(Andy Synn has decided to break the cardinal rule of our site – again – by throwing his weight, and his words, behind the new album from Portland Progressive Power Metal paladins Silver Talon)
The ability to compare one band with another – or with many others – is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable tools in a writer’s arsenal.
Oh, sure, it can be abused and misused – so can any tool – but being able to say that “band [a] sound a bit like band [b]”, or “like the bastard child of [x] and [y]” or “a more modern version of [z]” is a great way to put your reader in the right sort of mindset, and give them some useful context and perspective, to help them appreciate the music they’re about to hear and/or read about.
Still, even I’m willing to admit that it can sometimes be used as a crutch, especially in cases – such as this one – where there’s one particularly obvious comparison that would be far, far, too easy to make.
So, to challenge myself, I’ve decided to review the new album from Progressive/Heavy/Power Metal posse Silver Talon without explicitly mentioning that band at all.
Will I be able to do it? Quoth the raven…
Compared to their 2018 EP, Becoming a Demon, the group’s debut album is undeniably a heavier, more modern take on the Prog/Power Metal formula, with a chunkier, crunchier guitar tone, a beefier, ballsier drum sound, and an altogether harder-hitting approach.
This is made immediately apparent by the rugged riffage propelling opener “Deceiver, I Am”, which honestly wouldn’t sound out of place on a Thrash or Melodeath album and serves as a grand (re)introduction to the band’s tightly written, tautly executed blend of chuggy-yet-proggy riffs, punchy percussion, and exceptionally nimble lead guitar work, all of which you can hear working together in harmony to produce a plethora of compellingly catchy rhythms and shamelessly sharp hooks – especially during the album’s multitude of extravagant choruses, which allow the moodily melodic vocals of frontman Wyatt Howell to really cut loose.
And while the album is, arguably, at its best when it’s at its most straightforward – the hyper-melodic, adrenaline-fuelled gallop of “Divine Fury” (which also features some great rhythmic interplay between drummer Michael Thompson and bassist Walter Hartzell) only gets better the more you listen to it, while the impressively intense, utterly infectious “Kill All Kings” was clearly selected as one of the album’s pre-release tracks for the simple reason that it’s practically overflowing with electrifying metallic energy – that’s not to say that some of the record’s more restrained (relatively speaking, I mean) moments don’t also play an equally important role in the grand scheme of things.
The stomping, stop-start riffage and muscular, mid-paced momentum of “As the World Burns”, for example, gives the group an opportunity to play around with some proggy rhythmic tricks and shredding melodic licks strongly reminiscent (in a good way) of you know who, and is undoubtedly one of the album’s biggest highlights, while the gloomy balladic strains of “What Will Be” provide an effective and eloquently arranged change of pace before the record reaches its finale in the shape of climactic closer “Touch the Void”.
But, oh my, what a closing statement it is, stretching the band’s songwriting – and it’s their songwriting which really makes this record shine – to new limits, incorporating some absolutely stunning interplay between acoustic/flamenco/distorted guitars and some astonishingly nimble bass work, as well as delivering some of the biggest, boldest, and downright hookiest riffs on the entire album, over the course of eight ear-catching minutes.
Sure, ultimately Silver Talon aren’t breaking the mould or reinventing the wheel – anyone who’s a fan of, say, mid-period Firewind, latter-day Judas Priest, or the band that will not be named circa Dreaming Neon Black, will probably already know what to expect, and probably also find a lot to love here because of that – but it’s the band’s songwriting (coupled with their obvious artistic abilities and technical talents) which really makes this record stand out from the crowd, and I fully expect even bigger, better, and more bombastic, things from this band in the years to come.