Footsteps cross the floor. Keys are discarded on the table. A bottle is opened and a swig is drawn. An unassuming intro to a powerful opening track. The sudden hammer of vocals comes hard and fast, with a defining drum beat to back them. ‘This Cannot Die’ kicks off strong from the get-go and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Jan Nicholas Bloom’s vocal tone echoes that of The Butterfly Effect’s Clint Boge, but, while this isn’t where the similarities end between the Queensland contemporaries, The Silencio stand apart with their bold use of acoustic guitars in place of their electric counterpart. This brings new life to a classic heavy prog sound that is not soon forgotten. A brief piano interlude towards the end of the track seems almost out of place, but serves the outro well.
The harmonised guitars that open ‘I Blame Myself’ quicken the pace, firing rapidly between unembellished drum-heavy verses. The startling addition of a single repeated synth note cuts through the bridge like a hot knife through butter. ‘Been There All Along’ carries a seemingly political feel to the lyrics, with the line, ‘they want you to look the other way, but they should keep your doubts at bay’ ringing familiar regarding any position of power. The ‘whoa’ chant that fills the chorus has been pulled off so effectively that it gives an almost live feel to the track. Setting aside the heavier feel, the bridge briefly swims with light drum beats and the falsetto vocal line is complemented with another smattering of piano.
Rolling, almost thunderous drums spill into the title track, ‘Anathema’. That, along with the addition of female vocals to the chorus was not enough, though, to engage me and I wasn’t able to connect with this track. ‘Done With You’ invites you in with an organ sound that is almost reminiscent of carnivals in old horror movies, before diving headfirst into conflict. The tattered remains of a toxic friendship fade into the lyrical ether as the protagonist walks away from the wreckage. The vocals of ‘Young Lion’ seem to me to be disconnected, not quite fitting at any point, except maybe the chorus. The song didn’t grab me at all.
The piano intro to ‘Lift Your Spirits’ leads the charge, opening up to a crowd chanting in unison – “Lift your spirits! Sing out loud!” – followed by rowdy cheering before the verse kicks in. The track finishes out with a great classic rock-style guitar solo that wraps it up nicely. ‘To Kill For’ is another track with a beautiful piano introduction. While I expected a heavier launch after the piano, I was met with a more mid-range track that I feel fits in well this far into the record. The piano-vs-drums bridge in this one is haunting.
Comparatively stripped back, ‘Immunity’ has a beautiful sound, featuring only acoustic guitar for the first minute and a half before the drums roll in. Joined by a string section at the midway point, this track has been carefully layered and suits the tail end of the record well. The closing track is, as its title states, ‘So Fucking Beautiful’. A lament on the futility of life, its execution is unflinching. The despair is evident, but at no point unnerving. A fitting end to the album.
Overall, the record’s strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. Having not heard The Silencio before this album, I have definitely become a fan. This is a band that has a unique and uncompromising sound that will last them for the duration.