Age of Silence – Acceleration – 2.5/5
I wanted to like this album, I really did. I was so astounded by it's discovery; a super-group of talented Norwegians coming together to produce a progressive metal album that could only be epic by virtue of the talent on display; the drummer from Arcturus and Mayhem, the bassist, keyboardist and guitarist from Winds as well as Borknagar's (backing) vocalist, how could it go wrong? In a sense it seems like a side-project of Winds, but really it's a different entity altogether; no neo-classical power is to be found here, it lies squarely in that experimental side of progressive metal. In fact, if I had to make any comparison it reminds me of Leprous or Ihsahn's work, not because they sound similar but because the sound so radically different from what you'd ordinarily expect.
Sadly, it all too quickly begins to fall apart. The guitars feel rather generic and quite heavy on the use of chords, which whilst not bad in itself, often finds itself lacking in riffs which would really have gone into helping the piece into becoming more memorable. The keys vary between barely being noticeable in the background and displaying odd flourishes of being unignorably dominant in the forefront, supplying piano passages or energetic synth solo's almost always completely at odds with the rather robotic lack of emotion. The vocals send things from bad to worse with a drawl that rarely allows him to change pitch, and the lack of energy throughout the whole piece just makes the drums sound as though they really can't be bothered to try, even though at the start of the album it's clear he's doing his best to inject a small amount of personality into the proceedings. The tracks are barely distinguishable from one another (only the gentle “90° Angles” making any notable change to the pace) and nothing ever really seems to fit together coherently, but of course, this could all be the point of the music.
If usually we strive for an emotional response, to weave a story or explore a concept, their intention might well be to sound as robotic and emotionless as they possibly could. It would certainly fit with the theme they're striving for, the notion that we are becoming too heavily reliant on machines and technology and losing our humanity as a result. In that case they succeeded in doing that remarkably well and I would have no option but to concede and give them top marks for it, but a concept relying on being as boring as possible doesn't exactly make for interesting music. Quite the opposite in fact. If I didn't know any better I'd have thought they were a group of teens trying to form their first high school band, it's that bland and unenthusiastically performed. Only two of the musicians seem capable here and it would have been better if it were just the drummer and keyboards left alone, written as an instrumental piece. I apologise for bringing it all up in the first place, I'm sure this is one chapter all the musicians involved would rather pretend never actually happened.
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Tuesday, 31 July 2012