When reviewing copious amounts of music, you may think that the process engenders a multitude of questions. Sadly, the one I am most wont to ask — and by an abyssal margin — is “why?” Why did I bring this on myself? Why is this happening? Why did they think this would be okay? Clearly in some alternate universe I must have pissed in Jørn’s pocket and told him it was raining, because his wrath has extended beyond all manner of quasar, quantum and quark to facilitate my punishment with Sarajevo’s The Loudest Silence, a symphonic metal band whose name and debut album title, Aesthetic Illusion, have me buckled under the weight of such irony. Now, I don’t hate any genre for the sake of it — it’s that exact pompous snobbery that stunts metal’s growth as a whole — however, bad is just bad. Let’s get this over with.
Never should you judge a book by its cover, but you’ve seen the album art adorned atop this review, and believe me, you know exactly what this sounds like. Basic chunky rhythms that amble over “swelling” keys, while a nymph-like woman wearing some kind of wedding dress in the middle of nowhere looks wistfully out over a river, doing her very best to appear ethereal and absolutely not attempting to secure an alternative modeling contract… Realistically, it’s impossible to penalize a band for adhering to their genre’s tropes just because it isn’t a favorite of mine. After all, death and thrash are fed hale and hearty on cliche more than most, but sometimes, try as I might, my trite-o-meter bubbles over and I’m left with only the most banal of mercury poisoning.
There are no two ways around it, vocalist, Taida Nazraic, is clearly talented. Most of the album is sung in a general mid-range but every so often she elevates her delivery to let fly a suitably angelic soprano narrative, replete with immaculate vibrato. Unfortunately for her, the songs are so dull it almost directly counteracts her ability. Mirza Coric’s riffs are so bland that their constant chugging actively distracts from the vocal lines, which in and of themselves aren’t particularly well written, despite being well performed. Normally I’d examine a collection of songs to further exercise my point, but I honestly can’t remember them — only the grim recollection of having listened to them persists. In the spirit of fairness, the latter half of Aesthetic Illusion is fractionally improved. While the symphonics exist, seemingly immune to the ebb and flow of all and any tempo, “Soul Reflection” actually manages to appropriately craft a crescendo around a chorus with some effective power metal riffing, while “Theatre of the Absurd” conveys a subdued gothic mood, building on its base-level melodrama with an acoustic interlude.
Without question, The Loudest Silence have misguidedly pushed their leaking boat out in a bid to deliver supposedly bombastic metal. Ironically, the album’s most effective moments are when the instrumentation is stripped back, as on “Acheron” or “The Loudest Silence,” highlighting Nazraic’s voice. The production is so unbearably shit — devoid of all and any low-end – that the flat guitar tone actually clashes with her mid-range, occasionally rendering it flat — not so when divested of superfluous noise, which is arguably all of it. I’m strongly beginning to suspect that the album, possessed of some kind of horrific sentience, means me harm as “Gallery of Wonders” throws everything at the wall in an effective bid to finally sink my synapses. Featuring a guest vocal spot from Epica‘s Mark Jansen and a selection of string-enhanced folky nuances, this twelve fucking minute song exacerbates the record’s already gross bloat problem, finally pricing me out with its egregious attempt at a progressive epic. Not even the extra fills of drummer, Danir Sinanovic Bumbar, whose snare sounds like he’s petulantly whipping it with a horse chestnut, can save me now.
I’m not prepared to declare that The Loudest Silence are devoid of talent because I suspect they aren’t. I’m not entirely sure, however, that this extends to their debut, as I promptly do my best to pretend it never happened. Future material might do well to restrain the excess and more subtly promote the vocals; as such, those more enamored of the genre may extract a little more mileage than I, but not much, as Aesthetic Illusion simply isn’t good. Such is my martyred suffering that I’m off to listen to approximately nothing at fucking high volumes — I suggest you do the same.