Enchained Souls – Silentium Aeturnus – 4/5
So, the final review in this special, and the second full length release of this Gothic Argentinean band that has succeeded in evolving their sound, and producing an album of superior quality to their last. In fact, most of the issues I had with their previous work have been corrected here – If their aim was to make me happy, they’ve done a damn good job.
Now, it must be said that after the impressive Wagner-esque powerful and aggressive intro has finished setting the tone for the track to come, ‘Sicario Sideral,’ possibly one of the strongest tracks on the album, we get a large helping of their softer, emotional and simplistic style of music similar to their last effort, it began to worry me. Would once again the guitars be left in the background? Would the growls vanish? This would not be the case, though perhaps the ‘ballad’ tracks could have been interspersed throughout the album more effectively, creating a break in tone, and allowing for greater variation as the album progresses.
The enchanting voice of Villamayor makes itself present once again, with plenty of variation in pitch, varying between a softer more traditional style of clean female singing, and the more unique operatic (that are actually operatic I might add) vocals though I felt lacking in the emotion prevalent in certain area’s of their debut, are nonetheless done in an intriguing manner. Twinned with this style are more aggressive growls, staying largely within the mid-range with a sort of sinister twist to them. Not overtly harsh compared to many, it works magnificently at rapidly changing the dynamic and tone of the album, for example ‘Eternal Bloody Romance’ is made interesting to listen to each time with a combination of deep growls, high pitched growls and melodic singing, all overlapping each other, giving an argumentative atmosphere, almost like a battle between good and evil.
And the atmosphere, the gothic aspect to their sound isn’t simply tacked on like an afterthought. Utilising acoustic guitars, organs, violins and keyboards, they produce simplistic tones that produce a thick atmosphere with which to work in. From the organs in ‘Requiem II’ to the use of acoustic guitar in ‘Nostalgias,’ this is a band that still has plenty of ideas at their disposal, and the means to effectively use them.
The guitars in particular take focus at times, with upbeat aggressive riffs more prevalent than before, creating an interesting layer beyond the vocals whilst not detracting from the atmosphere. The solos are often quick, melodically ‘shredded’ in style, which I can’t help but be reminded of Romeo (Symphony X) in both style and flaws. Sometimes it feels unnecessary, overly quick when the song calls for something more emotional, (‘Nostalgias’ for example) and it simply feels out of place.
This album has seen this band develop their sound, and improve in every way, on every track. Furthermore, there is little that seems to have been done particularly badly, it all feels like it needs something of a polish. A greater punch in the guitars at times, a fill-in here or there, more emotional solos, greater presence from the keyboards, those small things that truly turn a good album into one of the greats. This is a band that may have been strongly influenced by the nightwish clones I was intending to avoid, but they’ve gone beyond that. They haven’t mimicked a style, they’ve taken it on board and made it their own, and with the addition of fresh idea’s have resulted in this refreshing breath of fresh air in a genre where this is in short supply.
Highlights: Sicario Sideral, Requiem Part I and II, De Misantropia e Hipocresia
By T. Bawden