There’s a lot to like about Silver Talon, not the least of which is that the band manages to get the most out of its three guitarists. And while the Portland, Oregon-based band may have once been more of a tribute act, it stands on its own twelve feet here on its first full-length, Decadence and Decay.
Decadence and Decay finds Silver Talon maturing where it counts, in its songwriting. Unlike the charming but less memorable Becoming a Demon, Decadence and Decay feels like more of a statement of both independence and arrival. Independence in that the band sounds unbound, married not to a particular sound or strain but to songcraft. Arrival in that this release exudes the kind of confidence one might hear much deeper in a band’s discography.
No knock on Loomis, but the degree of rich, tasteful noodling here gives the album a noticeably more progressive and techy feel than most anything one could find on a Nevermore album. And that feel isn’t limited to a song or two. In fact, that feel so colors the album’s eight songs that it becomes part of its aesthetic. From the near-endless layering of opener “Deceiver, I Am” to the cinematic closing track, “Touch the Void,” Decadence and Decay does not lack in detail. Yet it rarely falls victim to its own ambition. The noodly bits generally serve the songs. No one would think twice, for instance, about Andy La Rocque’s (King Diamond) appearance on “Resistance 2029” if it didn’t feel so La Rocquean.
Undoubtedly, there’s some Nevermore-like chug and Wyatt Howell sounds even more like Warrel Dane than Dane’s successor in Sanctuary, Joseph Michael (Witherfall). But these superficialities cave decisively to the progressive touches. And absent from Decadence and Decay are the very Dane-like, double-edged sword ballads (“The Heart Collector,” “The Lotus Eaters”) that could serve as a welcome break from the chug but just as often felt laid on a little thick. Instead, Silver Talon revels in playing with pacing within songs to create the epic feel of “Touch the Void” and “Next to the Sun.”
Despite the obvious influence, Silver Talon’s calling card ought not be as gap-filler to a retired band but rather as a band as unique as the one to which it is often compared. One would be hard-pressed to find this blend of modern rhythm guitar, neoclassic leads, and proggy synth anywhere else. And despite sounding eerily Dane-like at times, Howell is a perfect fit for the band’s diverse sound with an impressive range that captures the many emotions these songs evoke.
The polish of Decadence and Decay is remarkable. Given all that Silver Talon throws at the listener, the album’s 46 odd minutes could have been a disaster. And no one could blame the band if that had been the case—that much ambition on a debut, while admirable, is often messily executed. Not so here. The Zack Ohren production doesn’t hurt, but it’s the songwriting that sells the polish. The memorable choruses, threading of cool riffs, and incorporation of synth and other progressive elements keep the songs varied and identifiable. The way that the neat little keys open “As the World Burns” and build into the chorus exemplifies that polished feel. Greater than the sum of its parts, the album sounds confidently constructed.
In its relative infancy, Silver Talon has written and recorded an album most established bands with storied careers would be lucky to call their own. Decadence and Decay is must-own material for guitar-heavy metal fans and sure to be, if not the strongest, one of the year’s stronger USPM albums.