Silver Talon
Decadence and Decay

Every so often, the world of metal is treated to an act that creates an altogether new and unique sound – one that, if it catches the right audience, can become a spark that inspires an entire generation of bands and musicians to try and capture some of that magic for themselves. Classic examples including At The Gates and Entombed of course come to mind, along with more contemporary examples like Isis and The Dillinger Escape Plan. But a rarer breed is a band that comes out and creates a sound that is altogether their own, one that no one ever truly replicates or gets quite right again. For me, one of those great examples, and one of my most cherished and favored bands of all-time, is Nevermore.

Which is a goddamn shame for me, ain’t it?! Between guitarist Jeff Loomis getting himself trapped and buried somewhere inside the Michael Amott/Arch Enemy audio content factory, and drummer Van Williams out there just doing his thing, the improbability of Nevermore returning to make more music is overwhelming – and that’s before the memory of Warrel Dane’s untimely death rears itself from the dark recesses of my mind and renders the whole idea moot anyway.

By now you’ve probably stopped and thought to yourself, “wait, this isn’t a Nevermore review what the hell?” and, because I know you all are so clever, know where I’m going with all of this.

A couple years ago Oregon’s Silver Talon came out with Becoming a Demon, a super solid, neoclassical-tinged Power Metal album that certainly put plenty of talent and potential on display. One thing that stood out to me – was how much singer Wyatt Howell, at times, really sounded more than a little bit like Warrel Dane. The album even featured a guest solo by, you guessed it, the incomparable Jeff Loomis. It certainly seemed that these dudes held their legendary Pacific Northwest brethren in high regard. Then last year, the band released a brand new single called “Deceiver, I am” and things were a little bit different, and yet very much familiar… The riffs, the vocal patterns and stylings, the mix of beautiful melody and crushing heft, hell – even the song’s title itself – it all felt very, VERY Nevermore-ish. And sure enough, it turns out their new LP Decadence and Decay, might just be the replacement I’ve needed to scratch that itch.

Decadence and Decay isn’t outright thievery or a carbon copy of Nevermore’s work by any stretch – I don’t think there can truly be a replication of Jeff Loomis or Warrel Dane – but the influence and admiration is certainly here and proudly on display, mixed with some of the sounds established on “Becoming a Demon.” But from opening track, the aforementioned “Deceiver, I am” to closer “Touching the Void,” there’s countless moments that will make you double-take and bring back fond memories of everything that made Dead Heart in a Dead World and This Godless Endeavor absolute classics.

The first thing that really stands out here is indeed Wyatt Howell’s vocals – understandable given how much emphasis he seems to have out into paying homage to Warrel Dane’s distinct stylings – everything from tone to vocal patterns, to how he uses his voice to interplay with the rest of the band is really spot on, while still finding moments to also inject some Halford-esque falsettos and throaty growls into the mix. While the first two tracks of the albums are both fantastic in their own right, third track “As the World Burns” is where the whole band really pulls it all together. Howell layers some really haunting, melodic lines over angular, chugging guitars and a really effective, minimal synth background that gives everything a very kind of spacious and eerie feeling, all before launching into one of the band’s signature powerful, earworm hooks that really grab your attention with the vocals again leading the way. You can find some more Dane-isms on follow-up “Next To The Sun,” with Howell channeling some of the former’s tortured, strained crooning throughout the track that hooks itself under your skin with an unsettling, but altogether compelling attack the sticks with you. His best performance comes on final track “Touch The Void,” doing a fantastic job of switching back and forth between those almost apparitional melodies, and his more commanding bellow, but during the song’s chorus, he channels another haunting, really nice Layne Staley-esque tone that feels altogether at-home with the overall feel of the song and record.

That the vocals command so much of the listener’s attention is quite a feat, as the 3-guitar attack of Bryce R. VanHoosen, Sebastian Silva and Devon Miller is enough in and of itself to impress any listener. The overall tone is perfect – crunchy and super impactful when it needs to be in the band’s heavier sections, while carrying that familiar, phase-y tone on the cleaner sections of “Next To the Sun” and ballad “What Will Be” that transport you back to the 90s and early 2000s. Besides the obvious nod to Nevermore, the tone gives me a great nostalgic reminder of Sentenced‘s The Cold White Light, To/Die/For‘s Epilogue or Theatre of Tragedy‘s Aégis – very moody and very millenium-era Century Media Records-ish.  Take your pick of awesome riffs on thing – the ground-and-pound fury of “Resistance 2029,” or the super thrashy “Divine Fury” (a strong contender with “As the World Burns” for my favorite track) that brings more of the sounds found on their prior work to the forefront, but still delivers a heavy dose of Loomis to the mix (the 20 second stretch starting at 4:00 is a pulverizing thing of beauty, not to mention the amazing final solo). While the 3 guitars may not make themselves immediately necessary in a highly-produced studio setting, I’m willing to bet that it would pay off beautifully live – and I really can’t wait to hear it first-hand.

Though I’m sure the band themselves were intentional in their clear Nevermore adoration, I don’t mean to get the entire thing bogged down as a direct comparison between the two. That’s too reductive of everything the band offers on Decadence and Decay. I’ve just been so hungry for even a taste of something that reminded me this much of the legendary act, then when someone like Silver Talon comes along and not only does the sound justice, but absolutely knocks it out of the park, I just can’t help but get a little excited about it all… Okay, VERY excited about it. Christ, I didn’t even touch on the suberb rhythm work on display from drummer Michael Thompson and bassist Walter Hartzell (both are monsters), BUT WHATEVER – the point is, this is an excellent album that does so many things right – from the gorgeous album art, to the excellent production, to the stellar songwriting and performance – everything deserves your attention. Now excuse me while I ignore pretty much everything else that comes out for the next couple weeks and listen to this on repeat til my ears bleed.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
April 29th, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: Morbid

    Cool to see them get some attention, was looking forward to this one.

    I’ve seen these guys a few times live, and a few times as the other acts they came from (Spellcaster, Sanctifyre, Sabateur) and they are/were all great.

    I thought their EP from a few years ago was good but I knew they could do even better and the singles so far have sounded like they are delivering.


  2. Commented by: Steve K

    Morbid – This album is an absolute beast, It’d be hard not to give it, and the band some love!!!


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