Somewhere on a wind swept beach in a far-flung corner of the Pacific Ocean was a buried treasure chest. That chest was filled with all the riffs Running Wild had yet to use but wanted to keep from their scurvy competition. And there it sat for decades in it’s sandy repose, unknown to all but Rock n’ Rolf. That was until upstart Italian buccaneers Silverbones jacked the riff-booty, leaving empty bottles of Limoncello as their calling cards. And thus begins a career of raiding, pillaging and riff-thievery sure to strike terror in the hearts of Scotland and Germany. But does the world need more Piratecore? Is there really a growing market for metallized, cheese-coated sea chanties? That’s hard to say, but it’s clear that the Italian Jolly Roger is now aflappin and maritime commerce has yet another reason to be acrappin.
As soon as the nautical sounding intro sallies forth you’ll find yourself drowning in a veritable sea of Running Wild riffs and galloping tempos designed to approximate the experience of a pirate schooner slicing through the waves on a booty call of epic proportions. It’s this particular aspect of their sound Silverbones really nails to the mast and many of the riffs are quite good, albeit utterly pirated. It’s hard to hear songs like “Royal Tyrants” and “Queen Anne’s Revenge” and not recall of the glory days of Running Wild albums like Pile of Skulls and Black Hand Inn and I suppose that’s the whole point, except Silverbones is not quite as good as their maurading mentor and it shows on song after song.
That isn’t to say there aren’t some spirited yarns here, as ditties like “Raiders of the New World,” Wicked Kings” and “Hellblazer” certainly have their hearts in the right place and swing for the fences with exuberant riffage and a Devil-may-care swagger. The guitar-work is uniformly solid and Ricardo Galante and Marco Salvador have a real knack for writing what has come to be known as “pirate riffs” in the Stately House ov Steel. They litter the seaways with these hooky leads and harmonies while showing an keen awareness of how to drive a song with memorable riffcraft. Hell, if I was Rock n’ Rolf I’d start formulating a plan to shanghai these chaps and impress them into service with Running Wild toot sweet.
While they absolutely nail the swashbuckling conventions guitar-wise, they sometimes stumble in the overall song writing, most notably in the flat, lackluster “The Undead” which lacks any real bite or energy. But the far bigger problem is Marco’s singing. His delivery is just too weak and tame and sabotages otherwise solid tunes. Take “Raider of the New World” for example – it features an infectious and jaunty lead riff sure to get the head bobbing, and though there’s no shortage of energy to be had, Marco’s voice is too thin, clean and weak to add anything pirate-y to the mix. At chorus time, he sounds way too frail and fragile to be leading a cutthroat raiding party and it hurts the overall effect. The same issues scuttle rockers like “Hellblazer” and “Black Bart” and it’s a real shame. With a tad more grit and muscle in the vocal department, these tunes would make you want to sign on for the adventure and purloin some ill-gotten booty for yourself.
At 44 minutes, Wild Waves is just about the ideal length and only “The Undead” feels like it overstays its welcome (though “Black Bart” comes close). The production is also commendable with ample depth and clarity. The guitar tone could be a bit more meaty, but for the genre it’s about what you’d expect.
This is one of those albums you find yourself rooting for and wishing it was better than it is. As enjoyable as the songs and guitar-work can be, there are just too many issues with the vocals and writing. If they can fix these, then we’d have a truly formidable nemesis for the Alestorms and Gloryhammers of the world, and no one wants to see those acts sent down to Davy Jones’ Locker more than yours truly. Here’s to Silverbones refitting, recrewing and coming back out in a few years time with cannons loaded for bears, beets and Battlestar Galatica. Yar.
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Stormspell Records
Websites: silverbonesofficial.wix.com/silverbones | facebook.com/silverbones.heavymetal
Releases Worldwide: June 15th, 2016