Some countries are known for their consistent metal output. The Finns have a knack for extraordinary atmosphere, Swedish bands are often easy to pick out of a crowd, and the Germans have more of a keyboard-less classic vibe. What about the Italians? Once upon a time I would have said unceasing double-bass and a horrible reputation for being incomprehensible, but no more. Silver Lake is another young Italian band that has left an impression upon me, and continues to dispel a number of my pre-conceived notions for norms from their country.
I've seen this labeled as everything from AOR to progressive power metal, but I feel that this is pretty clearly classifiable as melodic progressive metal (leaning a little on the soft side of things). Definitely European in feel and with a distinct emphasis upon vocal melodies, Silver Lake manage to out and out avoid the technical obfuscation in their music that tends to scare so many listeners away from the genre. As such, this is relatively accessible to not only fans of somewhat proggy bands like Labyrinth and Seventh Wonder, but also those more interested in heavy, power, or other pursuits. Progressive metal is not an easy field to get yourself started in, but I say that Silver Lake is doing it pretty well with this, their self-titled debut.
Silver Lake seamlessly blends lush piano lines, moderately complex arrangements, and beautiful vocal melodies into attractive songs that are lasting and memorable. There are a couple of guests present on this album, one of whom is my very favorite Italian vocalist, the one and only Michele Luppi (Vision Divine, Killing Touch). Luppi's contribution is relatively small, but unlike some debut guest-work, he supplements the ample talent that is present rather than overriding it with his own glory (which is considerable). “Life” features Michele as lead vocalist and is one of the best tunes as a result. I actually rather liked their cover of Skid Row's “Slave to the Grind” as well, finding it tasteful and rather cleaned-up.
Most of Silver Lake straddles the line a bit between metal and rock, but if it's this good, who am I to split hairs? This is probably the best new progressive metal cd I've heard in terms of songwriting prowess and overall agreeableness since Darkwater's Where Stories End (and that was a very fine album). This is my kind of prog metal: sweet, serene and mellow, but able to tear things up with a well-executed shred and passionate chorus when the time is right. I'll recommend this to most anyone who has even a small taste for it. 7Hard has another gem on its hands with this one, a marvelous debut effort!
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The Protagonist's Rating: 8.0 out of 10