I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Haunted by Silhouettes—"The Last Day on Earth"
Label: Rob Mules Records, 2018
Genre: Melodic/Progressive Death Metal
Run Time: 43:38
About a year ago, I reviewed Aphelion, by Norwegian melodic death metallers Hunting the Hidden, for this site. When I was first contacted by that band's vocalist/guitarist, Per Kristian Grimsland, I made sure to tell him up front, "Sure, I'll check it out, but I have to be honest, I'm really not a death metal guy." He seemed OK with that, and I tried my best to do a fair and balanced write-up of the disc in spite of my lack of knowledge about the genre. When I look back on that review a year later, I realize that I totally sounded like someone's Dad, essentially saying, "Yeah, these guys can play, but OY, those growly death metal vocals sure do hurt my ears! I guess they're OK, though, if you like this sort of thing. (shrugs)"
Per must have appreciated my honesty, at least, since he's now sent me the newest album from his other project, Haunted by Silhouettes. The Last Day on Earth is the second full length from this melodic death metal combo, whose history dates back to 2013 and boasts a discography that includes two prior EPs and two singles. I'm not sure if Haunted by Silhouettes shares any other members with Hunting the Hidden aside from Grimsland, but Per is strictly the guitarist in this band, as the vocals are handled by one Mathias Jamtli Rye.
Haunted by Silhouettes wastes no time in hitting the "detonate" button on The Last Day on Earth. The album kicks off with the absolutely pulverizing title track, which steam rolled through my speakers and scared the living hell out of my dog, who was sitting next to my desk, haha!
H.B.S.'s sound is characterized by walls of gnarly barbed wire guitar riffing (props to Grimsland and his six-string partner in crime, Stian Hoel Fosson), seasoned with occasional flourishes of tinkly keyboard and piano sounds and four-on-the-floor powerhouse drumming by Havard Bustad. Musically these guys obviously have their you-know-what together, but as I expected, the abrasive death-roar vocals were the main sticking point for me. I have to give Rye credit where it's due, his throat-shredding acrobatics are impressively brutal, but I can only take this sort of thing in small doses.
I listened back to some of Hunting the Hidden's Aphelion before I dove into The Last Day on Earth to see what comparisons could be made between the two projects. If anything, I'd say Haunted by Silhouettes have a slightly "dirtier" and more "metal" sound (think Slayer/Opeth/Emperor) with less "core," but again, I'm no expert on the extreme metal scene, so I'm probably just displaying my ignorance when I make such statements.
It's worth noting that for an independently released recording, this album's production is excellent—you can hear everything loud and crystal clear, with ample separation between the instrumentation and the vocals. When these guys launch their full-bore, pedal to the medal attacks like "Jakta" (which is sung in the band's native Norwegian), "Post Mortem Portraits," or "Mountain of Skulls" (which has got to be the coolest song title I've heard in quite some time!) you'd best hang on for dear life, because when these guys are "on" they'll blow anything that isn't nailed down halfway across the room. I can only imagine how punishing this band must be in a live concert situation!
Summing It Up
I guess I've made it pretty obvious by now that I will probably never be a melo-death aficionado.. That said, I'd like to think I've heard enough to be able to tell good stuff from junk, and Haunted by Silhouettes is definitely not junk. They're talented players, they're heavy as stink, and fans of melodic mayhem in the vein of In Flames, Dark Tranquility, At the Gates and Soilwork should go absolutely nuts for'em. Thanks for broadening my metallic horizons just a little bit, fellas, and I wish you luck in your future campaigns of brutality.
Interested parties can learn more about this band at their official Facebook page and their tunes can be heard via their official YouTube channel and on Spotify, Tell 'em that the clueless poser from the HubPages Network sent you.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on November 25, 2019:
I have been a metal fan all my life but have never been able to embrace the "death growl" vocal style. I prefer vocalists who can sing, or at least shout convincingly. :D
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on November 25, 2019:
I knew a man who sang this way and was very into metal. He could hit high notes but preferred the deep guttural tones. I never grew to love this type of music, but I did like some songs. He would have loved this band.