It’s easy for me to take a quick glance at modern music and be disappointed. Nickelback and Nicki Minaj remain popular, and a gimmicky slew of singles are taking over the airwaves. It’s also easy for me to look at the entire world in the same manner, to be frustrated because I don’t like what I see. There are more slaves now than any other time in human history, and pornography is distorting people’s views of sex. And not only do many people have no idea of these problems, but many people who do have no intention to make a difference. Yet with their brand of metalcore, Silent Planet gives a voice to those suffering in wicked areas — human trafficking and the porn industry included. They chug, blast, and propel themselves towards a purpose beyond themselves, and on their first full-length record, The Night God Slept, their urgent message speaks louder than any other album released this year.
Unfortunately, this collection of songs is only be 33 minutes long, and from the 11 songs, only eight are new and two of those are short instrumental tracks that work in the album’s vibe. However, the band makes every second count. The three old songs come from the group’s EP Lastsleep. Together, these tracks weave a complex narrative about the harshness of World War II and the aftermath of war in general. Of course, the actual images of those times are only black and white to us, and because of that, they feel so distant. But Silent Planet paints these stories in full color thanks to vivid writing, the extremely emotional screeching of vocalist Garrett Russell, and a backing mix of punishing metallic bursts and tidal waves of post-rock melodies.
For a record that focuses on other topics, especially more contemporary ones like slavery, pornography, and the oppression of minorities, you’d think the theme of war would feel out of place — or at least a bit too heavy to keep the record balanced. But Silent Planet turns their entire musical canvas into a battlefield, pushing and pulling their instrumentation through the darkest trenches of human existence and into the hands of a God that becomes the only answer in desolate times. “XX (City Grave)” tells of an evil regime that turns human beings into sex objects, focusing on women as it tells of inequality and suffering (“We buried our sisters in a glass display”). Opener “The Well” quotes the books John and Phinehas, while both it and its successor steal lines from mewithoutYou and Thrice to cut and paste history together — and in a way that that warns listeners of the dangers of repeating it.
And it’s not just the sextet’s storytelling abilities and thickly-ingrained messages that makes The Night God Slept immaculate in its calls. They have tons of musical talent as well, drawing from the same well as bands like Oh, Sleeper and Underoath, yet coming up with a new stylization that prospers from ambient undertones, chilling guitar plucks, and female singing (in the pristine “Tiny Hands (Au Revoir)”). “Darkstrand (Hibakusha)” hints at Periphery with its progressive metal tones, while “Native Blood,” a song about the overlooked inequities of Native Americans, features a bombastic clean vocal chorus and booming riffage that attempts to bruise listeners into understanding centuries of cultural abuse as Russell screams, “We were dressed in potential, now we’re draped in sorrow!”
The band fits right in on Solid State Records, but their influence doesn’t end with mid-2000s metalcore. Whether it’s the teachings of Jesus, C.S. Lewis novels, or real-life stories and occurrences, it becomes obvious how bright, yet grounded Russell and his musical comrades are. They use their knowledge for good, taking what they’ve learned and spitting it back out into a world in need instead of hogging it to themselves. By fitting together a plethora of inspirations, the group forms a sound that’s so huge on all levels it almost always feels relatable. But it’s not too big, either. Dark, earthy vibes are common throughout The Night God Slept, and a great amount of experimentation within its core proves that they’re onto something big with their expansive style of metalcore.
Silent Planet was the next big thing in heavy music for a while, and now that they’ve arrived, they are metal’s new epitome of substance. What carries them is supremely intelligent songwriting. From beginning to end, The Night God Slept is brilliant, overflowing with deep lyricism, enormous and hearty musicianship, and incredibly personal stories that are sure to touch listeners from every walk of faith — especially those who haven’t experience the world the same way as the ones Russell pens about. But the main takeaway is that the human experience is uniting, and regardless of the fight people find themselves in, the aim for justice and completion is what matters most. Without it, Silent Planet wouldn’t be around. And without it, I would simply accept Nickelback and Nicki Minaj, slavery and pornography for what they are. On the surface, The Night God Slept is just one half-hour-long metal album, but it’s sure to accomplish a lot beyond what it is.
Metalcore | Solid State Records