Age of Silence - Acceleration
The End Records
Progressive Avantgarde Bizarro Metal
10 songs (45'11")
Release year: 2004
The End Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Norwegian metal scene may seem like a one big neighborhood playground. Let me explain. If you lived in a community with lots of kids of the same age, on a weekly basis everybody gathers to play sports in a given place. All players who showed up split randomly in teams and start kicking around the soccer ball, throwing the football, etc. Next week the process repeats itself, the teams being completely different, but made up of the same players. The game never suffers, because of players’ mutual knowledge and friendship.

Same with Norwegian metal bands. Borknagar, Enslaved, Emperor, Khold, Mayhem, Ulver, Arcturus, Solefald, Winds, Green Carnation, Carpathian Forest, Spiral Architect, Covenant seem to be sharing musicians all the time, yet the forward movement is always on, metal and otherwise music unstoppable in its development. I could have missed some names, but surely you get the picture.

Age of Silence is the latest Norwegian metal team that large playground has spawned onto the scene. Guitar players Kobbergaard and Extant unknown to me, the rest of the band features very much the usual suspects: Lazare on vocals (Borkanagar, Solefald), Andy Winter on keyboards (Winds), Eikind, aka Lars Eric Si on bass (Khold, Winds) and ever present Hellhammer, aka Jan Axel von Blomberg on drums (you are on the wrong site if you can’t name at least one band he has played on).

Not entirely a concept album, but a collection of song tied together by the same theme of single human struggles in the modern world of glass, concrete, corporate greed and senselessness, Age of Silence debut Acceleration is anything but a straightforward listen. In fact, thinking of a Style to classify this under the best I could come up was Bizarro Metal. Would the band agree? I don’t know, but if you think Arcturus La Masquerade Infernale was one of the greatest albums from the previous decade you need to hear this music.

Age of Silence has two stars pushed out front – Andy Winter with his piano and keyboards and Lazare’s vocals. Occasional acoustics or ominous riffing (The Flow at 09:30am) aside, guitars on Acceleration provide a rough fuzzed out background that makes the whole listening an edgy experience. Intricate and progressive, yet almost never coming into focus, guitars are a solid framework against which Acceleration is drawn up. Hellhammer on drums is just as percussive as he is in Winds, his off beat vs. guitars on Of Concrete and Glass simply superb. Periodically, however, he fuels the band with his double bass fury (title track, Synthetic, Fabricated, Calculated). Such outbursts, as well as the whole music tone being gruff make Acceleration very different than Winds.

Back to the stars of the show. We will just have to admit that Andy Winter is the best pianist in the metal world today. Not from the way he plays the instrument (and he can play it), but from the way he makes the rest of the music embrace his ivory. Age of Silence features long piano runs, over aggressive guitar grind and double bass, as in the title track, or completely dominating the music. Not a chamber ensemble this time around Andy goes for synthesizer at times, twisting it in a solar plexus with guitar solo (The Green Office and the Dark Desk Drawer), or being completely spacey (900 Angles). Vocals and piano are two voices of Age of Silence alternatively carrying the flow and melodic pattern for the songs.

Lazare’s vocals, however, is my only sticking point with the album. Just like Solefald’s In Harmonia Universali I am still not buying it. Not as nasal this time around, his clean singing has no range, but insists on stretching every note. His voice can caress and fit the fold (The Concept of Haste, The Flow at 09:30am), but it is also what makes listening to Acceleration so tiring. Lazare’s lyrics are brilliant, but singing, he is clearly no Garm, and it is him this music needs.

In the end, bizarro orchestra that is Age of Silence works many more times than it doesn’t. This is a very deep album you will need to hear many times before you can grasp the picture. As you can guess from my review, describing something so complicated wasn’t easy, but I tried. Unlike Winds, which is soothing, I find Acceleration extremely unnerving, it makes me anxious and jittery, probably the way musicians intended it.

P.S. Everybody needs to hear the opening of 900 Angles, probably the best layered polyphony this year, with the song starting as radio static, adding, in order, acoustic guitar and percussion, keyboards, and eventually energetic electric guitar grind and voice. Simply brilliant!

Killing Songs :
Auditorium of Modern Movements, Acceleration, The Flow at 09:30am, Of Concrete and Glass, 90 Angles
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Age of Silence that we have reviewed:
Age of Silence - Complications - Trilogy of Intricacy reviewed by Alex and quoted 72 / 100
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