Review Summary: A hidden jewel from Germany...
German metal scene has always been the milestone of European power metal movement. No doubt about that. Bands such as Rage, Running Wild, and Helloween and…. Oh God they are so many! The sound of this scene is also very familiar among metal fans, even of those who are not very keen on power metal in general. So far so good, no surprises, right"
Not exactly. Cause at the early nineties, when all these big names started to fade away, Rough Silk came, saw but…..didn’t conquer. And one can’t help but wonder how these guys from Hannover managed to stay in the shadows. They are definetely one of the most underrated group of the nineties. But better let’s take things from the beginning.
Rough Silk’s music can be divided into two different eras, the one with Jan Barnett in the vocals, and the later, with Thomas Rudolphy taking Jan’s place. Circle of Pain is by far the band’s greatest work with Jan Barnett as the leading vocalist.
Circle of Pain presents a unique amalgam of sounds and influences raging from classic rock and Queen style elegies, to thrash metal riffs and gospel queers. The final result is breathtaking and exceptional among other power metal bands. And although coming from Germany , Rough Silk’s sound is influenced also by the respective American scene and bands as Savatage and Fates Warning. Still they create an absolutely personal sound.
Two elements make this album stand out:
First and foremost is Jan Barnett’s voice. This guy has a clean and expressive voice, sometimes aggressive, sometimes emotional, paints the every song with sentiments and passion. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest vocals ever to come out of the European metal scene and it makes me wonder how he managed to remain so largely unknown!
The next most important element is... the entire music flow of the album, characterized by pluralism, exceptional orchestral work and inspiration, will not tire the listener (as the majority of power metal albums) but will make him asking for more!
The album starts with a song called The End (!), which defines from the very first note the album’s elegiac tempo, with pianos, orchestral vocals and background synths along with heavy thrasy guitars orchestrated magnificently. Insania that comes next, starts calmly with a piano and in moments turns thrasy and aggressive. My personal favorite is the third song that gave its name to the album, an almost 10 minutes breathtaking epic moment that combines the best elements that define this bands musical journey. Some songs that follow, such as When Skunk's Got You Down or Les Chiens De La Guerre are not really living up to the previous standards but the album revives instantly with two more highlights, the optimistic For Once in My Life and the dark …And The Wind Screams in Anger. The album ends with a neutral instrumental called (what else!) The Beginning.
What Rough Silk achieved with this album is not only unique in German metal scene but also in their own discography. They never managed to equal or even come close to the quality of The Circle of Pain, although there last really good work, the next album Mephisto was more than a descent one
And still today, Circle of Pain sounds fresh, powerful and unfortunately…hidden!