Silent Line - Shattered Shores - (7/10)
Published on November 10, 2015
Silent Line are yet another fresh name in the growing cadre of “epic” melodic death metal bands, a style that almost appears to have been born out of the collective frustration due to Wintersun’s fallacious antics and the subsequent need for more bands in this style. That said, these guys along with the likes of Nothgard and Bloodred Hourglass refuse to go all in concerning the symphonic constituent. What the listener is on the receiving end of is an affable cross pollination of Gothenburg melodic aptitude and more modern, chunky brickwork rhythm patterns. Despite the cover art espousing something in the vein of Ensiferum or Cadacross, Silent Line are in practice only halfway to the likes of Frosttide and the aforementioned Finnish folk metal mainstay. While symphonic at times, Shattered Shores feels more like Swedish melodeath accentuated by the synths as opposed to driven wholly by them.
So with the keyboards tethered to the toothy armament of the guitars, balance is never really an active concern here, although some of Silent Line’s attempts at more protracted and engaging compositions leave a lot to be desired at times. These deficiencies are amplified by proxy due to how convincingly they pull off the shorter numbers. The obvious single choice and most compact tune I am talking about here is without a doubt “Black and White,” which is a thrilling three minute scorcher that sounds almost like one part In Flames, one part later Skyfire. The synths are harmonious and extremely upbeat, thrillingly fused with the rumbling gusto of the power chords and focused lead construction. That said, the band is never able to quite replicate this level of genius, although to be fair they don’t necessary try either. Other successes include more measured groovy countenance of “Starfall” and the pseudo-orchestral opener “Frost of the Night,” which is somewhat misleading but engaging all the same.
To address the keyboards in detail, I really appreciate how Silent Line use more synthetic sounds as opposed to straight-up orchestral padding. The choral interjections are always welcome in moderation, and add class and punctuality to “Into the Chasm,” an album highlight for these reasons alone. But while the leads exude some measure of class, some of the note progressions can’t help but feel a modicum rote at times. It is almost as if the songwriting is lacking in verisimilitude, although Silent Line do a fair job at keeping the tunes moving forward by cramming in a high number of riffs per song. The clean vocals are also somewhat suspect, executed with reasonable chops but without much discernible flare and/or style. Take “Embrace the End” for example. The vocalist just sounds bored, and this languid aesthetic is carried over onto the listener. Fair attempt at adding some variety, but put some more thought into it next time, guys.
In any event, Shattered Shores is rife with bristling In Flames-esque leads and memorable keyboard swaddling. There are more than a handful of great songs here, although a large constituent of the album is dragged down by the two-part “Shattered Shores” suite, which while exhibiting some nice symphonic padding, doesn’t really warrant its existence beyond the ephemeral. When I listen to these guys I think of more obscure acts like Starforge and Æther Realm along with the more obvious influences. Shattered Shores is a solid listen for melodic death fans who don’t mind a peppering of epic inveigling without the entire experience devolving into bombastic slush like Wintersun’s Time. Good stuff.