Released: 2006, Mediaskare Entertainment
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Some readers might remember the name Jonny Santos from nu-metal stalwarts Spineshank. That band fizzled out after three albums (and a Grammy nomination) but Santos left in search of playing a heavier, faster brand of metal (cue Dez Fafara’s similar jump from Coal Chamber to Devildriver). The result is Silent Civilian and its debut, REBIRTH OF THE TEMPLE. Spineshank was C-grade nu-metal, so expectations were low going into REBIRTH OF THE TEMPLE but the album is ballsier and more melodic than expected. At its root is metalcore (of course!) but Santos (also on guitar now) and Tim Mankowski deliver some excellent solos and riffs in the vein of God Forbid that are mixed with the hooks of barely-metal bands like Trivium, Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold. At their worst, Santos’ screamed vocals elicit visions of nu-metal atrocities like Drowning Pool and, of course, Spineshank but he does possess the ability to carry a tune with his Matt Heafy-like clean vocals. While Santos’ desire to break free from the clichés of nu-metal is commendable, he has unfortunately ventured into the equally crowded (and clichéd) society of metalcore. REBIRTH OF THE TEMPLE is a solid album but suffers from a lot of redundancy and lacks anything special to set it apart from the rest of the metalcore juggernaut.
The epic, tribal feel of the instrumental (does every metalcore album have to open with one of these?!?!) “Call To Arms” launches into “Funeral,” with its speedy double-bass-infused rhythms and slick, catchy chorus. “The Song Remains Un-Named” exudes all the riff-tastic charm of Killswitch Engage and God Forbid but Santos clean vocals in the chorus shout “PLEASE PLAY ME ON MTV!”. The same can be said of the Killswitch-esque title track, “Blood Red Sky” and several others. They simply smack of desperation to breakout. “Divided” features a good mix of tight, punchy riffs and melodic passages as does “Falling Down.” “Force Fed” is the album’s heaviest track with pummeling drums from Chris Mora, a torrent of riffs from Santos and ear-catching vocals. This balance of heavy and melodic would be better suited in more places on REBIRTH OF THE TEMPLE because it breaks up the familiarity and “didn’t they just play that riff?” feeling that punctuates many of the songs. The first half of the album solidifies what Silent Civilian is shooting for and dutifully captures their modus operandi but by the midway point, tedium begins to set in. The band clearly has a limited number of tricks up its sleeve and sadly joins the status quo to ride things out. The ferocity of the music is never lost but at 65 minutes in length, it can be an arduous slog through to get to the end.
REBIRTH OF THE TEMPLE is a none-too-subtle grab at the North American metalcore market. All the elements and clichés are in place but that is exactly what sinks what could have been a much stronger album. Songs that go on far too long and its overall length hamper the album and behind it all, Santos plays it safe from beginning to end. As a reviewer and fan of the genre, I could predict almost every riff, bridge, breakdown and chorus before it came. It is almost as if Santos listened to all the big metalcore albums of the last four years and formatted his own songs around them because there is absolutely nothing new, interesting or original to be found here. The riffs envelop in all the right spots, the rhythm section hammers through your skull and nearly every song is as catchy as all get-out and ripe for MTV airplay and Ozzfest exposure, so for those less-discriminating fans seeking a mindless trip through the tried-and-true metalcore playbook, look no further than Silent Civilian.
KILLER KUTS: “Rebirth of The Temple,” “Divided,” “Force Fed,” “Falling Down”