Monday, October 29, 2012

Silent Leges Inter Arma: Silent Leges Inter Arma (2012)

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards, Etc.

Silent Leges Inter Arma are a German black metal/black'n'roll band who formed only a few years ago. They released their self-titled full-length debut October 12th.

This band, despite their Metal Archives classification as just "black metal", do not have a sound that I would describe as being at all typical of that sub-genre in its pure form. The guitar work, rather than creating a thin wall of coldly clinging notes, is much more open and full-bodied. The drumming rarely falls back on clattering blasts of speed, and instead it feels surprisingly straight-forward and rock oriented. The vocals, too, are not really standard black metal fare, as they frequently dip down into deeper reaches that at times sound more like they belong on a death metal album. The band have clear black metal roots that show through in many places and they stick to a black metal aesthetic, but they are not a straight black metal band.

The vocalist's tonal range is good, and he delivers with plenty of power. In some places he lets loose with black metal shrieks, but he generally employs a more mid-range roar. The guitar riffs are solidly enjoyable, if not particularly outstanding, and the numerous acoustic interludes, intros, and outros provide plenty of atmosphere without ever getting too cheesy. The band moves very smoothly through the soft/heavy dynamics, and that coupled with effective tempo shifts goes a long way toward giving the record an excellent sense of flow.

There is one big problem I have with this album though: the drums. The drumming typically comes at a solid mid-paced gait with a nice full sound, which I must admit I prefer to the thin rattles and clicks that so much black metal drumming sounds like as a result of production quality. So while there in nothing special about the drum work, the actual sound of the drums isn't terrible. The volume, on the other hand, drove me crazy. On many tracks the drumming is far too loud in the mix. This is bad for two reasons. The first is that since it's the least interesting aspect of this band's music, having it stand out front where it commands attention seems like a poor choice. The second is that having a loud banging over top of everything else is just irritating and frankly a little headache-inducing. Apart from this one glaring issue, the production is fine.

Overall, this is a good record. The band is certainly nowhere near the hostile extremes that black metal can reach, but they can obviously produce solid, entertaining material. Some tweaks to the mix levels would definitely improve the listening experience, but I suppose that can be considered par for the course given that this is a relatively new band still working out the kinks. These guys have promise, and I look forward to hearing more from them in the future. I just hope they turn down the drums next time.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

Eisenwald Tonschmiede

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