|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Armand John Petri|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1989/2011||Artist Website: Bride|
|Tracks: 9||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 39:11|
Louisville, Kentucky based Bride are nothing if not persistent. There are not many bands that have faced as much adversity, yet made so many great albums within so many different styles of the metal and hard rock genres. Just consider the groups ever revolving line up of bassists and drummers not to mention the record labels it has drifted in and out of that are too numerous to mention. Sadly, it seemed that stardom was always around the next corner for Bride - its 1991 tour with Stryper was supposed to be the springboard to bigger and better things - but ultimately ended up just out of the reach of their fingertips.
Yes, variety has been one of Bride’s constants throughout the years. The group peaked with the bluesy hard rock of its early nineties material but spent the remainder of the decade in acoustic laced rock and modern rock territory- and pulled it off without a hitch. The eighties found Bride actually getting its start with the straight on metal with occasional Gothic and thrash overtones of its first two albums, Show No Mercy (1986) and Live To Die (1988). Silence Is Madness from 1989, however, proved groundbreaking by bridging the gap between the metal of Bride’s eighties releases and the hard rocking tendencies of the decade to follow.
While not the biggest fan of eighties era Bride, Silence Is Madness is by far my favorite of its three album output from the decade. Why? Well, it all comes down to the growth and maturity made by the group in terms of its songwriting. To put it bluntly, the album features some songs that are nothing less than killer.
Consider the hooks of melodic metal masterpiece “Fool Me Once” and equally masterful harder edges of “Under The Influence” and the albums dominant title track. “Evil Dreams”, “All Hollow’s Eve” and “No More Nightmares” are just plain awesome in delivering a dark traditional metal sound that hearkens back to Show No Mercy. The bluesy hard rock of “Hot Down South” and blues rock of “Rock Those Blues Away” help bridge that gap in question leading to the hard rocking direction Bride would soon take.
At this point it must be referenced the endless debate revolving around the best of the three eighties Bride albums. Many go with Live To Die, labeling it a “classic” or even a “monster album”. Those that have read my Live To Die review, however, know I beg to differ. In my opinion, it comes down to songwriting in that the Silence Is Madness deep cuts – think “Evil Dreams”, “All Hollow’s Eve” and “No More Nightmares” - trounce their Live To Die counterparts: “Here Comes The Bride”, “Live To Die” and “Fire And Brimstone”. It also meets it classic for classic in that “Under The Influence” and “Fool Me Once” are more than matches for “Hell No” and “Heroes”.
You also have to factor in performance, in that Silence Is Madness finds Dale Thompson continuing to stretch and grow in the vocal department. The album sees him backing off even more from the shrieks and falsettos that characterized his work on Show No Mercy and Live To Die. Not that I do not appreciate his high end approach, I felt his performance on Live To Die was brilliant, but Silence Is Madness introduces a more mid-ranged facet to his abilities. Now, do not get me wrong in that he can still cut loose with the best of them, such as on “Fool Me Once” and “No More Nightmares”, but all around he presents with a bit more even blend of a lower register and the high end.
Guitarist Steve Osborne departed Bride following Live To Die, allowing Troy Thompson to step to the forefront in terms of lead guitar duties. In terms of styles, Osborne was a pure shredder while Troy reflects a grittier and more blues based edge to his playing, as he displays on “Under The Influence” and, of course, “Rock Those Blues Away”.
Guest guitarist Rob Johnson was brought in to help out on lead guitar (on roughly half the albums tracks) and proves a very able replacement for Osborne on “Fool Me Once” and “Evil Dreams” with his fiery playing. Which begs the following question to be answered: Is this the same Rob Johnson of the Columbus, Ohio based progressive/power metal outfit Magnitude 9? I cannot help but notice a striking similarity in terms of the playing styles of the two.
The original Pure Metal release of Silence Is Madness is long out of print, as is the Millennium Eight from 2000 with eight bonus tracks. Early 2011 presents with a second re-issue on Retroactive Records, re-mastered and featuring detailed liner notes from Troy Thompson.
Production was solid though slightly raw for the late eighties era in which Silence Is Madness first came out. The re-mastering of the 2011 re-issue beefs things up, particularly the low end, which finds the bass and drums standing out in that much more of a pronounced manner. All around greater clarity and crisper feel as well.
Track By Track
“Fool Me Once” delivers the melodic metal goods: Melodic in terms of the forthright hook in its chorus but metal from the standpoint of the muscular guitar riff upholding its length. Rounding things out is a shred guitar solo. It all adds up to one of the more overlooked tracks in Bride’s repertoire. Lyric snippet:
All the gods have fallen
Grace trampled under feet
Stepping down, making lies
Lips speaking in deceit
Gods of silver, gods of gold
Donations sell your soul
They try to tell us what to do
They'll never take me for al fool
Religion, forgiven, paradise living
Dynasty, make-believe, spiritual fantasy
Bluesy metal would be the best way to describe “Hot Down South”. The pace tapers somewhat here, reflected in the songs plodding bass guitar driven verses. When impetus picks up, it is for an emotionally charged chorus carried by an energized rhythm guitar. This one would fit in nicely on Snakes In The Playground. Lyric snippet:
She gave the devil her soul now she's crying
Boodoo in Louisiana, she's dying
Lost her dreams, torture and screams
Broken promises he's lying
Clipped her wings now she's falling
She is deaf the Savior is calling
Satan won the bet, on his private jet
Good-bye to ballroom waltzing
It's hot down south tonight
The albums title track just plain dominates. The song starts in a manner similar to “Heroes” (from Live To Die) in that it also features a creepy voice over opening. But it is full on metal the rest of the way, not the catchiest of pieces but still certain to pull you in with the power to its delivery and no-nonsense chorus. Lyric snippet:
There is a town where no man walks
The streets are silent and the walls don't talk
Still in the past a ghost may wait
To open the door or close the gate
And though time has passed them by
A day will come when the secretes will die
Upon the mountain strong and high
In the darkness the mystery lies
Silence is madness
Silence is madness around the world
“Until The End We Rock” is my albums least favorite. Perhaps it is the cliché ridden title or simplistic song structure (at least in comparison to the better material here), but I have never managed to grow into this one- despite the passage of several decades. That said, there are those who embrace the song (the rhythm and passion to the vocals cannot be denied).
“Evil Dreams” proves a dark and haunting monster. It all starts with the chorus – punchy, terse and gripping at the same time - but inclusive of its swarthy underpinnings and occasional outbursts of bluesy guitar. I am even tolerant of the “rap interlude” at the halfway point (you have to hear it to believe it!). What we have here is a classic example of Bride songwriting at its best.
If I were to compile a list of my favorite Bride songs “Under The Influence” would be at or near the top. The song is classic eighties metal all the way, perseverant and forceful but not to the point of overbearing. Hook driven and deserving of radio play but not held back by any hints of the commercial either. This should have been a hit back in the day. Lyric snippet:
The sky grew black and like an engine humming
I could tell it was my time
I could hear the sound of my heart beat thumping
And the echoes in my mind
Just like the prophet spoke, babe it's not a joke
Don't take another sip of wine
You better leave the bottle
Cause it's coming full throttle
And it's going to mess with your mind
“All Hallows Eve” maintains the excellence. This one brings back some of the Live To Die thrash style elements, particularly during the songs bone crushing opening with its crescendo of pounding drums. Moving forward, we have another swarthy metal slab upheld by Dale’s ominous vocals and extended instrumental passage ending to a stretch of eerie choir-like vocals. If ever the music matches the song title this would be it. Lyric snippet:
This black day is a special one
Tric or treat the house of fun
Dress up, make up, costume delight
Poison kids until midnight
Little do they know, what it really means
Rip your heart out, at its very seams
This is the night, they all come to meet
To wager and practice, their mystical deceit
“No More Nightmares” picks up the pace to an underscoring bass line that just won’t quite. Intensely delivered during its verses as momentum builds, the song culminates for an ethereal chorus accented by keyboards on the portentous side of things. The angst laden lead guitar only adds to the foreboding scene. Lyric snippet:
The night is alive
It calls out your name
Say your prayer
To ease your pain
I try to hold on one more day
I pray the vision will fade away
So afraid to close my eyes
I don't want to die
No more nightmares
No more crime
“Rock Those Blues Way” closes things in blues rock fashion. No, not blues based hard rock but rather traditional blues with complementary doses of harmonica, big Gospel backing vocals and Hammond B3. And it works- put the song on any album by Glenn Kaiser Band and it would sound right at home. It would be cool to hear this one live.
I find the better Silence Is Madness material great. With the exception of one speed bump in “Until The End We Rock”, the album proves quite consistent and reflects a step forward songwriting wise from the groups Live To Die and Show No Mercy days. And as previously reinforced, it also helps bridge the gap between Bride’s eighties and nineties era- so it is a good combination of the old and new. The quality re-mastering only adds to the albums appeal.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Fool Me Once” (3:57), “Hot Down South Tonight” (3:10), “Silence Is Madness” (5:15), “Until The End We Rock” (3:10), “Evil Dreams” (4:04), “Under The Influence” (4:03), “All Hallow’s Eve” (5:10), “No More Nightmares” (4:12), “Rock Those Blues Away” (5:35)
Dale Thompson – Vocals
Troy Thompson – Guitars
Frankie Partipillo – Bass
Stephen Rolland – Drums
Rob Johnson – Guitars
John Caruso - Bass
Armand Jon Petri - Keyboards
Bill “Bolan” Scott – Harmonica