Review Summary: Some unknown Chicago thrasher brings members of bands like Death, Testament, Dream Theater, Anthrax and Dethklok together to play on his album. You had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.
Sylencer is an unusual phenomenon. Two pals from Chicago decided to form a band and one day happen to meet Gene Hoglan and somehow get him to perform drums on a song (the hilarious "Get It Up"). Inspired by this the unknown duo recruit Kevin "plays in every band ever" Talley and Larry Tarnowski as session members and bring in dozens of other established guests (list at the bottom of review) to jam on their self released début, "A Lethal Dose of Truth". Now history tells us that in projects where there is virtually a rotating lineup on each song, things are bound to go wrong. But this is a surprisingly consistent (not to mention long, with 16 tracks ranging from 3 to 10 minutes long) record and each contributing musician fits the sound perfectly.
The predominant style present on this album is straight up thrash and frontman Markus Johansson has just the right vocal style to fit this music. The music, primarily written by Johansson and bassist Johnny Rox, is very well performed by the core lineup, particularly on tracks like "Day By Day" and "88 Reasons To Hate". Larry Tarnowski's guitar solos and general performances (particularly on "Day By Day" and "Dead To Your World") are spectacular but often get outshined by the guests, such as the pure shred that occurs on "88 Reasons To Hate", performed by Metal Mike Chlasciak, and Emil Werstler on "Shock And Awe". The one instrumental track "Scream At The Stars" features Michael Angelo Bastio and Roland Grapow and the two combine perfectly in this power metal influenced track, bouncing solos off each other seamlessly. The best moment of original material is in the 10 minute long "Rise and Die", with Rob Caggiano and Christian Lasegue firing out solos and Jordan Rudess providing keys. It's the most progressive track and is a real treat to listen to.
The absolute highlight of this album, though, is the closer, the cover of Van Halen's "Get Up", rewritten by Chris "The Heathen" Valagao to be "Get It Up". His vocals are all over the place and at one point in the song stops to ponder whether the song is about his penis, while Gene Hoglan is Gene Hoglan and Brendon Small fires out a brilliant solo. The rest of the second half of the album is enjoyable enough to listen to, single "Acquiesce" (featuring Steve Smyth and Sean Reinert) being one of the stronger tracks and a respectable interpretation of the Rammstein hit "Asche zu Asche" thrown into the mix. There aren't really any weak tracks on this album, though, and is well worth checking out, not just for the names present but for the sheer quality of the music. Markus Johansson has stated that he won't be bringing in as many guests (if any) on the next record to avoid becoming too gimmicky, so it'll be interesting to see what Sylencer can come up with on their next album.
Markus Johansson - vocals, guitars
Johnny Rox - bass guitar
Kevin Talley - drums (tracks 1-13 - session at time of recording, now full time)
Larry Tarnowski - lead guitar (Tracks 1-3, 5-12)
Metal Mike Chlasciak - lead guitar (Track 3)
Emil Werstler - lead guitar (Track 4)
Michael Angelo Batio - lead guitar (Track 7)
Roland Grapow - lead guitar (Track 7)
Steve DiGiorgio - bass guitar (Track 8)
Rob Caggiano - lead guitar (Track 10)
Jordan Rudess - keyboards (Track 10)
Christian Lasegue - lead guitar (Track 10)
Andy LaRocque - lead guitar (Track 11)
Marco Minnemann - drums (Track 14)
Steve Smyth - lead guitar (Track 15)
Sean Reinert - drums (Track 15)
Chris 'The Heathen' Valagao - lead vocals (Track 16)
Brendon Small - lead guitar (Track 16)
Gene Hoglan - drums (Track 16)