‘When The End Began’ album review
album: When The End Began
artist: Silent Planet
release date: November 2, 2018
star rating: five out of five
review by Levi Yager
Silent Planet released their third, full-length album, When The End Began, earlier this month, and it’s one for the books. They’ve created a record densely layered with referential lyrics and intriguing structure – with more nuance than usual – which warrants multiple listens to soak it all up.
After the ambient, intro track “Thus Spoke” sets the scene, “The New Eternity” rips right into you and is heavy from the get-go. The clean vocals really shine through on “The New Eternity,” and the song also showcases an excellent mastery of dynamics. It finishes by screaming the words of the song’s title, which makes for a memorable ending.
Then, album highlight “Northern Fires (Guernica)” makes its entrance with a peaceful beginning that leads to frenetic, yet controlled, hammer-ons and pull-offs coupled with a flurry of rapidly-screamed verses. It’s a gripping song that never lets up, and it features a high-energy, captivating breakdown at the one-third mark.
When The End Began honestly never loses its momentum. Actually, the intentional way the tracklisting is ordered creates an ebb and flow within the listening experience that gives the album very thorough and well-balanced characteristics. So there isn’t a moment you’d want to miss.
Following the first of two placative, yet foreboding, instrumental interlude tracks are a couple of the strongest songs on the record, “Vanity of Sleep” and “In Absence.” “In Absence,” in particular, is unique in that it has the most clean vocals out of any song on When The End Began. It’s about dementia, and it brings forth heart-wrenching emotions related to the disease. The interplay of softer and heavier sections in “In Absence” is interesting since the melodic themes are carried over with different instruments, occasionally.
Quite possibly the best song on the album is track 11, “Lower Empire.” It starts with fast, electronic sweeps and stabs that then blossom into the electric guitar part when the screams kick in. This synth intro also uses atypical rhythmic techniques, which are fascinating, and it ends up being a recurring section that later features electronically-masked vocals when it reappears a third of the way through. Everything just comes together perfectly on “Lower Empire” – the writing, structure, playing and instrumentation are all superb.
The final song, number 14, is “Depths III.” Obviously the third entry to the band’s “Depths” songs, it’s a great closer that finishes the album in true Silent Planet fashion. The track starts with only keys, and strings add in when the vocals begin. The first half of “Depths III” is an epic buildup to the inevitable caterwaul, “Lord, did you see me as I was dreaming?” And the song later concludes with screams of “Watch me burn!”
There isn’t one bad song on When The End Began, and, in fact, I would say it’s Silent Planet’s best record to date. The riffs are more original, all the choruses of clean vocals – while more frequent on this record than on past Silent Planet releases – are outstanding and the overall approach seems very focused and mature. As usual, the band cites tons of various works – including some of their own older songs – in the lyrics, and all of these are annotated in the album booklet. So, I’d advise picking up a physical copy of the album if you want to do a deep dive into the song meanings. All things considered, Silent Planet isn’t really recreating their sound at all with When The End Began, but, rather, they’re perfecting it. And that’s more than a good enough reason to check it out.