspect of the material at hand on this album at least makes me conclude that retro-oriented progressive rock sounds like a very good description for what this album is all about. If I had been forced to detail this further, I would probably say something along the lines of related to symphonic progressive rock: The compositions feature some trademark aspects of that particular style, albeit assembled and explored in a rather particular manner that doesn't make this album a perfect match for that category of music. But by and large my opinion is that this categorization is more representative than other alternatives. As this description should imply, keyboards are a central instrument throughout this production. Just about all of them retro-sounding affairs, and ranging from electric piano and traditional keyboard sounds to the trusty old organ and the harpsichord, and unless I'm much mistaken the Mellotron has been dusted off for the occasion too. As such this album is something of a feast for keyboard enthusiasts, with an often prominent bass guitar and steady, subtly expressive drum patterns as the icing on the cake. And, indeed, as far as I can tell the only guitar used here is the instrument with four strings. Hence guitar aficionados won't find all that much to enjoy here, unless they have a particular fancy for the bass guitar that is. What is a striking feature for this album is the manner in which the keyboards are used. A recurring detail here is that at least one keyboard will deliver a rhythm-oriented motif, with distinct tie-ins to the bass guitar and the drums, while the other keyboards present will deliver flowing textures, fluctuating patterns or surging movements. Sometimes with all of these elements present. The compositions will ebb and flow in intensity using variations in pace and the number of keyboard instruments present as well as the intensity of the specific and individual keyboard sound and loudness. At times extremely engaging, and as mentioned something of a feast for keyboard enthusiasts. In addition, there's a liberal amount of percussion added to the mix as well. Some of the aforementioned rhythm oriented keyboard details will sound pretty much like the xylophone or the marimba, and whether in emulated or true form both of these instruments are applied here as well. The former mainly on the title track 'Twilight Furies', while the latter appears here and there throughout the other long compositions here and most prominently on the creation 'Tectonic Plates'. And holy marimba, what a striking and intense affair this specific song is. Fans of the marimba as an instrument really need to hear this composition, as well as those truly fond of percussion instruments in general. Amidst all this praise, there is a less positive side to this album as well, at least for me, and that concerns the vocals. The lead vocals are generally on the weak side, delivered with a high degree of emotional intensity but with less focus on the melodic and harmonic side of things. Some the vocals appears to be purposefully twisted and gnarly, to the point where my wife, whose background as a choir singer makes me seek out her opinion on occasion, described these vocal parts as painful to listen to. The clean lead vocals are more passable, but in some of the more intense section I do have issues with both pitch and tone control. The vocals are put quite a bit down in the mix in places, possibly to make this a lesser total issue on the album, but this aspect of the album will be a divisive one. If high intensity, emotional lead vocals is regarded as a positive you will find this in spades on "Twilight Furies", but if you prefer harmonic vocals and well controlled melodic vocals those doesn't appear all that often. Some vocal parts are fine though, and some of the vocal harmonies are actually decent to good as well, but from my perspective at least the quality of the vocals overall are well below average.
Conclusion. The very best parts of "Twilight Furies" are amazing, fantastic and brilliant. The manner in which multiple keyboards with and without rhythm functions combines with bass, drums and percussion can at times be breathtaking, and while at times starkly different in scope and approach the particular retro-oriented sound explored on this album makes me think of recent US symphonic progressive rock band The Psychedelic Ensemble, for those who are aware of that project. While the vocals are a clear weak point of this production, those who know, love and treasure retro-oriented progressive rock with keyboards as the main instrument and clear connections to symphonic progressive rock as a specific style orientation will find a lot to cherish on "Twilight Furies". And if you in addition love strong rhythms work in general and percussion in particular, I do suspect that you'll find this album to be well worth your time.
Progmessor: December 2020
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