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Silent Memorial: Retrospective

Silent Memorial: Retrospective

Progressive Metal
Rating: 3.5/5.0

The trials and tribulations of Switzerland's progressive metal band Silent Memorial is the stuff of music legend: formation, lineup troubles, find a musical path, sign with label, label barely distributes new album (Cosmic Handball, 1998), more lineup troubles, hibernate and write, reform and regenerate with a new label (Limb Music) and a new album, Retrospective. Is this an interesting title or just irony to sum up the last 10 years or so? I hope not because Retrospective is a genuinely strong, but often mundane, effort from this talented band formed around guitarist Christoph Baertschi and keyboardist Chris Haenggi, and also featuring ex-Cloudscape singer Michael Andersson.

After surveying the track listing and noting that there is one song, the title cut, which is more than 22 minutes long, I new this song would probably be centerpiece, the strongest piece on the disc. I was right. 'Retrospective' is epic in scope with a completely engaging arrangement that keeps your interest throughout and reveals Silent Memorial's ambitious craftsmanship. It's movements are varied and creative from the speed and weight of a power metal to the sublime and delicate of vocals over guitar. It's a dynamite song. I wish I could say the same for the rest of the songs on Retrospective.

I could easily pass over the first three songs which, with the possible exception of the slightly more deft 'Difference,' seemed exercises in nearly chaotic, pummeling prog metal. Frankly, there was nothing that truly intrigued my musical interest or led me to believe that Silent Memorial was any different than any other current heavy progressive metal band. However, after the brilliant 'Retrospective,' I found some improvement. 'The Darkest Hour' is more accessible thanks to its more melodic texture over the lesser heavy movements. 'TV World' seemed no different than the first three, but is saved by Andersson's best performance. Finally, 'Lost' comes closer to the title track in appeal simply because of its more diverse arrangement.

Silent Memorial's reappearance with Retrospective is a mixed bag of heavy progressive metal. If not for a few compelling pieces, notably 'The Darkest Hour' and 'Lost,' and the brilliant title track, 'Retrospective,' much of this work could be dismissed as average stuff. Recommended for hardcore fans of progressive metal.

In Short

Silent Memorial's reappearance with Retrospective is a mixed bag of heavy progressive metal. If not for a few compelling pieces, notably 'The Darkest Hour' and 'Lost,' and the brilliant title track, 'Retrospective,' much of this work could be dismissed as average stuff. Recommended for hardcore fans of progressive metal.

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