While their name is undoubtedly new to many, it would be incorrect to think of The Silent Rage as newcomers. After all, the Greek quintet formed back in 2006. Despite having recorded a couple of EPs over the years, The Silent Rage never released a proper full-length album until now with ‘The Deadliest Scourge,’ via an edition of 500 sealed digipak copies on Thessaloniki’s Alone Records. (There’s also a standard jewel case edition.) Unlike many of their countrymen, The Silent Rage do not appear driven by an obsession for ‘80s U.S. metal. To the contrary, they refer to themselves as “modern power metal.”
The tag is an accurate one. After all, the Silent Rage specialize in a kind of bludgeoning, dark, crunchy but still highly melodic brand of power metal steeped on the German school. Reference points that come to mind while listening to ‘The Deadliest Scourge’ are latter-day Rage, Mystic Prophecy, Brainstorm, and maybe a pinch of Iced Earth. The riffs are dark and pounding, tempos are often on the quick side of mid-tempo, with the rhythm section locked-in and powerful, and the vocals tuneful but still gritty in that R.D. Liapakis kind of way. In addition to the clean lead vocals, singer Steve Venardo and guitarist Nikos Siglidis also contribute growling vocals from time to time. Although I’ve read reviews that have panned this arrangement and I have no love for harsh vocals, I think the diversity works fine here because the growlies are not deployed to excess. The overwhelming majority of the vocals are cleans from Venardo, with the growls only cropping up from time to time as an accent (though their usage is a bit more prominent on a couple songs, such as “Proselytize the Masses”). I don’t find the harsh vox to be a distraction or an annoyance, but your mileage may vary. Production is massive and crushing, sounding more like a Nuclear Blast-caliber release than a low-budget independent endeavor. Keyboards, orchestras, samples and other assorted B.S. are nonexistent. And the lead guitarwork of axemen Siglidis and Kostas Krikos is impressive, technical and flashy but always serving the song perfectly.
A big risk with these heavy-duty, riff-laden, lengthy (13 songs, 56 minutes) affairs is that listener fatigue may set in as your ears grow weary of the constant bludgeoning. I am happy to report that no such phenomenon occurs with ‘The Deadliest Scourge,’ even though the material is uniformly pummeling (with the exception of the gentle ballad, “Shadow Spirit,” checking in at track 12). The reason is that the songs simply work very well, the combination of Venardo’s emotive, expressive voice and the searing, tasteful guitars of Siglidis and Krikos coming together in memorable songs. I was singing along with the likes of “Stormwarrior,” “Thoughts Collapsed,” and “Leading the Legions” from the very listen, and the title track features a chorus so nifty that it brings to mind the glory days of Solitude Aeturnus, albeit with a speedier, more modern presentation. Even the bonus track, “Inner Scars,” successfully merges heaviness and melody, tying the whole package together with yet another catchy hookline. There are only a couple of minor missteps. For example, things get a little too modern for their own good on “Sin of a Pilgrim,” featuring a guest vocal appearance from Apollo Papathanasio (ex-Firewind) and veering a bit too close to heavied-up modern rock radio territory for my tastes.
Overall, though, ‘The Deadliest Scourge’ is a breath of fresh air. Not only is it well written, well performed and well produced, but it also delves deep into a style that is all too often overlooked in today’s retro-oriented traditional metal scene (which I dearly love, by the way). Albums like ‘The Deadliest Scourge’ and the latest Rage opus, ‘The Devil Strikes Again,’ give me hope that this kind of heavy-duty Germanic modern power metal can flourish in today’s fragmented metal scene. The Silent Rage could be just the band to keep it alive, or even take it to the next level.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~