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Gods of Silence – Neverland

Gods of Silence
Neverland
by James Peterson at 16 October 2017, 6:24 AM

Switzerland isn’t a country from which I’ve encountered too many metal bands, but the ones I have are all good, and also lean on the extreme metal side of things: SYBREED, CATARACT, VIRVUM, etc. GODS OF SILENCE, however, are a much more traditional heavy metal band from this part of Europe, yet they still have a very modern and fresh feel with their debut “Neverland.” Contributing to this freshness are some progressive elements present on this album, with what the band are doing with some of their rhythmical structures in key sections on the album, and draw effectively in others from classical music conventions from approximately 150 years ago. There’s some really strong songwriting on this thing that shows the Swiss clearly have a great range of quality metal to offer, and is very worth diving into.

The very opening of the record is just a bit rough, though, with very unrealistic string samples being played. I say “just a bit” though because the melodies are still really strong from the get-go, flowing nicely into the first metal track “Army of Liars.” When the rest of the instruments kick in you can immediately get a sense of how pristine the sound engineering is here as well. The guitars, vocals and drums all have great timbres, and together with the keys it’s all mixed very clearly and powerfully. Despite the bass being a bit buried, it’s still audible and takes more of a front seat when it’s effective for it to. The presence of all the other instruments playing masking the keys a bit also makes them not only tolerable, but a pleasant textural layer in the sound.

This song also really sets the mood for the rest of the album well. The bulk of the record is mid-tempo, conventionally structured, melodic and catchy tunes with the occasional heavier moment for contrast (such as the second riff of the album which is probably the closest you’ll get to any thrash metal on here). This second track on the record is one of the good ones here for the most part, but admittedly the chorus on this one did nothing for me and the police/siren samples are downright goofy.

The next five songs in a row on this thing are nothing short of masterful for this style though. In contrast to the previous chorus, “Against the Wall” has a very driving and evocative vocal melody in its chorus and throughout other sections. And it’s here that I can start to hear some of that progressive stuff that harkens back to some earlier classical music in the way the harmonies progress here and in the following tracks. Again, it’s progressive but not overly complex: the musical ideas are played here with an inflection that reminds of bands like SERENITY, HALCYON WAY, or some slower STRATOVARIUS songs.

The title track is another triumph. Starting with a key line that gives you one groove but when it drops out and the syncopated guitars come in, then the keys come back in over them… it’s not really polyrhythmic but what they’re able to milk out of 4/4 here and the harmonies happening on top is undeniably progressive and astounding. The vocals and keyboard leads on this one also remind of SYMPHONY X in the best way. There’s only one criticism I can levy on this one: a couple of the transitions feel a bit forced.

“Full Moon” is like the opening instrumental of the band’s namesake, meaning that the lacking realism of the string sound is more noticeable, but again the melodies are incredibly strong on this one so it doesn’t deter at all. The song “The Phoenix” is noteworthy because the dynamics of this album occur simultaneously here. The keyboard layers keep things proggy with some gorgeous unique chords while the metal instruments are playing some of the heaviest parts of the album. The vocals offer the best of both here: providing great melody while still being gruff and aggressive.

One of my favorite things about the whole album kicks off “Demons,” and it’s the clean guitar tone. It’s very glistening and reverberant. It’s downright beautiful… which can also be said of the hook to this song because it’s probably the best one on the whole album. Unfortunately, it is past this point that I found the album took a bit of a nose-dive in the strength of the songs. The album reveals itself as being more of the “front-loaded” type because the remaining songs don’t reach the mastery of the preceding five. “Wonderful Years” and “Alone” rely more on generic power metal tropes with a heightened focus on major key motifs, with the latter song having un-engaging grooves for the mid-tempo feel of the album. Neither song is particularly moving, especially with where they’re placed on the track-list, yet it must be said both songs oddly enough have amazing licks before their respective solo sections.

Overall though, “Neverland” is a really good album, despite a few pitfalls of more run-of-the-mill moments and subject matter for the style they play. It’s still worth your time: tracks 3-7 are ridiculously solid and the opening and closing to the record are also quite good. I’d especially recommend this if you’re a fan of SERENITY, ANTHRIEL, or SYMPHONY X. The band’s performance is super tight and tasteful, with vibrato present in the vocals and guitars, and great soloing too from those guitars and keys. Maybe more of us keep a closer eye out for great metal coming out of Switzerland moving forward, and definitely for what’s next from these gentlemen.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Gods of Silence (intro)
2. Army of Liars
3. Against the Wall
4. Neverland
5. Full Moon
6. The Phoenix
7. Demons
8. Wonderful Years
9. Alone
10. You Mean Nothing More to Me
11. All My Life
Lineup:
Gilberto Meléndez – Vocals
Sammy Lasagni – Guitars
Bruno Berger – Keyboards
Daniel Pfister – Bass
Philipp Eichenberger – Drums
Record Label: Rock of Angels Records
     


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Edited 30 November 2021
 

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