Stilverlight – Stilverlight
Stilverlight – Stilverlight (2014)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
PowerProg Records (an uninspired, perhaps, but very accurate label) has done an admirable job since its inception of bringing a great number of talented, lesser-known acts to prominence. Latest among these is a surprise from Russia that goes by the name of Stilverlight, a threesome from St. Petersburg (with a number of session musicians) that deliver what I find to be a fairly fresh dose of uptempo and exciting power metal in a similar channel to the ferocious grandeur of Kiuas. Think a vocal approach similar at times to Jens Carlsson of Persuader, but with a more straightforward, yet still heavy and relentless musical delivery.
Stilverlight’s path is so interesting for me on account of a number of factors. There’s the aforementioned rough-shod vocals, combined with some guitar tone and blastbeats that remind of Kiuas or maybe newer Dark At Dawn, but some of the vocal layering and melodies also remind me of contemporary (and maybe more refined) Germanic greats like Solar Fragment and Orden Ogan. Listening to a song like “Fragile Lie”, it’s very easy to compare Stilverlight’s texture to Orden Ogan for anyone who knows that band. Dramatic if subtle orchestration and more simplistic melodic lead guitar work are hallmarks of this sound. Stilverlight definitely doesn’t have the technically heavy, rhythmic chug of Orden Ogan or the relentless assault of Kiuas, but blends aspects of both with a more moderate approach at times – perhaps reminiscent of Silverlane – another gruff-vocal fronted act hailing from Germany.
What really might be most remarkable about Stilverlight is its success hailing from a country like Russia – a nation that produces more half-baked power metal albums than almost anywhere on earth. Typical Russian hallmarks include badly broken English, a lot of Cyrillic (which seriously, no one else can decipher), typically poor, unsigned production, and a general “flimsy” sort of feel to the music. Stilverlight has absolutely none of these qualities and, though they may not satisfy those that hunger for beefy riffs, more accomplished vocal work, and consistently diverse songwriting, this is an extremely strong debut that’s well worth your time.
Droves of melodies overwhelm my senses when playing through this album. “A New Day Will Come” and the more complicated “Show Me The Miracle” stand out as highlights, and the ripping opener of “Bring The Flame” has just enough of a lurking feeling of clouded danger and secrecy to make me feel that this band has, at times, something truly special going on behind the scenes that it just hasn’t quite realized yet. Lead vocalist Maxim Palanin’s voice definitely has enough power, but a bit more stability and control would go a long way toward improving the group’s next effort. He also has an abrasive tone when he holds some of his higher, rougher notes – imagine Piet Sielck or Jens Carlsson, but with an extra edge that some might find tiring or irritating. While I wouldn’t say that this album quite suffers from its songs getting muddied together, there are some portions that are particularly bland, formulaic, and unexciting. Stilverlight is definitely the most exciting when it is heavy and the guitars are very active.
This is a remarkable debut, and an impressive album by my estimation. I want to buy this and get some more quality time in on a better sound system, because there are some neck-snapping tracks kicking around. Stilverlight is an excellent release for those interested in any of the sound combinations that I’ve compared this to, and a good investment for any Euro-power fans looking for something a bit more heavy, textured, and vigorous.
3.75 // 5