Silent Knight...Of Myth And Destiny
posted on 6/2010 By:
I’m a collector, one of those obsessive types who has to at least hear every scrap of music he possibly can, if only to know not to hear it again. Over time, I’ve given up on the more ridiculous side of my sickness—the compulsive accumulation of radio edits, promo-stamped copies, foreign pressings, and so on—but I still have this unflagging need to have every track recorded by every band or artist that I remotely appreciate, the likes of which are vast and myriad. As such a collector, a treasure-hunter and sifter-through of used bins and yard sales, I love what Shadow Kingdom has done with their compilations of bands unsung and/or long forgotten. Their releases on Dragonslayer, Wolfbane, Slough Feg and Jameson Raid are all top-notch records and very welcome additions to my shelves, introductions to bands that, with the notable exception of the Feg, I’d never heard, and in the instance of Wolfbane, never even heard of.
I bring up my addiction to recorded music not so much to praise Shadow Kingdom again. (Such accolades have already been rightfully heaped upon them in more poetic fashion on these very pages.) But rather, I mention my disease to give you, faithful reader, an idea of where I’m coming from as I listen to this Serpent’s Knight double-disc set.
Or put into other words, it’s a more polite way of saying that, were I not such an avid collector of all metal-on-disc, this review would be a less polite way of saying:
Serpent’s Knight was a Seattle-based outfit, most notable these days for the inclusion of a pre-Sanctuary (and thus a pre-Nevermore) Warrel Dane on vocals. The first of Silent Knight’s twin discs covers the Dane era, mostly 1983’s Released From The Crypt full-length, with an additional two tracks featuring Father Scorn behind the mic. With Warrel’s presence being the Knight’s biggest selling point, the tracks that feature him comprise the album’s most interesting and yet least-listenable half. While their production is average at best, recorded at home and mastered off a leftover cassette copy, that’s a hurdle that’s neither unexpected nor unforgivable given the nature of this beast. (Also, it’s clearly indicated in the packaging—fair warning and all.) The biggest problem with the Warrel-fronted Serpent’s Knight is Warrel himself, his trademark multi-octave range in full effect, but mostly confined to the stratospheric highs, higher even than the Sanctuary days and drenched in a vibrato that makes the whole affair almost comically grating. Beyond Warrel’s warble, these tunes are your typical mid-80s dramatic dark power metal, clearly indebted to Judas Priest and Mercyful Fate, and aside from that ridiculous screech, nothing stands out as either superb or sub-par.
The second disc suitably represents the band’s second life, 1989’s 3000 Degrees In The Shade, with Mark G. replacing Warrel and with a noticeably improved production, albeit one that much drier and more sterile. Mark’s voice is similar to Dane’s, but less melodramatic—he sticks primarily to a nasally midrange with forays into the falsetto, thankfully largely vibrato-free. While that falsetto isn’t as sharp or piercing, the presentation is better than Dane’s. Still, with either vocalist, the same problem remains: none of the material on either disc is anything more or less than average; nothing on hand is close to a must-have or a dust-covered diamond, although nothing is an atrocity either. This Knight is a forgotten 80s unit, metal-hungry kids who never really got the chance to be a band you’d ever hear or hear of because they weren’t any luckier or any better than anyone else. And they’re nothing more or less than that. Unlike Dragonslayer or Jameson Raid, aside from the presence of their more-famous first vocalist, they’re nothing to write home about.
As a longtime fan of Sanctuary and Nevermore, one who’d never had any experience with Serpent’s Knight in either incarnation and one who has already admitted I want to hear every damn thing ever, I’m glad Silent Knight saw the light of day, although it’s not exactly glorious. And collection be damned, I’m also glad I didn’t pay for it because I won’t listen to this often, if I ever listen to it again. Silent Knight is an above-average and exceedingly thorough retrospective on an average band—it’s for completists only, one to put on the shelf and most likely keep on the shelf, a curio for the curious and a keepsake for the Dane fanboys.
Register to post comments.