Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Deathlike Silence - Saturday Night Evil (2009)

Having a band name in common with the notorious Norwegian black metal label was probably ill-advised around the time that this Finnish Goth metal act was active, not because there is some ownership of the phrase, but rather that you'd just want to avoid the comparisons or mockery they might manifest from the underground that you're still tangentially a part of. Then again, it's appropriate enough for a group using horror themes, and in facts its those themes, the cinema poster style album cover and promise of some 'grave digger metal' that drew me to check this out. Could it evoke some 'Jack the Ripper'? Burke and Hair? From Hell? In fact the group tackles a pretty wide net of horror subjects including Lovecraft ("Dagon"), and of all things includes a Mike Oldfield cover ("Midnight Shadow"), so Saturday Night Evil at least had my attention up front...

Unfortunately, it wasn't able to HOLD that attention, because while the lyrics and artwork might try to capture the Gothic horror aesthetics, it's really just another of so many bands that sound like a less ambitious Nightwish, but without the hooks that made that group famous. The main focus here is on simple chugging patterns, glazed over with atmospheric synthesizers half-reminiscent of 80s AOR, and then the vocal charms of 'Ms. Maya', because in true gentlemanly British horror fashion, all of the band members go under a creepy 'Mr.' heaing...'Mr. Gehenna', 'Mr. Catafalque', 'Mr. Lethargy', that last one an all-too apt foreshadowing of his keyboard presence. Now, mind you, none of this stuff is really all that bad if you're just in the mood for un-challenging, inoffensive Gothic rock with chorus parts that quickly fade off and over the edge the memory hole. They also shift up the speed for a few numbers that feel more like power metal lite, and in those cases they let Maya flex a little, and Lethargy will throw in some organs or some more fun keyboard tones, sort of a Halloween-garbed alternative to what groups like Battle Beast have become.

Her vocals are actually nuanced and have a nice bite to them, they just aren't configured into the most memorable sequences, but I don't mind listening to her. Another strength here is the lead guitarist, Mr. Cerberos, who injects some cool shredding into a number of the tracks that instantly elevates them beyond what they probably deserve. The tracks are split between the straight forward Gothic four-note chug patterns in moderate to slower pace, and then a few of the more upbeat songs that I mentioned, but there is just too little to get excited for. Now I've hardly been a connoisseur of this style, there were certainly a few albums I enjoyed by bands like Theater of Tragedy, Nightwish or Elis at one point in time, but I felt like it got too commonplace and an album like this is a symptom of such trendiness. The best I can say is that Deathlike Silence is professional-sounding, the singing is decent, the leads skilled, the lyrics passable, and the production is obviously very polished and presentable. It's not unpleasant...but that's the rub, this is HORROR metal, it's supposed to give me something unpleasant or unnerving...and these stock riffs, insipid chorus parts and the 'safety' of the whole thing really leaves me underwhelmed and unafraid.

Verdict: Fail [4.5/10]

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