The land of Slovakia has been producing a fine and steady stream of high-quality metal over the last few years, and relative newcomers Within Silence is part of that ongoing scene. Though this is their debut album, this up-and-coming melodic power metal band is not entirely new to the territory. They originally formed in 2008 under the name Rightdoor with founders Martin Klein and Richard Germánus, and formed their current lineup in 2013. In addition to Martin (lead and backing vocals) and Richard (lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals and growls), the band includes Martin Cico (rhythm guitars), Filip Andel (bass, backing vocals), and Peter Gacik (drums). In 2014, they decided to change their name to the current Within Silence, and put together their 2015 debut album, Gallery of Life, which contains an impressive set of 11 songs for listeners to consider.
The album begins with an Intro just over a minute long that consists of meditative synth chord changes with some Gregorian Chant-like chorals to accompany them. It is a gentle introduction to the album that sets a reverent kind of tone, and this contemplative style may mislead you into thinking that you just bought a relaxation album. But make no mistake, as it builds at the very end and segues directly into the second track, Silent Desire, there is no question that this album is quite metallic indeed. This song launches into a driving guitar-led entry with syncopated drums to further accent the introductory melodic riff. The music softens a bit as the first verse enters, without losing energy, and some pizzicato strings lightly provide a lovely embellishment to the verse’s melody into the bridge before entering into the catchy and layered chorus. During the first instrumental interlude, we get to hear shredding skills from the lead guitar, and then later during the second interlude, the soloing is more melodic, showing versatility in the stylistic and musical approaches. The repeating introductory strain is more accented and punchy, and seems to be an antithesis of the smoother and rich harmonically-layered chorus as the other main musical theme throughout the song. The echoing of the last soaring vocal with undergirding chords from the keys bring an end to this energetic and catchy opener. Watch the official music video below to hear this striking opening track, which illustrates the main theme of the song about finding the right door that leads to one’s best path in life.
Emptiness of Night, the third track, starts off with a steady 16th note introduction from all the instruments, in the rhythm guitar, bass, kick drum, and harpsichord keys, which are a recurrent theme throughout the song. This scales back going into the first verse, but picks up in the bridge and comes back strongly in the chorus, which builds vocally as well with nicely layered harmonies. After the first chorus, there is a small solo segue in the first instrumental interlude before going on to the second verse, bridge, and chorus cycle. After this second chorus, there is another instrumental interlude with a lengthier guitar solo undergirded by the continuing 16th notes held down by the rest of the band, which is then followed by a repeated channel with a different melody and structure, furthering the song’s theme of dark and light. A new solo consisting of smoothly executed scale licks kicks in after this channel that keeps the stable yet busy pace of the song, but as the chorus reprises, the instrumentation tends to suspend more for a “light” chorus for a bit of a sonic break in the first half, but the power metal style of this song returns for the second half of the chorus into the instrumental outro that is punctuated by a vocal scream that could almost rival Michael Sweet. Overall, this song contains a consistent rhythm and sense of melody, but it retains some detours that give it an interesting road map, though it is not as complicated as some of their other tracks on this album. It is a satisfying tune with a catchy chorus that is the pinnacle of the song.
Going into the fourth track, Elegy of Doom, the approach changes to a more syncopated and traditional metal introduction and goes into the first verse (which could almost be considered a verse 1a and 1b, since it is longer and repeats the melody structure every 4 lines) followed by a bridge that shifts in style and sound – particularly with dirty vocals on the last line – that segues into the chorus. It is shorter than most other choruses on this album, but its short, repetitive nature tends to keep it stuck in your mind. Following the first chorus is an instrumental interlude with a shredding guitar solo to include tapping for a lightning fast delivery that focuses on the speed more than some of the other more melodic solos found on this album. A second solo enters afterwards with a tone that almost evokes a bagpipe- or pungi-like sound that carries into the new channel after the chorus, countering the harsh vocals that are growled throughout this whole section. This song is the first departure on the album thus far to include the dirty vocals, spoken by guitarist Germanus and the roughness of which matches the grim topic of the song. With another interlude that is more rhythm-based, the 2a/2b verse enters and continues into the second bridge and chorus, as before. However, this is where the song differs from the structure of the other tracks as the song ends abruptly at the end of this last chorus, without any outro or fade away.
The fifth song, The Last Drop of Blood, is the second longest track on the album at seven minutes in length. This track is a bit heavier and darker in its sound and delivery, and starts off with a low-range guitar riff with syncopated drums and bass against it, alternating between the accented beats and then coming it with double blast beats that push it forward with intensity in the first and second verses. They segue quite seamlessly into the chorus, though the heavy riffing suspends somewhat as the focus is on the vocal melody and the consistent beat driven by the drums while the guitars arpeggiate the chords in the background. However, the heavy guitar riffs are laid down again to reintroduce the third verse and continuing into its familiar theme. The chorus is again reprised thereafter and then the song takes a turn into the lengthy minute and a half first instrumental interlude. This is where the song first takes a break and drops down to a slower guitar solo, but then the drums and bass begin to re-enter with a steady beat and the interlude builds into a shredding guitar solo that becomes more melodic as it continues. Segueing into a channel with new melodies, the instruments simplify into a more martial rhythm heavy on beats 1 and 3 throughout, and then at the end build into 16th note patterns underneath the extended vocal lines, fading into a second channel that keeps up the 16th notes from the guitars, bass, and drums with more fluid vocals sung over them. I must comment here that in this second channel section, Klein‘s vocal delivery really reminds me of the Torben Askholm-era of Anubis Gate, like something off the A Perfect Forever album. A second, shorter instrumental interlude appears after this second channel with a melodic guitar solo over the driving rhythm guitar riffs, and the familiar verse melody again reprises in a fourth verse after the solo and into the chorus once more. The song ends with a repetitive ending verse that again differs from any of the previous segments, with the repeating line “this world must die” sung by a choir in between the lead vocal lines with a counter guitar melody, and sung lastly by Klein himself as the song ends with a beautiful but melancholy piano outro.
Love is Blind is the sixth track, is a peppy power track, pushed forward by 16ths throughout the whole song (mostly by the drums and keys), with a soaring guitar solo entry over the flurry of notes from the rhythm and keys. The vocal melodies are more smoothly paced as a balance to the busy instrumental parts, but don’t lag as to drag the song down. The song itself is fairly straightforward with a couple of verses, identical bridges and chorus after each one, and a different channel at the end before the repeat. This is an energetic song that is easy enough to pick up melodically and relate to lyrically, and is a solid song in the album. Somewhat in line with its sad predecessor of a song about being hurt by someone they loved, Anger and Sorrow is an angsty song that communicates the hurt that can be done by words of anger. This song starts off much differently, though, with a singular, clean guitar melody and the vocals come in for the first verse as a melancholy duet. Before long, however, the rest of the instruments enter one by one, and the guitar switches to distortion and the pace and heaviness ensues, giving a sense of aggressiveness that fits the subject matter in particular. This continues through the rest of the song, and in the last reprise of the chorus, growls are introduced, and speak the last 3 lines of the song and ends with a scream, quite apropos to the topic of the song. This song has the ability to hit home with many of us, and the A chorus and B chorus are very similar, but change it just a bit to focus on both the wish for the offender to clear his conscience as well as to take away the pain from the one he hurt. After the initial introduction, this song is relentless and progressively gets heavier and stronger. However, it is no less melodic and the vocal lines are memorable as they are launched forward by the precise execution of the foundational 16ths by guitars, drums, bass, and keys a different times and sometimes all at once.
The seventh track, entitled Judgment Day, starts off with a guitar-keyboard led melodic introduction into the melodic first verse. This song is a fairly straightforward piece, with a typical V-B-Ch repeating pattern, though there is a nice key change toward the end of the song on the third chorus reprise. The vocal melodies are pleasant and easy to pick up, and the track includes some nice embellishments by the keyboard, sometimes paralleled by the bass. It is the shortest vocalized track on the album, a bit under four minutes, and is fairly compact in its song structure that is predictable yet enjoyable. However, the relatively upbeat song belies the serious nature of the lyrics, if one chooses to pay attention to the message.
The World of Slavery begins much differently, with the bass at the forefront introducing the song supported strongly by the drums. The guitars enter later with a lilting triplet melody, which ushers in the first verse. This track is another that also includes a small amount of dirty vocals, emphasized in the bridges that fit the topic of the song as the musical rhythms suspend underneath before diving into the rallying choruses. This song has a somewhat Celtic/Viking/folk feel to it that fits it well, while still remaining quite metal, with the layered vocals underneath the sung melody lines and the occasional triplet/reel melodies that appear from time to time, especially in the instrumental interludes. The interlude in the middle of the song is lengthier than usual, but is a quite enjoyable piece of music to listen to, even if taken out of context from this song. It ends with a vocal scream almost worthy of Michael Sweet as before. Again, the topical choice is heavy, as they tackle many serious and difficult topics in each of their songs, this one addressing the shackles that mankind gets mired down in with little hope but one to break out of it.
Road to the Paradise is the longest song on the album at close to 8 minutes in length, and it is an appropriately epic ending to the album with this final full-length track. (Watch the official lyric video below to hear this epic tune.) This song starts off with a brisk, but not-too-fast-paced, introduction that is dual-guitar led with powerful rhythm backing. It goes into the first verse that is just the beginning of this roller coaster of a song, which builds as it enters the pre-chorus with a driving beat yet moderate pace, setting the stage for the melodic chorus with its catchy theme and harmonies. A nice touch is the addition of the harpsichord that gives this power metal piece a bit of baroque flair. The channel after the chorus continues with a strong anthemic lyric with echoing responsive vocal lines that segue with a short interlude into the second verse/pre-chorus/chorus/channel musical pattern. However, as I mentioned this piece is a roller coaster, the song does not end there, and the path starts to twist again after the second channel into an entirely different second half. A new bridge appears with a new melody that is emphatic, supported by accented drums and guitars that soften toward the end into an instrumental interlude that is melodically led by the bass, interestingly enough, and the song continues in this softer vein for a little while as a third bridge of yet different melodies is introduced. Subsequently, the pace begins to slowly build again with lead guitar soloing into another instrumental interlude that allows all of the instruments to shine in their own respects. Then, as it reaches the last couple of minutes of the song, the approach and melody shift yet again to a more rigid beat from the instruments as the vocal melodies change leading into the most vocally acrobatic part of the song. Starting with a jump in octaves, it quickly develops into a counterpoint of 3 different vocal melodies that fit very well like finely attuned gears which resolve into a unison, repetitive line that showcase the classically delivered vocals that have a maturity to their depth and execution. It then fades into the Outro, the last minute of the album which seems more like a Gothic conclusion to the previous song rather than a separate track. This piece parallels the Intro as it segues back into the cathedral-like chorale with the Gregorian-esque male voices and smooth synth chord changes, ending with a grand crescendo to bring the album to a close.
Within Silence‘s debut album Gallery of Life shows a certain maturity for a first album. The fact that the band has been together for a while before recording their first album is probably an important part of that equation, but their songwriting and performance execution skills are already quite solid. Their songs are interesting and they write particularly memorable choruses. Martin Klein is a capable vocalist with a mature sound, nice vibrato, and extensive range who sings comfortably in his chosen melody range without a sense of strain. His harmonizations (assisted by Milos Mantic, guitarist Richard Germanus, and bassist Filip Andel on backing vocals) are a lovely addition that bring depth to the music, especially when they are layered particularly well in the songs’ choruses for an added effect. The only difficulty I had at all was, as a native speaker, discerning his English delivery on some of the words and phrases, though this is a small critique overall that can easily be assisted by reading the lyrics included in the liner notes (and besides, the fact remains that I have little room to criticize since my Slovakian is nonexistent). 🙂 Guitarist Richard Germanus is quite a shredder and powerhouse when it comes to the fast rhythms in the music, but he has a versatility about him that allows for other styles and dynamics to also be present. He has a great sense of melody as well as rhythm in the background to successfully bring the songs to life. His partner in crime, Martin Cico, also provides a great team connection together and his rhythm guitar playing provides a solid foundation to the arrangements that allows Germanus to shine during the lead solo work, while keeping it grounded with fellow bassist Filip Andel. As a pick-playing bassist, Andel handles the fast rhythms he often lays down for a evenly-played foundation that often keeps the songs moving along, many times keeping up with the blasting 16th notes he parallels with the kick drum. Peter Gacik‘s drumwork is very solid and not only does he keep the drive going, especially in the more power metal songs, but he also knows when to scale back when the music calls for it. Joining them on this album as a guest musician is Jan Cvercko on keyboards bringing several added layers of depth to the music with some wonderful arrangements that are like icing on the cake. Overall, Gallery of Life is an impressive debut album that shows off the skills of a tight band with some classical influences to their power metal style. They have a strong start to what I see can be a very successful musical career. All the members have tremendous chops and as a group they complement each other well. Their lyrics are also tackle serious topics of life that many can relate to, and they contain elements of hope despite some of the dark themes. For fans of melodic, power, or even symphonic metal, Within Silence is a band definitely worth checking out and keeping an eye on for the future.