Tuesday 24 March 2020

Silent Tiger - Ready for Attack (2020)

Country: Honduras
Style: Melodic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 21 Feb 2020
Sites: Facebook

Ready for Attack, whether the song or the album, is hardly the most original music ever released. If you're a fan of the genre and tried to come up with ten quintessential song titles, you'd come pretty close to the ones on this album. Fortunately, that's the last negative thing I'm going to say about it because this is a quality release from a band that's based in the Honduras with a session vocalist who's apparently everywhere at the moment.

They start out reasonably heavy with that title track, but Chasing the Wind adds a more prominent keyboard sound and we're grounded in what Silent Tiger are going to bring us for the next forty minutes. This song starts out with a decent eighties metal riff, layers in keyboards and then strong vocals on top of everything. David Cagle's voice is definitely at the top of the mix, even if I'd have liked Jean Funes's guitars to be as far up there with him, especially because the songwriting seem to value both equally.

Most of the information I can find on the band revolves around the line-up, Cagle being a prolific session vocalist perhaps best known in melodic rock circles for Northrup Cagle, LastWorld and Marty and the Bad Punch. Funes and drummer Joel Mejia play in Hearts on Fire, with Funes also cited for Sound of Eternity and Mejia for Codigo Eterno. I haven't heard any of these bands though I'm far more likely to seek each of them out after enjoying this album. I think this also means that this is the debut for Silent Tiger.

Their Facebook page does list influences, which are surprisingly heavier for the most part than we might expect having heard the album. Sure, that's very recognisably a Def Leppard riff in Only Heartbreak but the rest of the song, like the others here, is much more grounded in AOR bands like Foreigner, REO Speedwagon and Journey. Unannounced, Tearing Me Apart could play on my local classic rock station without anyone realising that it wasn't a contemporary of Wheel in the Sky or Feels Like the First Time.

While Tearing Me Apart may well be the best song here, Come to Me sounds just as quintessential, including every component of a successful AOR song: power riff, driving beat and heartfelt vocals, but also a layer of keyboards that keeps us from ever thinking that it's too heavy for daytime radio. Then Edge of Love follows it up with more of the same but with more imaginative drums. The most fun riff is surely on the closer, Eyes of a Blazing Fire. Frankly, had this album been released in the heyday of AOR, it would have featured at least four or five singles and been heavily rotated on mainstream radio.

If, I should add, that the powers that be didn't realise that they were from the Honduras, because I always believed that there was an unwritten rule to require all AOR bands to be perceived as American, even if they were really Canadian and regardless of how many Brits were in their line-ups. If nobody owned up, though, then Silent Tiger would have got away with it because, if David Cagle isn't actually American, he sure sounds like it. The whole album is certainly sung in English and without an accent.

The best album I've heard this month is a melodic rock album, from Canada's Harem Scarem, and, while this isn't as good as that remarkable gem, it's an album worth mentioning in the same breath. There are similarities in style, consistency and quality. Also both albums are worth listening to a few times with different focuses.

Listen to this without a focus, letting the songs introduce themselves. Then listen again with special attention to Cagle's voice and how his hooks drive the melody. Then shift your focus to Funes's guitar to see how he grounds it all with his riffs and elevates it with his solos. Then ditch the focus and see how it washes over you as an old friend. It's a strong album, even if it isn't particularly original.

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