Australia’s Silent Knight are one of the great undiscovered treasures of the underground. Their ‘Conquer& Command’ album was one of the top power metal releases of 2015. At the time of its release, I described the album as follows: “Silent Knight channel the very best of Iced Earth, German power metal masters like Gamma Ray and Helloween at their fastest and heaviest, and the Australian sounds of Lord / Dungeon / Taberah / Darker Half.” I stand by those words 100% today. Fans of the style who haven’t heard it owe it to themselves to track down a copy of ‘Conquer & Command’ posthaste. But Silent Knight have not been resting on their laurels waiting for something to happen. To the contrary, they celebrated the arrival of 2017 by releasing a new seven-song EP entitled ‘The Angel Reborn’ in a limited pressing of 100 CDs (I ended up scoring #41/100). The physical copies sold out in the blink of an eye during the presale phase; however, I understand that the EP remains available via digital platforms.
This EP has a little bit of everything. It starts off with a remake of “When the Fallen Angel Flies” from the band’s 2013 debut album ‘Masterplan,’ then moves on to an acoustic rendition of “The Ravens Return” from the most recent album. Four high-quality live tracks (including several standout cuts from ‘Conquer & Command’) follow. And the EP concludes with an ambitious take on Megadeth’s “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due.” With ‘The Angel Reborn’ clocking in at a robust at 38 minutes, Silent Knight did not skimp on content. The live recordings do not sound dramatically different from their studio counterparts, but it is fun to hear raw, powerful renditions of favorites like “Empty Threat” and “Power Metal Supreme” in a live setting, where they gain an extra kick of energy, urgency and ferocity. The acoustic reworking of “The Ravens Return” dramatically alters the vibe of this speedy beast of a song, but it is a successful experiment. Not many artists have the balls to attempt to cover “Holy Wars,” but Silent Knight pull it off well. Their version remains faithful to the original, but adds just enough of Silent Knight’s flavor and personality to give the track a power metal edge. It’s definitely a cool cover, featuring a fine Dave Mustaine impression by vocalist Jesse Onur Oz and absolutely blistering performances from guitarists Stu McGill and Cameron Nicholas. Nice work, lads. As for the remake of “When the Fallen Angel Flies,” it was always a great song, but this version improves on its predecessor in all areas, particularly in the vocal department, as Jesse did not sing on that album originally.
These kinds of odds’n’sods, gap-filling releases are rarely essential, and I suppose that’s true of ‘The Angel Reborn’ as well. But if you’ve never heard Silent Knight before (and shame on you if you haven’t), then this EP is an outstanding introduction to what the band is all about. If you’re a die-hard Silent Knight fan, then the EP is a must because of the cool rarities and alternate versions on display. The important point to remember is that ‘The Angel Reborn’ is merely a table-setter for some major developments in the offing for the Silent Knight camp, including a full-blown rerecording/rerelease of the entire ‘Masterplan’ album as well as the band’s European live debut this summer, including a gig at Germany’s legendary Headbangers Open Air Festival in July. Conquer and command, indeed.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~