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Walk The Earth is the most modern manifestation of Silent Force’s sound, both chronologically and in terms of production. Compared with earlier efforts, Walk The Earth is sleek, heavy, and polished. As the sound has improved, so has the band’s chops. Opener “Man & Machine” is the work of a mature power metal band with full control over their sound, and it’s no fluke. As the album progresses, each member provides at least a marginal improvement in performance. Soft sections are better designed, vocal layering is easily at its best, and dynamic and tempo shifts are effortless and pristine.
If you ask me, the title track should have been the opener. While “Man & Machine” is full of energy, the titular song is packed with a variety of delicious elements, intelligent lyrics, and a trademark Cooper chorus that leaps out of your speakers in epic harmonized strains. At last keyboardist Torsten Rohre seems to be an integral part of the mix in every song. No longer overlooked, the keyboards run the gamut from classical piano to synth arpeggios layered expertly over riffing and gliding choruses alike.
I feel that this album represents the pinnacle of what DC Cooper is capable of. While always fond of layering vocals, his voice is clear, his range very good, and both highs and lows are spot on. His control and poise are near perfect, and his vocal melodies tuck in so neatly with supporting instruments that it seems the most natural thing in the world. While it can’t quite be described as collectively progressive or symphonic, Walk The Earth borders on both of these descriptors with some frequency. What it does scream at the top of its lungs is “maturity”. Perhaps Silent Force hasn’t reached its full potential, but this is a damn fine slice of power metal that places them in the upper echelon of the genre. The songs on Walk The Earth are consistently accessible, but the niche Silent Force sound is omnipresent: melodies that don’t turn out quite how you expect them to, and riffing that doesn’t quite fall in line with generally accepted arrangements.
Songs like “Walk The Earth”, “The King Of Fools”, and “Goodbye My Ghost” are from every standpoint some of the best works that the band has ever pieced together, especially the last, with it’s somber yet spirited refrain. It’s a shame that most members of Silent Force have found new homes with well-established bands (Cooper back to Royal Hunt, Beyrodt to Voodoo Circle, Primal Fear, and re-establishing his role in Sinner, Andre Hilgers to Sinner and Rage, and bassist Jurgen Steinmetz to Sons Of Seasons) at a point when everything was coming together so well. Though by most sources the band is still active and theoretically has put together some material for a fifth album, there’s been precious little press for the last four years.
There are a few low points here. “My Independence Day” is not a remarkable tune, and the George W Bush voiceovers in “Blind Leading The Blind” are definitely not a favorite, though the song itself is good enough. Although this album lacks the sheer exuberance of Worlds Apart, I find it to be a more fulfilling listen, if less upbeat.
Still, those yearning for power metal excellence will find Walk The Earth to be a very rewarding listen, and it isn’t going anywhere anytime fast. Even if it turns out to be the last hurrah of a band that brought its members to heavy metal prominence, Walk The Earth is a substantial achievement featuring a well-oiled machine that learned and continuously became more efficient over its lifespan. Few enough bands are as consistent as Silent Force, and improve as consistently. Walk The Earth is a modern power metal essential, and a crescendo of talent and cooperation.
Original review written for Black Wind Metal