It takes a lot of courage to run screaming away from your comfort zone and do something different. If done with care, you can change the course of the art you make for the better, discovering new things about yourself. This seems to be the case with the new album from Silver Snakes – Death and The Moon (Evil Ink Records). Silver Snakes broke on the scene as a progressive modern metal band with a lot of accolades. They hinted at a dynamic shift in style with the Scathe EP of industrial metal covers but now have fully gone over to the dark side, in the best way. By going back to formula and totally reinventing the essence of the band, Silver Snakes have taken a level of risk few established bands would ever consider.
Right from the initial keyboards and beats of the lead track ‘Smoke Dance’, you knew this was a different Silver Snakes. Guitars to the back and other instrumentation comes to the fore in frontman Alex Estrada’s new musical oeuvre. Slowly building in its urgency, it’s mood increasingly dire with each layer of guitar or hammering beat. Second track ‘Worship’ is tight and to the point, but a fine form of classic sounding industrial music.
Influenced by the best bits of The Downward Spiral, With Teeth and Year Zero eras of Nine Inch Nails, but with the vulnerable, righteous rage also calling to mind the great Ministry and Stabbing Westward too, Estrada seems to be dropping bombs in each song. Firing shots at people and societal issues that wound him, no target is safe from his ire, but also himself. The “no sense makes sense” confusion and terror matched with the disgust in some of the lyrics definitely add to the discomfort felt from the tracks.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. ‘Tesserae’ is buoyant and driving except for an ending coda section to cool down from going hard on the dance floor. Meanwhile tracks like ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Mescaline’ feel very “LA” to my ears: brooding and full of drama. ‘Black Fire’ has that title track feeling with the possibly rhetorical question “why you can’t stop death and the moon from rising”.
Other tracks also surprise, such as the White Pony-feeling duet of ‘Lavender’, with an ounce of trip-hop Michelle Malley’s gripping vocals weaving back and forth with Alex’s deeper tones. Closing track ‘Gone Is Gone’ is one last fiery salvo aimed at your dome. It ends with a wash of sound, not unlike a spacecraft burning up on reentry, a fitting metaphor for the emotional weight of this entire album. Definitely a vibe I want to hear live and a mode I’d like to see explored more in the future.
Playing it safe has never worked for Silver Snakes, and Death and The Moon proves they are not about to start.
8 / 10