S * I * L * V * E * R
Dream Machines

fire.gif (20006 bytes)Showcase Album for October 2002fire.gif (20006 bytes)

Track Listing
1. Silver Dream Machines
2. Hand or Heart
3. Chains
4. Never Again
5. Forever
6. Banished
7. Far Below Zero
8. Loving You
9. Found Me Another
10. She Came

AOR Heaven 2002

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More Releases by Silver:
Silver - Silver (2001)
Related Releases (musicians):
MSG - MSG [Barden] (1981)
MSG - Built to Destroy [Barden] (1984)
Ten - Babylon [Airey] (1999)
Gillian - Future Shock [Torme] (1981)


If you just simply cannot get over those opening words "Love me in silver...love me with angel's eyes...", then are you ever in luck, because Silver is back and perhaps just a little better than before. The self titled disc was so drop dead wonderful that it was nearly album of the year. Dark and delighting AOR that took the road less traveled away from the generic sappiness that plagues the genre, instead opting to jazz up the soundscape with cutting edge electronica effects not widely used in metal settings thus far. Typical light strumming electric guitar begone, its a whole new world in the land of Silver with axeslinging that roams on the heavy side, suffocatingly crushing but always flying hand in hand with the easy going nature of melody. With Gary Barden bounced out of temporary retirement, for an appearance that is no less than stunning with his time weathered vocals and powerfully melodic performances, the resulting product was a piece of pure musical bliss. "Silver" was *the* groundbreaking disc of 2001, underrated by many, but outstanding nontheless, and anyone that came in contact with its greatness eagerly anticipated the announced sequel.

Gary Barden (MSG, Praying Mantis), Michael Voss (Casanova, Mad Max), Don Airey (Rainbow, Whitesnake), Bernie Torme (Ozzy), good Lord is this a freakin' supergroup or what? Airey is the undisputed mastermind of the keyboards, Torme absolutely rips it on guitar with a satiny dark side that is instantly likeable, Voss the driving force of AOR underground gods Casanova, and Barden... his time with MSG led to some material that is now considered classic. Throw in Marco Minnemann on drums and you've got Silver, the *it* band of last year that came from nowhere and stunned us all.

A little over a year later, and "Dream Machines" is finally here, after a wait that was agonizing. Right off the bat, it can be said that "Dream" is everything the first disc was and more. Some parts are more tuned down while others are kicked up a notch. Unfortunately the stylistic decisions are sometimes not for the disc's benefit, the main beefs being the guitars which are not as aggressive and the strange yet wonderful sounds of electronica studio bits once used to such breathtaking effect and wild abundance are not so widespread or startling. The music is kept simpler this time which does admittedly detract from the novelty that is Silver. Personally I prefered all the warped strangeness and pounding rhythms that dazzled the senses, but even with them still fluttering in the background, yet in a more subdued form, the new album still impresses perhaps even as much as the old. For the songs are so well written that they are hard to ignore. Some extra fawned love could have been distributed amongst the eager subjects but even as they stand, the tunes are deceptively addictive and undeniably well composed. "Dream" flows more evenly than the debut with an overall better pacing. Every song might not knock your socks off like "Chains" does, but there's still plenty to like among the black sheep of the cd's ten track running family.


01.] "Silver Dream Machines"
To much surprise, sound effects right out of a Sci-Fi movie open the disc up. Thirty or so seconds into this electronic instrumentation, it all comes to a sudden halt as it strikes into hard rock territory. A spacey chorus and cool bridge that winds right into it is executed well enough but for some reason the song still falls flat. Maybe it has something to do with the rather generic guitar work that takes no chances but blows no socks off either, until the solo which leaves you scratching your head and wondering what the hell that is. Talk about playing it safe for naught. Awesome stuff there, but its a shame we had to wait until almost the song's end to have something a bit spectacular thrown our way. Besides that brief light of experimental brilliance, the song is more of the ordniary. Nothing memorable overall, but that's about to change....

02.] "Hand Or Heart"
Oh yeah, if you are looking for big rock tracks like the blistering threesome from the debut ("Silver", "Pretender", "Sweet Sister") then this is just what the situation calls for. Some verses are given wide open spaces to breathe, allowing the listener to just inhale the gorgeousness of Barden's voice and pace keeping of some warped percussion, others are boosted up into sweeping and pure AOR that lights up the room with bombastic keyboards and heart bursting melodies, especially in the chorus that is just magic. The first of many highlights.... get set because the next song is likely to shock you into a music induced coma...

03.] "Chains"
At first glance it might not be priority number one, but rest assured that this piece is in fact a strong contender for song of the year. "Chains" is a massive track that flies so low under the radar many might unintentionally overlook it in favor of something more along the extremes, for this one takes its cue from somewhere right along the middle seam. Not a ballad nor an energetic hard rock ditty, its a smooth sailing excerise in clever writing, emotional tweaking and performances that draw the listener in and hold them there, like a fly caught in the spider's web. The melodies are mesmerizing, the chorus - buries into the soul and stays there for days on end. Its elegantly executed yet laced with thin threads of pain, the anguish resonating powerfully like an ethereal presence throughout. It peeks between the intricasy and flits like a butterfly of blue right into the spellbinding chorus. Barden's voice is masterful, drawing us in to his world where his emotions are laid on the line, welcoming all to pick up each piece and examine the suffering like a twisted ornament of display. He lets some verses dive down on the south end of the scale, raw and left in the rain, so intense and binding its as if he's addressing the very feelings in your own heart and been beaten from your own personal neglect. What a fantastic talent given such an amazing song. The two come together as sweet as peanut butter and chocolate, in a relationship tight knit like bees and honey, and as emotionally tumultuous as outside the eye of the hurricane...

04.] "Never Again"
Slightly higher up the energy scale than "Silver", "Never Again" falls in that happy medium, tinted in shades of darkness and containing some worthwhile performances that are worthy of closer examination. The chorus is rather simple, based around the song's title and "without you" thrown in for reserved moments of desperateness. Barden pleads and cries and sounds rather eloquent overall, and the melodies are thick and chunky, extra spice added with a plethora of cool studio tricks that make it much more memorable than had it been just another run-of-the-mill effectless rock track. What a difference some samples make eh?

05.] "Forever"
The atmospheric melancholy ballad of the disc sneaks up on you without warning. It begins by asking questions that shake up our perception of the known workings of the world. Then as elements start to move and change the tides of the song, it alters course by flowing into the chorus which bends the song in an entirely different, yet complimenting direction. The powerful voice of Gudrun Laos holds up in the midst of this chaos with her inner strength that hints of lacy feminine whiles beneath the surface. She sounds magnificent against the weathered force of nature that is Barden. One must also give mention to the deeply resonating piano courtesy of living ivory tickling legend Don Airey, a true master of his instrument. His works radiate throughout the song's entirety, adding depth to its bookends and key parts within.

06.] "Banished"
This one has the stuff to make it instantly adored. The chorus cuts to the chase with its delightingly addictive hooklines, making it just an overall classic melodic rock track in general. Bernie Torme's rhythm riffing is powerhouse indeed, lighting fires to the core and holding the song upon its sturdy shoulders. The only drawback? The chorus is so powerhouse that it should have been handled more carefully, like a hot potato but instead they end up holding the thing for too long at the end, causing it to explode in their faces. Such a killer hookline is beaten too far to death... still a great song however.

07.] "Far Below Zero"
The first taste of the new Silver was one of the sweetest. Having heard this in a teaser clip online, it riled me up to the point of just mindlessly craving the new cd, simply based off the slammin' fat chorus that just knocks the wind from your lungs while it keeps on trucking. Powerful and distraught, the chilly verses suck the listener down into the depths of the questioning chasm of second guessing then without fair warning, slam on the breaks for the seizing chorus that kicks the entire song into high gear, delivering thrills akin to bungee jumping without a cord or leaping out of a mile high plane minus a parachute. This is some seriously dynamite material that is given the kiss of perfection by Barden's crooning vocals and the electric guitar which just sizzles. Just come dressed warmly to ward off the song's atmosphere of stone cold chill.

08.] "Loving You"
This reminds me of some of Conception's subdued material from their last disc, "Flow". Conception, which like Silver, took chances and thought outside the boundaries. This flows supremely easy on the lower rung of the midtempo ladder. Torme's guitar has this raw blues/jazz/fusion edge as it runs in circles around itself during the center section and Barden's delectable vocal talents just come oozing out of every crack in this song's structure. A little repetitive perhaps, but its sing-a-long nature and stirring theme make it a winner reguardless.

09.] "Found Me Another"
Keeping pace with the past song, this starts slow and piano embellished and emotionally combusts into... well... an emotionally wringing ballad. A damn good one too, that plays the safe pop side, think the atmosphere of Savage Garden meets hard rock at the crossroads.

10.] "She Came"
Another song that gets its chorus repeated to the point of death. Why beat them so senselessly? Pulsing bass and more singing worthy of writing home about, its another decent track that could have been so much better with a little more time and love spent on it.


So is "Dream Machines" stacking up to the much loved debut disc? Yes and...no. Only a couple of songs come close to flirting with the greatness of the first half of that album. "Silver", "Pretender", "Sweet Sister", "Marianne", "Christine"... it was just top heavy packed. But the new material holds its own, believe me that. "Chains" has the stuff to be everlasting, as does "Hand Or Heart", "Forever", and "Far Below Zero". So all in all, you can say they have atleast equalled the first outing, with my main two beefs being: number one, their decisions to overkill the choruses. Silver will have this just superb chorus and then just destroy it by overdosing on it. After the twentieth go-round in a song, it begins to lose that magical luster it could retain if they restrained themselves and repeated it only half that. The other major problem is the lack of uptempo killers. "Hand Or Heart" is excellent yes, and their melacholy darker midtempo ditties are to die for, but we need more danceable tunage such as "Silver" and "Pretender". If they keep these two things in mind for next time, the third incarnation of Silver should be so honed to perfection it will blow our minds...

Songs - 9.0, Performance - 9.7, Production - 9.0, Lyrics - 8.5

Hot Spots: "Chains", "Far Below Zero", "Hand Or Heart"
Bottom Line: Silver's second is a treat indeed and destined to become one of the standout classics from 2002.

Review by Alanna Evans -

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