|Musical Style: Heavy Metal||Produced By: Bill Menchen|
|Record Label: Retroactive||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 75%|
|Running Time: 29:36|
Titanic’s sophomore release Screaming In Silence, similar to fine wine, keeps getting better with age. All platitudes aside, the album, initially coming out on Retroactive Records in 2002, treaded the waters of traditional heavy metal, a direction similar to that taken on the group’s 1996 debut Maiden Voyage.
While I always considered Maiden Voyage in its original form thirty minutes of non-stop repetition, Screaming In Silence (in my opinion) proved the superior work with its more polished feel and greater sense of melody. As a matter of fact, when I first reviewed the album several years ago, I gave it a very respectable grade of 65%.
Maiden Voyage and Screaming In Silence were later re-issued in 2010 by Retroactive Records with new album artwork and Robert Sweet (Stryper) on drums. Both were re-mixed, re-mastered and partially re-recorded.
The upgrades as a result of the 2010 re-issues make all the difference in the world. Maiden Voyage, for example, literally comes to life – due to the re-mastering and drum performance – with songs now “full of energy and oozing with emotion while not forsaking hooks in the process” (a quote taken from my 80% review of the re-issue).
Screaming In Silence showcases similar improvements. The re-mastering, courtesy of J. Powell at Steinhaus, brightens things by upgrading a production that – while not all that bad to begin with – comes across crisper and cleaner while reflecting the greater separation of instrumentation. You can now actually discern the drums while the lead guitar stands out fluidly in the mix.
Robert Sweet, as one might expect, would prove an asset to whatever project he happens to record, particularly if said project originally used a drum machine (as such was the case with the 2002 version of Screaming In Silence). I do not think I need to go into a great deal of detail but to say that Robert breathes now life into the Titanic material would be sufficient. Just compare Robert’s performance here (and on Maiden Voyage) to the pedestrian drum sound on Stryper’s Murder By Pride to understand my point.
Lead guitar represents another standout area. Now, I have always been a fan of guitarist Bill Menchen’s playing, dating back to his Final Axe days from the late-eighties. What I appreciate about the re-issue is how the artist returned to the studio and recorded guitar solos (that were not there previously) for several choice tracks. His lead work, ranging from the bristling to the bluesy, ranks with some of his finest to date and helps make tracks such as “Hypnotic, “Time” and “As I Am” that much better.
So how does it all add up? As a result of the previously referenced upgrades in production and drum and lead guitar performance, I upped the final score of Screaming In Silence from 65% to 75%. At this point I am sure you are asking why Maiden Voyage received a grade 5% higher?
Well, beyond the fact that my opinion is the only one that matters (only kidding!), I feel the Maiden Voyage material is slightly stronger. If I were to invite a comparison, Maiden Voyage heads in the heavier direction while Screaming In Silence reflects a more melodic feel. Where the two diverse is that Maiden Voyage – with its all around heaviness – features the stronger chorus hooks. Not that Screaming In Silence lacks hooks (it by all means does not!) but if all things are equal I tend to gravitate towards the heavier release.
The only complaint to offer is the shortness of the Screaming In Silence material, an issue characteristic to many of Bill Menchen’s earlier efforts. Of the ten songs here, eight are in the three minute range or less and none come in at over four. As a result, a needed element of versatility is missing that a couple of tracks in the 4 or 5 minute range might have provided. Irregardless, despite the length of each individual track, you cannot complain about the all around quality of the songwriting.
Credit must also be given to vocalist Simon Tyler for his trademark “raspy” and “gruff” sensibilities. Now, while I might hesitate to label him the most technically proficient of vocalists, he complements the albums material - both its heavy and melodic – with a ton of attitude and charisma.
The metal anthem “And The Band Played On” gets things going. Driven its length by a militant – almost robotic – guitar riff, the song delivers a wallop as a result of its hard charging milieu and Tyler’s intense vocal delivery. This one is classic Bill Menchen all the way.
The same can be said for “Hypnotic”. What we have here is as no-nonsense a piece as you will find, a face melting slab of metal joining a dominant guitar presence with nothing less than a curtly delivered chorus. Menchen’s lead work, in contrast, heads in a bluesy direction.
The pace picks up with “Time”. While this is one of the albums shortest at just two and a half minutes, the song is certainly not lacking in energy with its frenetic tempo and Menchen’s lightning-like soloing abilities. A climactic setting is established in the process.
Straightforward hard rocker “As I Am” might not be the catchiest piece but serves up its share of guitar driven fortitude and angst laden vocals. More bristling leads can be found while Robert Sweet goes all out behind the drum kit.
“See Through My Eyes” maintains the caustic sensibilities. Driven, weighty and heavy as all get out, the song comes across sledgehammer-like in capacity while not abandoning the group’s penchant for solid melody structures. Again, several stretches of well placed soloing from Menchen.
“Carnival Of Souls” ranks with the albums fastest, a jagged edge track with a punch driven chorus (abundant hook here) and tempo of a relentless capacity. I cannot help but be reminded of old school Bride in the process.
“Broken Toys”, contrasting with a more mid-paced heading, is certainly not lacking in backbone with its massive riff action. The chorus - well placed and quite catchy – allows the song to hold up under repeated play in the face of the near overriding environs.
“Web Dreams” opens its first seconds calmly before a storm of guitar kicks in. At this point we are on, as the song proceeds to rage its brief (2:29) distance in hook driven fashion in featuring a forcefully delivered chorus and punch laden mentality. The end result is a compelling joining of the melodic and the heavy.
Strong and steadfast in proportion, “Questions” establishes a staunch environs with its muscular guitar mix but also proves listenable in reaching for (and obtaining) quite the proficient melody. All the while a slightly bluesy edge underpins things in the process.
The albums title track can be best described as curt and abrupt, an edgy three minutes of decisive metal that proves quintessential Titanic. The too the point chorus brings a solid hook while Menchen once more delights with a stretch of adept lead guitar.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "The Band Plays On" (3:01), "Hypnotic" (3:15), "Time" (2:33), "As I Am" (3:02), "See Through My Eyes" (3:48), "Carnival Of Souls" (2:50), "Broken Toys" (2:47), "Web Dreams" (2:29), "Questions" (2:44), "Screaming In Silence" (3:02)
Simon Tyler – Lead Vocals
Bill Menchen – Guitars
Ray Kilsdonk – Bass
Robert Sweet - Drums