Silent Resentment – Death Is Utopia
Reviewed by Sebastian Kluth
By now readers should know about my addiction to exotic metal bands from all around the world, and today I would like to introduce you to a group called Silent Resentment. The four men on guitars, bass, and drums, and the two women on keyboards and vocals come from the People’s Republic of China’s capital, Beijing, and formed towards the end of the last decade. Some of them have adapted a stylish artistic name, although the choices of the two women (who call themselves “White Rose” and “Libido”) rather manage to put a smile on my face instead of having much to do with what they represent musically. This band has decided to play gothic metal with European trademarks. Let’s point out that there is almost no such a thing as a gothic culture in China. The only country that has something similar is Japan, with its very own Visual Kei style. This lack of gothic culture leads to the fact that many Eastern Asian gothic bands look somewhat stereotypically European-flavored and seem to exaggerate on their style and their lyrics. Silent Resentment could almost be called a pioneer band for this genre in their country, and one shouldn’t underestimate this fact. A look on the band’s clothes and make-up, their album artwork, and their lyrics shows us that Silent Resentment doesn’t look all that bad and can mess with their European idols without looking all too silly.
Silent Resentment’s record is quite a mixed bag for me. The band isn’t called Silent Resentment for nothing: their approach to the gothic genre is rather calm and laid back. A great example of this is the title song “Death Is Utopia”. It is a very minimalistic track that focuses on soft vocals, and slowly drifts towards calm background noises that could come from a medieval village in Europe. There are even a few traditional folk melodies towards the ambient closure of the track. This kind of song could easily be inspired by, or be part of a game or movie soundtrack about a medieval story. Fans of games like “Gothic” or “Skyrim” could like this for example. Another calm track that works very well on the album is “Purple Scar”. It has great piano melodies and very laid back female vocals. In comparison to the stereotypical dark image of the gothic scene, this track sounds appeasing and truly positive. It includes a few more folk and neoclassical elements, but avoids coming across as derivative. This song is sunshine to your ears.
The problem with some of the songs on this album is that they end up being too unspectacular as they drag on for far too long. “Kiss Your Blood Out” lacks pace and variation, “After Forever” sounds somewhat unmotivated from a vocal point of view, and “The Little Mermaid” is a sleepy lullaby that has some charm, but doesn’t fit on a gothic metal release, but rather on a “Teletubbies” soundtrack in my opinion. And I really hate “Teletubbies” – this track is too fluffy. “The Bible Of Love” has a few good elements in the form of melancholic violin samples and slow paced male gothic death metal growls, but the rest is quite redundant and trivial after a while as well.
Thank God there are also a couple of more energizing songs on here. Opener “Der Tanz der Totengräber” is a mystic but classic gothic metal track with high pitched and gracious female vocals, opposed by a few mean male growls. The concept works well even, if the song could have been shortened by a minute and a half. The band employs German lyrics for this track, and despite a few grammatical mistakes here and there, the language is overall very poetic and beautiful. The band really seems to have a sense for German culture, and that’s not something one sees that often in China. I almost feel personally honored! Another vivid track on the album is “Gothic Era”, and from what I understand, the lyrics seem to be both in English and in German – but it’s hard to understand everything due to the mediocre production and the strong accents of the singers. The female vocals are a little bit out of tune on this song, but it has a refreshing pace and includes another good take on the charming “beauty and the beast” vocal style. The closing track (apart of two more or less useful demo tracks at the end) “Face The Darkness In Your Heart” is probably the catchiest and most accessible song on the album apart from the opener. If these guys were American, it would have probably been their radio single to grab some cash. The song has something like commercial pop hooks performed by female vocals while the growls create a great contrast and sound harsher and more emotional than usual. This song sounds like a mixture of Elis and Orphanage to me, but could also appeal to Mortemia fans. On the whole, it ends the album on a satisfying note to me.
Let’s list up the negative and positive elements again. On the bad side, we have a number of repetitive song structures and redundant ideas. Some songs are overlong without having much going on. The calm atmosphere of the record is a somewhat original approach, but it’s sometimes too well-behaved for its own good. I would have expected something more vivid from a gothic metal band. Let’s add the bad production to the negative elements and the weak guitar work. The riffs aren’t creative at all, there are no passionate solos on the album, and the songs are almost only carried by the keyboards and vocals. On the positive side, the classic combination of melodic female vocals and harsh male vocals often works well for this band. The keyboard work is also very well done. The calm tracks show us a different and rather welcome approach to the genre. The vivid songs can also convince and create a welcoming contrast. The lyrics, band member outfits, and the album artwork are also positive elements.
My final verdict is that fans of similarly appealing symphonic and gothic metal music should definitely give this album a few spins, as it has a certain charm. True gothic fans might find the record too fluffy and instable to convince at all times, and should look instead to several interesting Taiwanese gothic or symphonic metal bands like Crescent Lament, Frost Tears, Nocturne Moonrise and Seraphim. I really adore China and don’t want to offend any of its metalheads, but when it comes to gothic and symphonic metal bands, one must admit that the beautiful island of Taiwan is clearly ahead of the mainland.
3 // 5