Label : Vanity Music Group
Release Date : September 25th, 2012
When it comes to heavy metal, Colorado is known for its heavy hitting, extreme acts such as Cephalic Carnage and Satan’s Host. Dig a little deeper however, and you’ll find a little gem in the form of The Great Bear – the third full length album by Silencer. Not only does this album feature massive waves of hard-hitting sonic debauchery, it also integrates conceptual sci-fi geekery. The results of this experiment suggest that these seasoned thrashers have undoubtedly settled into their own niche.
Silencer has been around since about 1997. The end of the grunge era. We were all listening to the various metal-core spinoffs back when these guys got started. Not to be confused with the Swedish black metal band of the same name, this quartet has cut their teeth on touring, fighting for acceptance by record labels, and struggling to define their own sound. The band has been through several line up changes over the years, but the players on this particular album include founder and vocalist/guitarist Keith Spargo, guitarist Dan Lynn, bassist Pat Russell, and drummer Alex Simpson. The Great Bear is the first fully conceptual album released by the band. The album touches on topics of the competition between the Soviet Union and the USA during the Cold War back in the 1960s, culminating with the USA landing on the moon. But what if, the album muses, the USSR did something grander? Told from the viewpoint of a Russian test pilot turned cosmonaut in the USSR, the journey begins….
The Great Bear starts off with a dervish, a devilishly fast paced number appropriately named “I Am Thunder”. This song, and perhaps much of the album is reminiscent of a heavier version of something that would perhaps be found on a Mastodon record. Guitar whirls and flourishes run circles around Spargo’s slightly old school sounding Thomas Warrior style vocals. Definitely a great way to get off to a head banging start.
The journey continues with “Sacred War” – one of the shorter tracks on the album. Beginning with a dirge style marching riff, the song slowly evolves into acoustical noodlings that fade out into silence, as if to set the tone for the story line. We segue into “1969” at this point, another minute long track that also seems to be setting up the storyline for the album. To find out exactly what is going on here though, you will need a translator, as the spoken word here is all in Russian.
The “Great Bear” finally shows its hide in the title track. The band’s post-grunge roots, and Spargo and Lynn’s heavy riffing are key players in this sonic act. Laced with atmosphere and brooding darkness, this particular song has definitely earned and is worthy of its title.
Perhaps the highlight of an already great album comes in the form of the two-part “Star City”. As the mood and feel of the album is well set at this point, Part 1 is mid-tempo, and grinds along energetically, via almost psychedelic guitar licks into part 2, which is instrumental and slightly more mellow.
The Great Bear succeeds in doing what it set out to do – present an applaudably original story line, along with a heavy album that’s chocked full of grinding riffs, no-nonsense old school style vocals, and blistering, yet crunchy guitar work. Fans of Mastodon, Orange Goblin, and even some old school black metallers that enjoy the works of Venom and Celtic Frost may enjoy this album. Contrary to their name, Silencer is not a group that will be silenced any time soon. See you in space!
Rating : 8.2/10 Highlights : Star City, I Am Thunder