Sometimes when a label which chiefly deals with AOR and melodic acts releases something they term “progressive metal”, it’s not usually progressive metal as such.  It’s more likely to be a bunch of Yngwie Malmsteen enthusiasts/ex-collaboators churning out similar neo-classical work, but delivered with a slightly bigger punch (see Artension and Ring of Fire for starters).  With Silent Call, this is not the case. ‘Greed’ is their second release and frankly, it’s a monster.  Throughout the album, each member of the band gives their all, but the real stars are Andi Kravljaca (ex-Seventh Wonder) on vocals and guitarist Daniel Ekholm.

‘Every Day’ opens with a slow keyboard intro, before staccato guitar riffs and heavy bass drumming takes lead.  During this number, though, the keyboards remain high in the mix and while the guitars bring a great deal of heaviness, those keys add a layer of atmosphere.  ‘I Am My Nation’ cements Silent Call’s power, by offering another top notch guitar riff, which although not as heavy as the opener, packs a punch not to be argued with.  During the heaviest parts of this song, the band’s uncompromising approach could be compared to Symphony X.  Although buried a little in the resulting huge arrangement, Patrik Törnblom’s keys create a slab of sound, giving the track extra power.

‘Dream Tomorrow’ begins with an old-fashioned seventies rock riff, intercut with a very nineties prog-metal pneumatic edge; once Andi K’s vocals make an appearance, thing settle down a little.  There’s a little more obvious melody here than some of the other numbers; the track features a memorable chorus which leans towards the bigger and slightly pompier end of the AOR scale. ‘Falling From Grace’ Daniel Ekholm delivers another very chunky riff, not unlike Dream Theater at their best; not to be outdone, Andi K turns in one of his best vocal performances, his voice having a similar range to James LaBrie, yet with a more melodic quality.  During the mid-section of this number, the band takes a musical u-turn where they drop the heavy riffs in favour of a funky interlude.

For those of you who enjoy something a little gentler, ‘Through The Endless Night’ comes recommended, as it veers away from the prog-metal style and moves toward something more in the classic rock mould.  It begins with a soft piano intro and vocal; once the guitars kick in, it becomes a very strong power ballad.  Again, Andi K’s vocals are incredibly strong, but also of note is Mikael Kvist’s slow, stomping drum rhythm.  The production on ‘Greed’ is superb and that’s really highlighted by slower numbers such as this and ‘Turn The Tide’ – a track which, like ‘Falling From Grace’, has a bigger focus on the chorus.  Also here, there are a few moments where Tobbe Moen’s bass work is a little more at the forefront.  His style is punchy without sounding flashy.  If anything, it’s a shame his work doesn’t have a greater presence, but then again, with Ekholm’s guitar work being as aggressive as it is and Törnblom’s keys maintaining a high profile throughout the album, someone has to take a back seat.

The intensity of this album is such that it can be hard to listen to more than once in one sitting; however, that shouldn’t detract from its excellent qualities.  In short, ‘Greed’ is an album that’s fabulously played and produced and features no filler material. Silent Call should be very proud.

March 2010