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Silent Opera - Reflections

Silent Opera – CD Review

Silent Opera



CD Info
Massacre Records
9 Tracks
English Lyrics

Progressive melodic death metal this well and truly is, but don’t expect to do that much partying and moshing when you play this album. Silent Opera will grip your mind so tightly with their melancholy masterpiece that you may not be able to move more than your little finger. This is music that completely took me over and shut out everything else from my awareness. Reflections is totally compelling and it held me captive from start to end.

I had a fair idea of what to expect from the album. I’ve had Silent Opera’s only other recording, their Act One EP, for a while. It was released four years ago. Since then there has been only one change in the line-up, with Laura Gimello of Opus Doria replacing Frank Stoker on keyboards. What I expected was a much bigger dose of brilliance, and that’s what the band delivers in nearly an hour of exceptional music.

It’s impossible to single out any individual element that makes this such a satisfying album. It is an extravaganza of perfectly matched vocals performed to a succession of driving riffs, atmospheric keyboards in strings or classic piano mode, epic melody lines, mournful and complex lyrics and an advanced one-hour lesson in how to make metal drumming rich and varied.

Silent Opera formed in Bayonne, France, in 2007. There are six band members. Laure Laborde, as sweet a soprano as you’d want to hear, provides the clean female vocals. Steven Schriver complements her style with his harsh but greatly effective dark vocals. Romain Larregain on guitar is as deft at solos as he is at adding energy with his riffs. Jon Erviti is the magician behind the drum kit and Olivier Sentenac is the type of bass player who doesn’t push himself to the fore, but whose inclusion in the rhythm section is a huge plus for the band.

Then there’s Laura on the keyboards. I love the way she sets up her Roland as a grand piano. An alternative title for the album could be “Claude Debussy meets Death”. The keyboard adds many of the best hooks. The piano sound adds great layers and texture to metal.

To explore the tracks more deeply:

1. Beyond The Gate Of A Deep Slumber is a cinematic prelude. The synthesized strings pass along the melody to crashing guitar chords before yielding to the effect of a solo violin with plucked strings and haunting, ethereal vocals.

2. Nightmare Circus ushers in the first taste of real death riffs. Laura launches into a serenade while Steve’s growls interrogate her and deliver their own comments. The male vocals, the disturbing, odd-paced drumming and the querulous guitar emotionally contradict the soprano. Both voices seek escape from their nightmare. They are locked in by an instrumental passage perfectly illuminated by the echoing piano. Debussy would have approved of the atmospheric build-up. Tight, rapid drumming heightens the tension before the paired vocals return to the starting refrain.

3. Dorian opens with a conspiratorial style of vocal dialogue, with Steve’s whispered voice gaining in amplitude while Laura’s female voice simultaneously gains prominence. The keyboards become a glockenspiel, enhancing the dramatic background in the mind. Romain reinforces the melody with sustained riffs followed by an arpeggio-driven solo.

4. The Great Chessboard unfolds like a game of chess, one musical move generating a responsive counter-mood. Unlike the board game, this chess doesn’t offer the players or the listener a decisive way out of the pain. There are no quick gambits to make good the escape.

5. Fight Or Drift paints a picture in rhythm and percussion, a picture of something ill-defined but ominous. Repeated short bursts from the strings create the sense that something is imminent and not necessarily welcome. This song features some of the hardest and most powerful riffs.

6. Dawn Of The Fool is the catchiest song on the album. A melancholy quick-step on the piano lures you into a track that works its way down a path of increasing sadness.

7. Chronicles Of An Infinite Sadness starts like pure blues with only the piano backing the harmonized vocals for most of the song.

8. Inner Museum puts on display a graceful vocal intro of sheer beauty. My throat tightened from the unrestrained emotion of the song. A thrashy riff and drums, then Steve’s guttural vocals, brought – er – manly release from wondering if I was about to start crying because of the wonder of it all. This is my pick of the tracks on Reflections. Just when it seems that “Inner Museum” couldn’t become any better, another amazing guitar solo sweeps you away. By the end of this song my mood had become euphoric.

9. Sailor, Siren And Bitterness brings the closure I needed after an adventure as gripping and intense as the one I shared with Silent Opera. The word “closure” doesn’t seem over-used in the context of this music. It doesn’t mean there’s a happy resolution to the psychologial stress that forms so much of the theme of the album. It does, however, bring a hint of some resolution, however bitter that may be. The bass, which has been considerably in the background for much of the album, briefly takes center stage towards the end as the band packs all of its might and inventiveness into a grand finale.

Overall, this is an album that plucks at your innermost emotions. I needed to sit quietly for a few minutes and gather myself afterwards. Music that stimulates the flow of a dozen different enzymes must be good. Reflections is way beyond good, it’s quite splendid.

Rating: 8.7 / 10

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