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It's been nearly eight years since Violent Silence's last studio album. However, following a period of inactivity so long I'd actually believed the band defunct, the Swedes are now back with a new full-length effort in the form of 'A Broken Truce'. You know you're dealing with a prog band when they deliver an album of only four tracks but well over forty minutes in length - the shortest song clocks in at just over ten minutes and the longest, around quarter of an hour. However, clichéd song lengths aside, Violent Silence are not your general orthodox prog band. It could be argued that no prog band should adhere to any orthodox principles by the very definition of the word progressive, although we all know that there's a difference between those who succumb to generic prog traits and the rarer few who actually seek to progress something. Violent Silence most definitely fall within the latter category through the very fact that they eschew the prog genre's tradition of guitars and, instead, use two keyboardists. That's what made their last album, 2005's 'Kinetic', so refreshing and exciting. On paper, and on the surface, a guitar lack would seem to be an inexplicable absence. After all, why limit yourselves instrumentally as a band? However, it's that very limitation that evidently forces Violent Silence to approach the compositional process and songs' actual arrangements from a different perspective so I'm guessing the real challenge is in filling out their sound to the point (and at the right points) where an absence of guitar/s isn't noticeable in any way. They succeeded at doing this on 'Kinetic' and have succeeded once again. A variety of keyboard sounds and some skilled playing overlay an innovative rhythm section where drums and fretless bass are at the forefront in the compositions as much as keys are. It's remarkable stuff - drum fills are posited in unlikely places to achieve a little more aggression here and there (yep, drums, played this well, can engender emotion in a band's music too). Another band would simply bring in heavily distorted guitars or maybe some growled vocals to attain an aggressive element. Not so for Violent Silence. They work with what they have. Or, rather, they work with what elements they've chosen to have and know exactly how to combine each of them in the instrumentations to reflect a whole array of emotions. So just who constitutes the band these days? Original sticksman Johan Hedman remains behind the kit and also contributes some keys, Hannes Ljunghall and Björn Westén have returned to contribute keys while newcomers Anders Lindskog on bass and vocalist Martin Ahlquist bring their respective talents to the fold. And what a voice Ahlquist has - a more than worthy replacement for Bruno Edling (and, dare I say, better). Their combined talents have created something rather special and an album that warrants repeated listens as there are so many affective depths to the songs that you'll get something different from the listening experience on each new listen. At least, that's how I perceive it. Let's just hope it won't be another eight years before the next one! For now, though, let's all revel in the might of 'A Broken Truce', an exercise in refined prog virtuosity.
Progress Records
Review by Mark Holmes
27th August 2013
1) A Prism Path
2) Rim of Clouds
3) The Kingdom Below
4) A Broken Truce
"...an exercise in refined prog virtuosity."