Artist: Silver Bullet
Label: Reaper Entertainment
One of Reaper Entertainment’s newest acquisitions, Silver Bullet, announced their sophomore album’a release for the end of March 2019. Having introduced a new type of theatrical “horror metal” to the world with their debut, Screamworks. Silver Bullet caught our attention when they opened for Blaze Bayley at On the Rocks with a rather memorable show. We also had both Hannes Horma and Nils Nordling participate in our Playlist of My Life interview series, so checking out what comes next was only natural, especially when this album was promised to be a little slice of historical fantasy.
You can check out our interview with Horma and Henri Asikainen (guitar) HERE!
The album starts with a long instrumental intro, which manages to stand on its own with a start and a finish, leaving “She Holds the Greatest Promise” to be an entity of its own. This song demonstrates several familiar power metal sounds, which are clear in the drums and vocals right away. It has clear influence from the early music of bands like Blind Guardian or Symphony X. If I were to guess at the story from what we learned in the interview, I’d say this is the song where Thomas sells his soul (or whatever exactly it is that he does) to Hecate, as “she holds the greatest promise” – she can help him resurrect his dead family.
“Forever Lost” takes a slower tempo with a nearly marching beat. This song is pretty enjoyable on the whole, until you realize that you can sing the words to “Räyh” by Hevisaurus. It has the exact same progression… albeit, one that I love? I choose to enjoy it, personally. “Maiden, Mother and Crone” references the traditional feminine trinity goddess in name (Hecate in this story, I presume), and it starts out with some strange, creepy chanting before entering Metallica-style thrash territory and later into Iron Maiden riffing. They keep it lively though, switching styles and adding chants here and there. Some spoken words enter into the mix as well. Here it seems our main character joins Hecate’s cult perhaps.
A somewhat eastern-Indian heavy metal intro starts “Light the Lanterns (Scavengers of Death).” The eastern influence lives on in the orchestrations and sort of creeps its way to the chorus, which doesn’t rise into the cheesy happy levels; rather the song lurks on and ultimately has a pretty dramatic feel. Perhaps it does repeat a few lines a bit too many times – it’s a minute or so longer than it needs to be, and I’d say the drama at the end of the song is a bit unnecessary. This is a cool song, but it’s a bit more than it needs to be to make its point.
“The Witches Hammer” sounds like it could be an old Iced Earth song, and “The Chalice and the Blade” had a pretty nice speedy guitar solo in this track, with some pure Helloween riffing to follow. There’s a somewhat Aztec feel to the track at certain points as well that’s rather nice. This track also includes a female vocalist, though I wasn’t able to find her name.
“Burn the Witch” takes us to the witch burnings, obviously. There’s a riff here that I’m sure I recognize from Iron Maiden, as well as a progression that sounds like “I Walk Forever” by Tarot. However, they’re mixed together fairly well and while it did strike our attention, it didn’t bother the song too much on the whole.
Perhaps my favorite track was “Eternity in Hell”, but there’s an obvious reason for this. They relentlessly tease the listener with a marching beat, just a bit here and there, and it works so well. Then album then appears to head towards a climax with the high-energy “Battle of Shadows.” It’s a more balanced track than many of the others, and that means in some ways it’s more simple, but I think that’s good.
“Lady of Lies” also manages to maintain pretty tight composition, resulting in another well-balanced song that works well in its place as the final track. The story concludes with the sad truth: Hecate was the lady of lies, and she should not have been trusted.
The music is really over-the-top, but if you consider it as a form of storytelling, it’s really pretty good. If I’m to compare to Battle Beast where my opinion was that their music wasn’t complex enough, my thoughts are nearly the opposite here; Silver Bullet’s music is almost too complex. If they fine-tune the sound a bit, I can see this band rising fast.
What this album feels like is a great showcase of talent. The band is throwing all their skill cards on the table, but the compositions need refinement. There are a lot of good things going on… even too many good things happening at once, at a lot of points. These guys are clearly masters of their instruments, so I think in order for them to make the jump from good to great, all they really need is more work perfecting their compositions. Kick a couple elements up a notch, pull a few things back a tad, and these guys will be making some pure magic.
Rating: 8/10, 4 stars
1. 1590 Edinburgh (intro)
2. She Holds the Greatest Promise
3. Forever Lost
4. Maiden, Mother and Crone
5. Light the Lanterns (Scavengers of Death)
6. The Witches Hammer
7. The Chalice and the Blade
8. Burn the Witch
9. Purgatorius Ignus (intro)
10. Eternity in Hell
11. Battle of Shadows
12. Lady of Lies
Photo: Marco Manzi