Chapters of Tragedy
~reviewed by Joel Steudler
Please, if you will, bear with me for a moment as I make an extrememly labored point. I think it's probably safe to assume that at some time in your life, you've been to a zoo... or failing that, you at least have seen a zoo on TV. Zoos, as we all know, are filled with myriad animals. Giraffes, peacocks, rhinoceroses, lions, tigers, bears... oh my. The diversity of wildlife in a zoo is staggering, and creatures of all shapes, sizes, and colors can easily be found.
Generally speaking, it's simple to tell one kind of animal at the zoo apart from another just by looking at them. The differences between all the various animals are what make them fun to observe. More fun, say, than a zoo full of ducks. Sure, the Duck Zoo might have mallards, black ducks, shovelers, wood ducks and pintails... but they're all just ducks at heart. This strained and all-too-lengthy analogy is my way of pointing out that while a scientific dissection of Silent Voices may indeed prove that they are not Dream Theater or Rush... they're still just a progressive metal band, virtually indistinguishable from their bretheren.
I hate labelling Finland's prog-metal playin' sons as a 'generic' act since the term has such a negative connotation, and listening to Silent Voices debut album 'Chapters of Tragedy' really isn't too unpleasant. The band displays a great deal of technical skill and adroitly handles complex musical arrangements... but such craftsmanship unfortunately does not equate to originality or artistry. The seven tracks on the album are textbook progressive metal. All the hallmarks are there: spacey keyboards, crazy guitar leads, off kilter rhythms, and a rockin' vibe carried along by the pulsing bass and pounding drums. If one set out to assemble a prog-metal band out of its component parts, Silent Voices is what would likely result.
My biggest problem with the album is that Silent Voices, appropriately enough, have failed to find their own voice and instead speak exclusively in the tongue of their antecedents. The language of progressive metal as defined by Rush, Dream Theater, and similar acts fills 'Chapters of Tragedy' from beginning to end. If you know and enjoy that sound, you will find much to like on this album... but if you're looking for music that pushes boundaries or at least injects a dose of personality into an otherwise by-the-book record, this isn't the place to search.
Given that this is the band's debut album, I can forgive the derivative nature of the music and hope that in time they'll add more of themselves to the mix instead of relying on the templates established by those that have gone before them. They certainly have the technical chops to carry out any inventive ideas they come up with. They might want to hire a better producer, though, as the sound on 'Chapters of Tragedy' is marred by poor handling of the louder drum parts. They have the same over-compressed feel that you get out of a badly encoded mp3 file, sounding splashy and distorted at times. The rest of the instruments and vocals seem to have avoided this pitfall, though, and are seperated enough that even the more complex layered parts don't get muddy.
All in all, Silent Voices' debut album 'Chapters of Tragedy' is a promising if uninventive record. Fans of progressive metal will enjoy it unless they're looking for something that breaks out of the formulaic mold. This is straight-up 100% proof prog on the rocks. I hope that the band builds on their impressive mastery of instrumental technique and knowledge of the language of prog-metal and brings something new to the table on their next offering.
Silent Voices is:
Silent Voices Official Website:
Low Frequency Records:
The End Records: