Don’t look at me. I feel nothing but shame for the treason I am about to unveil, for though my words are true, they are most certainly not trve. I’ve been banging my head to power metal all week… and I liked it. It started with this band, Gods of Silence, and their debut assault Neverland. I kind of don’t want to talk about it, but let’s get this out of the way, I have about 666 showers to take if I ever want to be able to face myself in the mirror again1.
Known as KIRK in a previous incarnation, these bastards from Basel’s fairly efficient website labels them with the mostly useless tag of ‘melodic metal,’ but those familiar with the band’s past could (and should) have warned me: Gods of Silence are a power metal band, damn it. The namesake intro establishes this right out the gate, and vocalist Gilbi Meléndez and keyboardist Bruno Berger refuse to let that be forgotten for the remaining 10 tracks. Indeed, the Gods bestow blessings of cheese and digitized ivory on every song, with keyboards crafting symphonic landscapes reminiscent of Epica and Dragonforce, while Meléndez soars over everything, carried on dairy wings by the spirits of Geoff Tate and Warrel Dane. Ever wonder what it would sound like if Steel Panther’s Satchel sang from his childhood imagination instead of from his teenage boner? Me neither, but it’s a fair comparison, and it honestly isn’t terrible. The heavy burden of keeping things ‘metal enough’ falls on axe-slinger Sammy Lasagni and skin-pounder Philipp Eichenberger, and they clearly do not take this task lightly. Instead of turning Neverland into a LARP-themed wankfest, Lasagni keeps things moving with chugging rhythms and occasional melodic flair, often coupling nicely with the keyboard atmospheres from Hate Crew-era Children of Bodom. Eichenberger never steals the show, but his coordinated restraint and pacing keep the 51 minutes of magic and muenster moving and manageable.
I’m a man of wealth and taste, you see, and while I did not appreciate being dragged into a world known for its cheap cheese, I cannot profess to be anything other than pleased with this place known as Neverland. As I wander through this symphonic kingdom, I can try to hide a smile, but I simply cannot help but bang my head along to the national anthems of this deceptive world. Looking beyond such silliness as the lycanthroparmesan “Full Moon” or the made-for-anime anthem “Wonderful Years,” listeners will recognize they’re dealing with some genuinely talented musicians. Furthermore, while Neverland is ridiculously power metal at times (the ‘Ashes! To ashes!’ line in “The Phoenix” is forever burned into my nightmares), the music itself is always solid. “Against the Wall” alone will likely instill cognitive dissonance among the brutal and trve crowd as they fight to keep their necks still and their fists out of the air. It’s power metal, all right (ASHES! TO ASHES!!!) but it’s still metal metal, alright? We know you’re too kvlt for this, but you’ll be fine, just close your eyes and think of Dio.
What’s not particularly fine, though, is the sonic absence of bassist Daniel Pfister from the mix. If there’s any kind of punchy bass work going on here, it’s pummeled and knocked out by everything else. This is not to say that the mix itself is awful, as none of the other instrumentation is at war with itself. The keyboards are given a clear but appropriately subdued presence to maintain melodic atmospheres, and even the shrillest of power metal vocal tropes (ASHES! TO ASHES!!!) never stifle the surrounding sonic scenery. No, the mix seems fine, the bassist just seems gone, possibly off doing werewolf things. The music never feels lacking, however, and honestly there are far worse sins a fledgling power metal act could commit beyond banishing their bassist to the background.
Dreaded power metal it may be, but Neverland is a stellar debut and I can’t hate on it. The music is well composed and enjoyable, a listening experience on par with anything Gods’s more established peers and influences dish out. Where it causes disapproving head shaking in some, it will incite rapturous head banging in others, whether they want to or not. Gods of Silence have truly created something to be proud of, no matter how much it shames this particular Mvppet to revel in something so unkvlt.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Rock of Angels Records
Websites: godsofsilence.bandcamp.com | godsofsilence.com | facebook.comgodsofsilence
Releases Worldwide: September 8th, 2017