- The Well
- XX (The City Grave)
- I Drowned in the Desert
- Native Blood
- Tiny Hands (Au Revoir)
- Darkstrand (Hibakusha)
- First Mother (Lilith)
- To Thirst for the Sea
- Depths II
Silent Planet is a band that has been making some serious waves over the last several years. The group has shown extreme potential with their eclectic blend of artistry which merges the beauty and ambiance of mewithoutYou and the thick tone and riffing of Oh, Sleeper.
Followers of the group have been scratching their heads for a while as we wondered how a band with such levels of brilliance and ingenuity could remain unsigned for so long. Self released Eps seemingly served as teasers to whet the appetites of the rabid supporters of Silent Planet, which grew with each passing day.
Recently, however, the California natives broke their silence, revealing their closely guarded secret concerning their signing. Silent Planet had inked a deal with heavy music sultans, Solid State Records. Before the ink could dry on the contract, fans began rejoicing and seeking a way to order the long anticipated full length. Now the question remains; is “The Night God Slept” worth the wait?
Perhaps the first thing the listener will notice as the record begins is the recording quality of the album. The tones are very natural, dirty, and murky. Some may write the recording off as poorly executed tones. In fact, I was in this camp for the first few times of listening through the album. However, upon repeat listens, I found the gritty tones to be something that made the album special and gave “The Night God Slept” personality. The recording quality added a weight and a depth to the music that an overly produced record would not be able to maintain. Rather than feeling cold and mechanical, “The Night God Slept” is filled with warm and gritty tones which work in conjunction with the lyrics and music to create an extremely real and grungy album.
The Well begins a bit subdued before the dam bursts open and floods the listener’s speakers with crushing waves of sound. While the tempo of the song is everchanging and flows to and fro, the one thing that remains is the thick atmosphere of the track. The three guitar attack the band has become known for exemplifies the signature Silent Planet moodiness during the bridge of the opener as guitarist Thomas Freckleton hauntingly chants, “I’m not, but You are”.
Lead single off the album, XX(The City Grave) blows the doors wide open as the band shows their musical prowess and begins firing on all cylinders. The song hits hard musically as tight bass riffs and spectacular drumming pave the way for tapped guitar leads and dischords to shine. Frontman, Garrett Russell speaks out boldly on the sensitive topic of sex trafficking, something that’s just easier to sweep under the rug and forget about. Russell proclaims, “This injustice renders my thoughts ineffectual. Forgive me, Lover, and forget my sullen face. Privilege brings us to this place of human currencies”.
After the hauntingly beautiful interlude, Native Blood picks up right where I Drowned in the Desert leaves off. Native Blood shows off the musical genius behind the band. While most groups with three guitarists would choose to either turn the song into a jumble of too many guitar leads to process or use all three to play the same breakdown, Silent Planet adds depth and atmosphere by playing around with octaves in their riffs and breakdowns.
The track speaks about another sensitive topic, our founding fathers and the things they did to the natives in order to found what we have today. Garrett Russell speaks from the perspective of a Native American woman as he laments, “We were dressed in potential now we’re draped in sorrow / Our race is a bloodstain spattered on a profane political campaign – manifest your destiny / Stripes and stars comprise my prison bars – the cost of liberty”.
Firstwake clocks in as the longest track on “The Night God Slept” as is likely the most atmospherically crushing of all eleven cuts on the record. In a recent article on Metal Insider, Garrett Russell explained the motivation behind the song. He said, “The song discusses the disconnect between the revolutionary nature of the Gospel (hope for marginalized people, God’s closeness to humanity, power structures having no eternal authority) and the global perception of Christianity in America (politically co-opted, bigoted, intellectually blind). This theme, which is carried throughout the album, is most explicitly displayed here in a dialogue between Jesus and his mother, Mary, atop mount Golgotha”.
The track has an experimental edge to it, as guitars swap back and forth between laying down beautifully soaring notes and devastatingly heavy atmosphere. Being As An Ocean vocalist, Joel Quartuccio lays down guest vocals, making for an excellent collaboration.
First Mother (Lilith) takes a unique spin on things, as it utilizes guest vocalist Rory Rodriguez of Dayseeker just as much as Russell. Anyone unfamiliar with Dayseeker is in for a treat as Rodriguez has both a splendid singing and screaming voice.
The track follows a formula of choruses and verses much like what most metalcore has to offer these days. However, Silent Planet breaks out of this mold a bit by allowing their music to flow with each part. Most bands that follow the verse chorus pattern simply copy and paste the same guitar parts for each section, but Silent Planet allow the instruments room to breathe and grow as they change with each iteration rather than simply rehashing previous riffs from the song.
Depths II is unlike anything else on the album, making for an intense closer. The track begins with percussion, piano, and Russell’s frantic spoken word. As the song progresses, subtle guitars and samples are slowly added to the point of almost making the atmosphere uncomfortable. Once the ambiance reaches it’s breaking point, everything falls silent for a moment as Russell harkens back to the original Depths (off “Come Wind, Come Weather”) as asks, “Lord, did you see me as I was dreaming?”. At this point, the full band joins the fray with a cacophony of distortion which builds to an ending that comes all too abruptly.
Overall: I have said all of this to inform you, the reader, that the answer to the question posed at the beginning of this review is “yes”. “The Night God Slept” is a mammoth of crushing atmosphere, passion, and truth which all come together to create one of the elite albums of 2014. The album is not without a few flaws such as instrumentals which could have been tacked onto songs to make way for more tracks or songs like Depths II ending prematurely just as things were getting epic.
The bottom line, however, is this album is phenomenal. All the waiting, teasing, and tempting the band has put us through was worth it. “The Night God Slept” is only the beginning for Silent Planet and with recent backing from Solid State look for this band to go places in 2015.
(Check out my review of “lastsleep” to see my thoughts on Tiny Hands, Darkstrand, and Wasteland)
RIYL: Oh, Sleeper | mewithoutYou | Underoath | Fallstar | I, of Helix | Dayseeker | Phinehas