As much as the packaging of an album is an integral part of the experience, there are times, particularly when dealing with a band you’ve not heard before, when it’s good to receive a ‘white label’ copy as it presents the music stripped of overblown imagery and preconceived notions meaning that the music has to stand (or fall) on its own two feet. In the case of Silas and their ‘world of colour’ mini-album, the music very much stands with the band incorporating a number of eclectic, and often surprising, elements into their music to create a sound that is unsurprisingly receiving attention.
Having been active since 2008 and also having had the chance to play a coveted slot on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock 2010, Silas have clearly been honing their not inconsiderable skills and this six-track mini-album offers plenty of reasons to as to why Silas deserve to pick up new listeners a-plenty with this offering. Slickly produced, ‘world of colour’ opens up with the funky ‘Cause and effect’ which mixes up grinding Godsmack-meets-Pantera guitars, soulful vocals occasionally turning death-metal grunts and powerhouse percussion for a track that over the course of four minutes twists and turns so often you lose track of where you started. Despite the track’s highly changeable nature, however, it is not fickle to the point of distraction, and it is notable that the almighty groove incorporated into the opening riff is maintained in various shades of light and dark throughout. ‘Set to fail’ operates in a similar vein, Dave Runham’s lead vocals proving to be the star of the show, his ability to move between a smooth, Eddie Vedder baritone and a grittier, more brutal style being the band’s secret weapon, whilst the backing harmonies of Mike and Tom Ross add depth and colour to the sound. The guitars, meanwhile, have a powerful tone and it is interesting to note that Mike and Tom Ross also swap between guitar and drum duties, which undoubtedly makes for an interesting live performance. ‘What we see’ is a down-tuned belter with grinding guitars set against the rock solid backbone of Matt Drumm’s driving bass sound. There’s a huge amount going on in the song, the chorus in particular mixing up Pantera, trivium and alice in chains to fascinating, and unique, effect. Like the majority of the songs on this record you’ll hear a number of familiar reference points, but mixed up and jumbled in a way that is gleefully unique to Silas, a band whose record collection is probably not dissimilar to a small branch of HMV in both size and variety.
For those seeking heavier pleasures, ‘Journey to end’ is one of the album’s heavier cuts, which, although maintaining a good deal of melody, has a raging riff backing up screamed vocals which do a good job of reminding the listener why Silas are firmly within the metal category, some of Dave’s more energetic screams recalling Phil Anselmo’s work on ‘vulgar display…’ whilst a fluid guitar solo marks out the band’s broad interests in everything from searing metal to classic rock. It’s an awe-inspiring track that offers up a number of tempo changes and sonic shifts, but which overall is destined to bang heads in the mosh pit. ‘Art of the cure’ is infused both with the screaming spirit of heavy metal and the soul of jazz and funk, the percussive shifts executed with exacting precision and the heavy guitars of the chorus matched up to some stunning harmonies that marry up guttural screams and a great sense of melody – no mean feat. Final track, ‘negative one’, closes this brief but deeply promising album on a powerful note, the band’s boundless imagination sending the song spinning off in a soulful direction before reigning it back in with a riff made of pure steel for the chorus.
‘World of colour’ is an apt metaphor for the music that lies within this six-track mini-album. There is so much going on that the listener is constantly challenged and forced to re-evaluate the band as you listen. There is power, passion, and exemplary musicianship throughout, whilst reference points fly past so thick and fast you’re head pressed to remember them all let alone note them down. Such genre-hopping is not always a positive thing, but Silas have cleverly worked their music in such a way that the compositions maintain their essential cohesion despite the unusual paths they frequently tread. Whilst fans of more extreme metal may find the band’s tendency to soften the verses frustrating, those with a love of melody and of bands inclined to take the path less trod will find much to admire on this record and it certainly promises big things for the future. ‘World of colour’ is well worth exploring.