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Age Of Silence came together as a fusion from members of Mayhem, Arcturus, Solefald, and so on. In other words, this is something of a supergroup between the more adventurous bands in the Norwegian black metal scene. At once, this may excite fans of those bands, perhaps wanting to hear some sort of 'ultimate' black metal album. On the contrary, many of the overt black metal sounds have been filtered out, and instead, these musicians try their hand at a very strange and keyboard-heavy take on avant-garde metal. It takes some getting used to, but 'Acceleration' is a successful departure from these musicians' black metal roots.
With a sound somewhat similar to that of fellow avant-metallers Solefald, Age Of Silence is an elaborate mish-mash of styles, rolled into one distinctive sound. The symphonic keyboards of band leader Andy Winter give a gothic vibe to the music, and he brings some eerie classical piano to the table on top of that. Age of Silence is decidedly not a black metal band, but the guitars here aren't too dissimilar from Emperor, or Ihsahn's solo work. The most distinctive element of Age Of Silence's music are the vocals, offered here by Lars Nedland. His voice is very melodic, and there is no ego in his delivery; while a more traditional metal or rock singer would have put inflections in the performance or at least something to prove that they are a great or fantastic singer, Nedland's performance sticks to the words on paper and draws within the lines, almost uncomfortably so. In truth, his vocals here are wonderful, with great vibrato and some complicated vocal harmonies running throughout the album. It does sound like he is singing with a gun to his back however, and not all listeners are going to like that.
The lyrics are at-times puzzling, but there is a very concrete theme that runs through the album. As is reflected in the artwork, 'Acceleration' is a largely nihilistic perspective of modern life, its fast-paced workings, and the general sense that humans are becoming more like machines, and less like real people. The song titles do offer this concept up a bit too readily, but the lyrics tackle it well enough, throwing in a dash of surrealism to satisfy the avant-fans. The production is often cold and disparate, but it works well like that. Besides a warm respite with the acoustic 'I No Longer Know If I Am Mad', the music relies on cold, gloomy guitars, incredibly varied keyboards, and many other surprises- like electronic beats- that sometimes only ever appear once throughout the entire album. This is an eerie and strange album, and won't fail to alienate plenty of the fans of the bands for which these musicians are otherwise best known for. It is pretty jarring at first to hear avant-garde metal with such melodic vocals, but underneath the aloof impression I first got from 'Acceleration', there is something oddly beautiful here.
Before purchasing this album, I had heard the song Acceleration from a free download. I was blown away at the mix of amazing keyboard work and awesome guitar riffs. It prompted me to buy the album just a week later, and I do not regret it one bit.
The production is top notch. Everything can be heard clearly and fine. Every key pushed down and every string played can be heard perfectly.
The guitar work is great. It varies from fast, thrashy to slow, melodic riffs. (All in one song, too.) Hellhammer's drumming isn't the fast, brutal drumming we're used to. He drums slow in this release, something I didn't know he was capable of doing. He does a damn good job of it too, fitting with the guitar riffs perfectly. The bass is there, but is seldom really heard.
The two main highlights of this CD are the vocals and keyboards. I hadn't heard Lars Nedland's vocal work before, but boy was I impressed. The man can fucking sing and he can do it well. His voice is soothing and relaxing, staying at the same tone for most of the CD. Definitely one of the best clean vocalists I've heard.
Andy Winter is a god at playing the keyboards. Every song brings a different feeling to it with his keyboarding. When it's mixed with the guitars, it's simply amazing. He seems to build up on so many different genres of playing. He seems to play jazz-style a lot on this release, even mixing in some hip-hop like beats. The combo of vocals, awesome guitar riffs, and his keyboarding creates an extravagant mood and sound. It brings the listener into an almost trance like state.
This CD is for everyone; the black metal grave-robbers, the death metal intestine-eaters, or thrash metallers stuck in 1986. Highly fucking recommended.
This is a kind of supergroup, formed by personalities like Lars of Solefald fame and Hellhammer from Mayhem. This is not avantgarde, it is exclusively progressive metal.
Hellhammer did a good job, showing that his drumming is much more than blackened racing beats. The songs are not very fast, generally they play at mid-paced speeds. Another high point are Lars' vocals, certainly one of the warmest and most emotional vocals in the metal territory, not the annoying power-bitch deal, nor the throaty growls.
It seems that the guy that does most of the deal, however, is this Andy Winter. The riffs are not virtuoso stuff at all, they consist of simple chord progressions, and they are also a little bit buried under the others. So, as I said, this Andy Winter is a skillful piano player, that's for sure, but there is a flaw in his playing. Yes, he is skillful and his playing fits perfectly, technically speaking, but he lacks the emotion and subtle beauty that we can find at others like him (take Mirai from Sigh, for example).
Overall, a VERY decent to disappointing release, for its members.
This CD is a gem. First off, you have Hellhammer on drums. The grand and meloncholy vocals of Lars Nedland. Not to mention the wizard of a pianist, Andy Winter. Age of Silence is only really one member short of being Winds.
Before looking up info on this band, I immidietly picked up on the vocals, and how familiar they sounded. I knew them from Asmegin. In general, that's what the whole of the vocals sound like.
This disc is like Vintersorg, but actually more abstract at times. There is a sweet palette of songs laid out here, all sounding different, stylistically. Ranging anywhere from dark jazz, to middle eastern, to progressive folk, and beyond.
Hellhammer also shows his talent in being able to play so different a style from the bands most people know him from. (Mayhem, Immortal, The Kovenent) I would never have guessed he could pull off such a perfomance. His drumming here is precise, flowing, and very professional.
A couple highlight tracks:
"A Song for D. Incorperated" A very epic track. Folk, classical, electronic, and death metal lurking underneath it all. Ever second is filled with technicallity and beauty. Very meloncoly (not in the depressed Goth sense) and very harmonious vocals.
"Acceleration" An atmospheric track. Dark and abstract as Hell. Catchy as Hell, also. When you hear this song, you know what the band's all about. Growling, singing, a folk flow, classical elements, with an over all movie soundtrack feel. So epic, and sometimes majestic sounding ...
"90 Degree Angles" What a catchy and beautiful song. It's all here. Softness versus heaviness, anthmatic chorus, complexity, style out the wazzo, and enough weird to make Micheal Jackson do a double take.
The true highlight of the album: Andy Winter. This man, is simply a genius. He fuses together jazz and classical in a smooth way. His parts come in many forms; broken and awkward, flowing and gorgeous, or dark and otherworldly. Where in Winds, he and Tidemann trade on and off the spotlight, Andy steals the show, so to speak, in this band. To me anyway, he is definetely the focal point of the band.
For any fan of progressive, you absolutely must get this.
The reasons are as follows, in no particular order of importance:
1. Andy Winter is genius
2. There's no other band in which you will find so many genre's combined
3. No other album will you find such smooth combination of these musical elements
4. Fantastic vocals
5. A great performance by Hellhammer, and a very surprising one
6. Andy Winter is genius
7. Every song sound completely different
8. ... um ... Andy Winter is genius, did I mention that yet?
Seriously - though I know most are too close-minded, I think everyone should check this astounding peice of music out.