Jonny Santos is a man on a mission.
The frontman for the fairly successful (and Grammy nominated, go figure) nu-metal group Spineshank
has ditched the old band and the old sound to bring to us a monster. Silent Civilian
is a band that a seasoned listener would not at all expect to form from the roots of nu-metal. With their first album, Silent Civilian
seem poised to be a huge underground and potentially mainstream metal giant in the same vein of Shadows Fall
among others. And while Rebirth of the Temple
is by no means a perfect record, it is a VERY solid debut and shows a huge amount of promise for the band's future.
Let's start with the good.
Though the guitar work is the tried and true palm-muted, high distortion, devastating sound we hear in many bands of this genre, it works very well and the band as a whole is extremely cohesive. The opening riffs for Funeral
and The Song Remains UnNamed
are nothing short of a headbanger's wet dream complete with ferocious pacing and some excellent dual guitar work. This is made all the more potent when mixed with Santos's voice.
Simply put, I haven't heard a screamer like Jonny Santos... well, anywhere. It is a dry and raspy voice that truly sounds driven by internal torment and yet, come out sounding damn near inspirational. The title track epitomizes the use of Santos's unique scream/sing with a terrific chorus proclaiming to all who listen, "Strength within is what you need to find." Sounds like Silent Civilian
have taken a few ques from their peers in Hatebreed
in terms of lyrics, but its no less potent a message coming from either band.
The band also pulls a few moves that harkens back to older metal most noticeably of which is the crowd (or band) shouting along "HEY!" with the band. Another exclusive piece to the music is the choir that opens the album on Call To Arms
and closes the furious rocker Lies in the House of Shame
. Oftentimes, incorporating this kind of sound would come off as gimmicky more than anything, but the band make it work into their record and it adds another layer of emotional depth to an already powerful listen.
Powerful? Yes. Flawless? Not so.
For all the stuff they got right, Silent Civilian
does slip up in a few areas. First and foremost is a problem that has become readily apparent in many metal albums, Repetition. After around track 8, this album starts to feel more than a little formulaic and while there are still some interesting solos and a catchy chorus or two, the last songs after the aforementioned Lies...
practically blend together and suffer from a serious case of "been there done that" save the albums fantastic closer Live Again
Secondly, despite all the praise that it deserves, the music still has many problems that need to be weeded out. The first thing that comes to mind has to do with the fact that some songs simply do not hold up well against others. The song Force Fed
is already a cut below the rest of the first-half tracks due to the fact that Santos simply cannot reach the higher notes that he tries valiantly to push out during the chorus. Also, the guitar solos, not only for this song, but also for First Amendment
and Falling Down
sound forced, rushed, and frankly, a bit wanking.
One last point, and this may just be me, but the main riff for Lies in the House of Shame
sounds ridiculously close to the same riff used during the bridge of Lamb of God's
own Now You've Got Something to Die For
. Despite how good the song sounds, its hard to shake off the feeling that this riff sounds way too familiar.
This is all nitpicking however and the truth is, Rebirth of the Temple
is a great metal album, nothing more and certainly nothing less. When its good, this album digs in deep and can even touch the listeners emotions while its attempting to deafen you. This fact alone makes it a great purchase for any metalhead. With time and a little band bonding, Silent Civilian
can certainly come out with some bona fide metal hits in the years to come.
And if this debut is any indication, it sounds to me like Jonny Santos got his gun. With this being the result, let's hope he keeps shooting.
Rebirth of the Temple