Review Summary: Genre fusing Brits show no fear in experimentation.
Formed in 2004 and hailing from Dartford, England, Silent Descent are a 7 piece metal band often dubbed as “trance metal”. Their sound can be described as melodic death metal punctuated with synth patterns and trance beats. Though to some this may instantly sound gimmicky, one cannot deny that their debut, Duplicity
, is, if nothing else, a gutsy effort from a young band who are clearly confident enough to try new things within the genre in order to prevent the sound from growing stale. Though many of the riffs on offer would fit snugly into any Scandinavian melodic death metal album, it is the bold introduction of new elements that will keep Silent Descent from fading into the background of a scene teeming with similar sounding bands.
Regrettably, it is often a simple task to deduce a band’s influences based on their sound. In theory, practice makes perfect, but if what you’re practicing has been tried and proven by so many others before you then your sound is immediately plagued by limitations. Silent Descent seem determined not to succumb to such limitations; choosing to experiment with their sound using an array of instruments while fusing elements from several genres to mold a sound which they can call their own. For an entirely album self-produced, the quality of the recording is excellent. The atmosphere of each song is captured whilst retaining the rawness of a band developing their sound in a genre desperate for diversity. Though Duplicity
is indeed diverse, it is still the basic fundamentals of a metal band that are the most impressive features here. Jaco Oxley and Tom Callahan’s crunching guitar tones combined with a highly competent drumming performance gives the record its backbone.
Kicking things off is the splendidly heavy “Anagram”, and from here on the album is laden with venomous brutality and technicality. A soft intro consisting of keyboards and some intricate guitar work culminates in what this band are all about; pummeling riffs intertwined around euphoric synth beats, anthemic choruses and intricate solos. The interesting vocal techniques of Tom Watling are introduced to us with rapid verses of unique guttural growls and a chorus consisting of clean vocals. The song does well to establish Silent Descent’s signature sound and is an excellent introduction to the 60 minutes of experimental metal that follows. The English septet does however throw in some surprises along the way, such as arguably the highlight of the album, title track “Duplicity”. A beautiful clean vocal melody from Watling, whose true capabilities are clear to see here, is combined with some delicate acoustic guitars, more impressive synth-drenched riffing, soloing and a ferocious chorus. A juggernaut of a track that will undoubtedly go down a storm live.
All elements of this record combine to create something distinctive; remaining melodic and heavy while interesting enough to keep the listener hooked throughout. Duplicity
is a shining light in a genre that can seem endlessly repetitive, an album that may not be accessible to some, but should do well to please the majority of metal fans. If said metal fans are still unconvinced and can’t seem to overlook the fact this band uses trance elements to bolster their sound, one must only look at this young band’s achievements thus far. Having shared stages with the likes of At The Gates, Opeth and Soilwork at the 2008 Bloodstock Open Air festival, and following successive appearences at Download in 2009 and 2010 - Silent Descent have showed their talent isn’t being obscured by a mass of synthesized inputs. Don’t judge this book by its cover as you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. With a new album due later this year, let’s hope it’s another step in the right direction for a band bursting with enthusiasm and ability.