I stand up and I sit down. I stand up again… The puzzled look the cat is throwing at me from the heights confirms that Reflections, by Silent Opera, is accepted by her feline musical instincts, which should not be called into question because, like mine, they embrace with a special and familiar affection these grandstanding samples of epic dark atmospheres and symphonic aggression. I sit down again, even hesitant, I do not know if I should write or surrender to the music completely, but I’m brave, I choose to write.
Silent Opera is a French band which has roots that can be traced back in 2007. And speaking with an open heart, I can tell you they are not as silent as their name says. Composed of Laure Laborde and Steven Schriver (vocals), Olivier Sentenac (bass), Romain Larregain (guitars), Jon Erviti (drums) and Laura Nicogossian (keyboards), they preach a fascinating blend of technical death metal and symphonic progressive metal, all of this framed in the ambiguous and wide world of melodic metal.
First of all, I need open minds … You cannot come to this album with prejudices in your heart. I honestly do not recommend it. Silent Opera has created a special and seductive world, all these sounds that are so far, are so close at the same time that they send subliminal messages to the figurative heart and the physical brain with the precision of a tiger biting a deer’s neck. It’s that “je ne sais quoi” in its concept that reminds me of the fascinating vibe in Epysode’s Obsessions, but musically I have in front of my eyes, or should I say in front of my ears, something completely different. I don’t want to get lost in this… but I cannot ignore the powerful atmosphere that attracts me like a magnet. This, more than an álbum, is a perpetual journey in space-time.
This mix of extreme metal, and symphonic power, red and stabbing, slides under the veil of two voices that by being so contrasting end up complementing each other as a big circle of luminous and subjugating music, emotions, sweetness, terror and some insanity. In terms of songwriting dynamics unfold themselves between slow paced sweetened passages and energetic dark riffs typical of death metal. The voices instead suggest that contrast required by the gothic genre, which I find great but not surprising, because as we all know, this genre is always a Beauty and the Beast story, normally men are very manly, and women are fragile and operatic, and let’s just say I am not someone who is attracted by normal things. However, the technique and performance of the two singers have enchanted me, and the arpeggios of the almost progressive keyboards by Laura are something I’d listen to all day. I’m hearing that little voice in my head that whispers: You… Can’t… Sleep… Tonight…
Beyond The Gate of a Deep Slumber begins with gothic chimes and dramatic orchestration to then evolve into heavy dark riffs, which lightens and reloads here and there, lulling in its lap a mesmerizing keyboard. Laure’s voice has that colour typical of gothic metal, able to reach the unreachable notes without sweating, and perhaps one of the most striking things on the album are the moody growls of Mr Steven Schriver, who sounds powerful and unbeatable as a beast just released from hell.
Nightmare Circus shows great progressions all over the song, being metal when it has to be metal, being theatrical when it needs to be emotive. And even being so sweet and operatic, Laure’s voice does not become mawkish. Thanks in no small part to the raw guitars and to a main riff that proves a unique and most welcome influence of the early After Forever. There’s an unusual release of violence on Steven’s voice on certain passages. Close to the end of the song there’s a bright piano that is so bright that dazzles. Perhaps the French blood in them, perhaps the French side of me (Secret revealed, I have French blood in my veins), makes work all this romantic and intense vibe that takes possession of the compositions and transforms them into something unexplored, a portal to fantasies longed and needed. The point is that the piano is bright, and it sticks in the soul like whispering you to let yourself go.
Dorian explodes without a warning with a sharp energetic riff and a mischievous keyboard jumping here and there like a shadow. The voices enter in a sort of dialogue worth seeing in any Andrew Lloyd Weber’s play, in fact I think the master would definitively give this song his thumbs up. I stand up again and I’m looking for some coffee, because it is night already, and the mermaid’s voice of Laure tells me that the tonight there’s much more to do. The Great Chessboard is on the same line with the aggressive riffs. Then again, Laure manages to sound delicate but never cheesy. Unexpected breaks, virulent growls, enjoyable symphonies, everything converges as a brilliant new world in front of my tired, enamoured eyes.
Furious drum work and clever time changes are shown in Fight or Drift, and Steven simply steals the song, proudly shining his fantastic vocal technique and assertive interpretation. One thing I forgot to mention before, (I’m sorry I’m still human), the lyrics of the songs are just greatly developed, these words go far beyond the typical and delves into the fields of modern and captivating poetry. It reflects perfectly how in actual Operas the poetry and the music are twinned and… Voila! The beauty is born.
Dawn of the Fool makes love to my ears like just few things have ever done it before. Those bass drums, those fast riffs, that atmosphere that blows magic and aggressive passion on every beat, petting my emotions with a frantic and ethereal touch… Oh God help me…
And if Chronicles of an Infinite Sadness looks like an epic title for a song just wait to actually listen to it, a soft piano, so soft it hurts, enters with Laure, I mean, Laure’s voice, to the deepest sands of our hearts’ seashore, almost impossible to avoid being touched by its imagery, again the mermaids in her voice calling me from the backing vocals while she slowly trembles, singing more and more like a non-human angel, or like a human that became an angel, I’m not sure, but her voice is sinking in the sea of silence and just poking his head to catch some breath, or to allow us to catch it… And trust me, if songs were women, this would be my personal version of Aphrodite.
I stand up… I sit down again… This routine could go on all night. The seconds of silence pass and Inner Museum begins with Laure’s soft voice giving me some time to breathe, but aggression overcomes tranquillity, just as in real life, and then, right in the middle of the metal chaos… Oh là là! Ce n’est pas possible! Was that a five seconds Cypress hill-ish rap? Oh, I must be dreaming…
To end the trip, and even knowing in my head that I’ve already said too much, Sailor, Sirens and Bitterness. The last song that besides confirming it was not just my head playing tricks on me and there were actual sirens singing bitterness at my ears. (I never notice the sailor though), brings a nice progressive flavour in its keyboards and delivers more tasteful technique, explosive violence and dramatic emotion in its most polished state, entwined in the folds of the more filling and irresistible orchestration possible.
Being as symphonic as it may be, Silent Opera remains aggressive and bold, intense, brief, and raw, as love and as death. Though neat, everything is still metal. Time signatures fluid and numerous that tackle a powerful bass and guitars sharpened on the heat of the coals. Technique delivery and a great sense of style. An ode to the heaviest side of symphonic metal with a male singer that stands up for being variously sophisticatedly, eclectic and furious, while the female singer unfolds her wide range with theatrical attitudes and bare emotions, the two voices linked like a crown on a wild and furious onslaught of melodic death metal and orchestration, that goes from its peak flooding everything with overflowing passion to hide itself in the fog of atmospheric disturbances.