At the suggestion of reviewing an album, and you don’t know anything of the band in question, I, an eternal pessimist in these cases, usually expect the worst.
After some research before listening to the album, I discovered that Silver Talon is a sextet based in Portland, Oregon. It turns out, the group has three guitar players in its ranks. Mn-Uhm! It could be interesting‒. After further investigation, I discovered that they declare themselves fans of such people as Nevermore, King Diamond, or Savatage who are without a doubt some of my favorite bands of all time.
On the one hand, I am excited at the prospect of hearing something really worthwhile. On the other hand, I think that nowadays a traditional American Power Metal band is hardly going to be able to offer me something worth my while. Usually, the Metal that comes from that neck of the woods has almost nothing to do with the above-mentioned groups. And, and when it is, they tend to be productions of poor musical composition quality and with little means to record something half-decent.
And then, I found out that the album is going to be released under the M-Theory Audio label. Warning!!! ‒I say to myself‒ these people are known for releasing only quality material. Suddenly, I see the bottle half full.
Thus, with moderate optimism and great caution, I proceed to listen to the album. Sometimes, few but some, my fatalism does not match with the reality. Will this be one of those rare occasions when I discover a really interesting new group? Keep reading to know the answer to this mystery.
Silver Talon was formed in 2017 from the ashes of the Portland band, Spellcaster (if I didn’t know anything about the former, much less about the latter) where the guitar players Sebastian Silva, of Mexican origin (you will see the relevance of this piece of information if you keep on reading), and Bryce VanHoosen were members.
They started by searching for the perfect singer with whom to build the sound that both guitarists were after. They searched all over the globe, receiving demos from everywhere. In the end, the right vocalist was right under their noses: Wyatt Howell, also from Oregon, and with whom they had already shared the stage in some shows.
With the core group in place, helped by some other musicians who are no longer in the band, they recorded their first EP, Becoming A Demon. The album not only got good reviews but also enjoyed the collaboration of Jeff Loomis, alma mater of the sadly inactive Nevermore, recording a cover of Sanctuary’s Battle Angels. I didn’t know about it, but look it up on YouTube, Spotify, or similar and you will see how Silver Talon put themselves out in its self-released debut EP.
After the good feelings of Becoming A Demon, in 2019 the band started to record Decadence And Decay. Then, a series of unforeseen events came to be. Founding guitarist Sebastian Silva was in Europe on tour with his other band, Unto Others, opening for King Diamond. Right about that time, the «good» Donald Trump decided that to win a few votes, he should toughen US immigration policy. All of the sudden, Sebastian ‒remember that he is of Mexican descent‒ could not return to the United States due to Visa problems. As an emergency measure, the group recruited guitarist Devon Miller to replace Sebastian in some of the concerts they had already booked. The chemistry between Miller and the rest of the band members was so great that once Sebastian‘s visa issues were solved, the band officially offered Miller the position of third guitarist. And this is how the decision of the carrot-colored hair madman ended up transforming Silver Talon into a three-guitarist band in the style of Maiden or Helloween.
The next to join the group were the versatile bassist Walter Hartzell, perfectly capable of giving his bass lines a progressive touch, and the excellent drummer Michael Thompson. Thompson just a few days before starting the recording of the album.
Deceiver, I am shows from the get-go what we are going to hear in the next 48 minutes; quite complex songs, with several guitar solos, rhythm changes, and different sections within the same song. And sure enough, Wyatt Howell‘s voice and singing are completely influenced by Warrel Dane. A strong theme to start the album.
Equally fast is Resistance 2029, albeit with more progressive elements and even a slow, almost acoustic, part in the middle of the song. Please note that here, among the countless guitar solos that the song has, we have one by an illustrious guest; none other than Andy LaRoque, King Diamond‘s right-hand man for a few decades.
Queensrÿche is without a doubt another one of their influences as demonstrated in As The World Burns, a bit more progressive than the Seattle group were. Anecdotally, the recording of the video for this song, dating from 2019, had to be made in Canada due to Sebastian’s problems to reenter his own country. The video was shot on a song’s demo version since there was no final recording of it.
My favorite song on the album right now is Next To The Sun. It starts with Spanish guitars playing, almost Paco de Lucía flamenco style, moving to stronger sequences and an excellent chorus with the guitars reminding me of the Dream Theater of the “Images” era. To me, this song is the best compendium of what Silver Talon is capable of offering on their first full-length album.
Divine Fury has a baroque beginning reminiscent of Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, and other virtuosos of the six strings of the late 80s. Later on, the choirs play an important role, making this part of the song somewhat more commercial than what we have heard so far.
Kill All Kings follows in the same lines with baroque guitar playing supported by the keyboards. It is the most direct track on the album and was recently picked as the third track to be released. You can see the lyric video on YouTube: great guitar solos, one better than one before.
What Will Be takes us to almost the end of the album. It is a slow song and it is impossible not to think of Queensrÿche again, especially because of Howell‘s way of singing, nailing the most introspective Geoff Tate style.
The album closes with Touch The Void, surely the most experimental and difficult song to take in of all of them.
I admit that the last two songs may not be as good as the previous six, but the stakes were high.
Impeccably produced by the band itself and by producer Zack Ohren, a regular in American extreme metal bands and responsible, for example, for the sound of the new Machine Head.
Decadence And Decay is an essential album if you miss bands like Nevermore or the first two Sanctuary albums. Other valid references can be the early Queensrÿche ‒this is obvious‒, but also Jag Panzer or the more current Witherfall.
It is easy to see they spent many months composing the songs: between the visa problems and the pandemic, it’s been almost two years from the moment the album began to take shape until it was finally released.
All the songs overflow with energy, compositional quality, virtuosity, and that somewhat dark touch in the way of singing and the lyrics of the bands mentioned before. The songs do not stick to the typical schemes, which makes the album withstand many listens without becoming boring at any time. It has its progressive touches too, and its guitar riffs that border on Thrash Metal, but without being overwhelming at all. Guitar solos are countless, but the melody always prevails over virtuosity, found in large doses.
If I don’t give an A+ to the album it is because the last two songs kind of lower the level a bit. Though, it surely deserves a B+.
On sale on Friday, May 28th under the M-Theory Audio label in Digipak format, colored vinyl in a limited edition of 300 copies, cassette ‒for the geeky among us‒, and digital download available (included free with the purchase of any of the physical formats).
Needless to say, my copy is on the way 🙂
|Becoming a Demon||EP||2018|
|Deceiver, I Am||Single||2020|
|Decadence and Decay||Full-length||2021|
|Gabriel Franco||Bass (2017-2018)|
|See also: ex-Seventh Gate, ex-Spellcaster, ex-Idle Hands, Unto Others|
|Colin Vranizan||Drums (2017-2019)|
|See also: ex-Spellcaster, ex-Idle Hands, Unto Others|
|Elijah Losch||Drums (2019)|
|See also: Luctum, Mortal Plague, Orator, Power Beast, Storm Forger, Uada, Where Lovers Rot, A Flourishing Scourge (live), ex-Zorakarer, Divitius, ex-Forsaken Eternity, ex-The Devils of Loudun, ex-Wolf’s Calling, ex-Amattr (live), ex-Discordia|