Continuing their trend of three year gaps between albums, Holland's Silhouette return with their third full-length, and their second for Progress Records. Eschewing the conceptual underpinnings of its predecessor, 'Moods', 'Across the Rubicon' has a suite of tracks that are still loosely bound by a thematic concept, so the album still has a unifying feel with many of the lyrics dealing with "dramatic choices from which there is no return". Seems they couldn't bring themselves to completely abandon the conceptual cliché characteristic of so many prog bands!
'Across the Rubicon', while pertaining to classic prog rock idioms, somehow manages to sound fairly contemporary at the same time - I guess a contemporary take on classic prog rock if you will. With a mood-driven impetus, Silhouette's music is rich with emotions. They've injected their compositions with all kinds of affective depth through layered guitars and keyboards that meander between melancholically dark and more uplifting sonics, and everything in between. There are many synth-heavy passages on the record which will perhaps not be entirely to the taste of the guitar-centric prog fans out there but it never feels like a gratuitous use of synths, rather they often carry and create the moods of the songs with guitars and bass deployed to add to and make emphatic a particular mood that's already there.
Vocally, the album also shines. With three members of this Dutch quartet contributing lead and backing vocals, it's not always the polyvocal effort that one might expect as guitarist Brian de Graeve, keyboardist Erik Laan and drummer Jos Uffing have similar voices with clear, smooth tones in their respective deliveries. However, the compatibility and similarity of their vocals works a treat, particularly with some of the harmonies they sing with some well-constructed melodies. It's predominantly Brian and Jos who assume lead vocal duties with Erik only taking centre stage on one track, 'Breathe', and I have to say that Brian probably edges it for me in terms of my own preference as his range seems just that little bit wider and thus he's able to communicate a greater depth of emotion.
All in all, 'Across the Rubicon' is a great sounding record that's well produced/mixed and Silhouette have undoubtedly progressed as a band with a well-rounded effort that displays a greater maturity in songwriting than on 'Moods'. If they continue to progress along these lines then they'll no doubt become a force to be reckoned with within the neo-prog scene.
ACROSS THE RUBICON
Review by Mark Holmes
28th June 2012
1) Across the Rubicon
3) Empty Places
4) When Snow's Falling Down
6) Grendel Memories
8) Don't Stop the Movie
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"If they continue to progress along these lines then they'll no doubt become a force to be reckoned with within the neo-prog scene."