Review. Haunted By Silhouettes- "Shortcuts To Dead Ends" Certified 100% Death

Wavering strings and stalking piano strikes herald the impending thunderclap of metallic evil that is 'Exhumer,' the opening track to 'Shortcuts to Dead Ends', the first full-length from Norway's Haunted by Silhouettes. What follows is a chugging, infectious guitar riff and Mathias Jamtli Rye's unwavering, throat searing growl that properly prepares the listener for what's to follow: an album of pure, no-nonsense death metal. No, really. There's absolutely no need to add 37 different sub-genre labels here at all. Haunted By Silhouettes play death metal; and on Shortcuts to Dead Ends, they play death metal really, really well. Melody abounds on this album and can largely be attributed to guitarists Stian Hoel Fossen and Per Kristian Grimsland. Leads and chord progressions that call to mind the passion of Jesper Strömblad as much as they do the fury of Jeff Hanneman can be found throughout. The two come together best on both 'A Plea For Silence' and 'The Age of Narcissus.' The former finds Rye's vocals following Fossen and Grimsland as they alternate between the speed and power of American thrash in the verses and the melody of Gothenburg in the chorus; while the later features electrified gristle via synchronous twin-rhythm guitarists and a soaring lead in the chorus that will echo and reverberate in your head for day after glorious day. An impassioned bit of metal that is, and worth the price of admission alone. And while I am an all or nothing kinda guy when it comes to the incorporation of synths or orchestral instruments in a metal album, I'm going to make an exception just this once for 'Iskalde Blikk;' a track that feels purpose built for commercial radio. Strings that swell beneath a simple but effective piano piece are quickly overcome by a mid-tempo stomper that has an anthemic, almost elegant quality to it. The strings and piano return to bridge the gap between the last verse and the repeating chorus, which the band no doubt knew was too good not to revisit. So yeah, 'Haunted By Silhouettes' gets a pass for using some orchestration to slide a little atmosphere and class into a track here and there, they just better not let it happen again. Rhythm is held down by bassist Ola Nilsen Kjøren and drummer Håvard Bustad. While I dig a groovy drum solo or a dude who beats his bass like it owes him money as much as the next guy, I also appreciate a time keeper and his partner in crime who know when to allow the skinny string players and vocalist to take center stage. There is a sense of cohesion and musical camaraderie between everyone here not always found in modern bands. Guitar solos are kept to a minimum, drum fills are appropriate without feeling either stale or dramatic, and the vocalist does not feel the need to have a go at opera. To say it another way: no one is attempting to out perform anyone else as they perhaps (correctly) recognize that the strength of the song writing speaks for itself. 'Shortcuts to Dead Ends' is, as I've said before, a death metal album. If you require growls and the occasional scream over fret board manipulation and rapid fire percussion work in your metal, Haunted By Silhouettes has an album that you should hear. If you're looking for outrageous showboating, overt politics or BS of any kind, this is neither the band nor the album for you. For my money, I'll take my music sans the drama. And since I know you'll need more convincing, check out the official video for 'Iskalde Blikk.' Afterwards, order yourself a copy of 'Shortcuts to Dead Ends' directly from the band via their Facebook page. Just don't expect a 20 minute long ukulele solo. Rage on! JPR

#HauntedBySilhouettes #shortcutstodeadends #deathmetal

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