ALBUM REVIEW: Saboteur – Silver Snakes

WORDS: Tom Wakenell

LA rockers SILVER SNAKES are back on the radars of many, following the release of their latest album Saboteur. After the success of their sophomore release, Year of the Snake, the band decided to delve into the darker passages of rock in an attempt to progress and refine their sound.

Immediately, the force of SILVER SNAKES resonates with album opener Electricity, a heart-pounding track which from the start showcases the band’s versatility. It’s heavy and furious and the ferocious vocals, particularly heard when front man Alex Estrada is screaming “quiet!” set the pace for the rest of the record. Glass already has a different tone, with electronic pulses accompanied by eerie and distorted vocals, reminiscent to SLIPKNOT’s Corey Taylor in parts. The guitars are sludgy and the track has a ‘stomping’ feel to it. It appears to sound emptier than Electricity, but the subtle ambience and the crushing chorus certainly fill any gaps.

Following from Glass comes Raindance which instantly transitions from the ambient to the upbeat. Raindance is the first track on the album which can be seen as a radio rock song with a grunge twang. This is SILVER SNAKES at their simplest and it is apparent that the band do not need to be eccentric or over-elaborate to write a cohesive song.

Once again there is a clear difference between songs and Devotion takes SILVER SNAKES to their darkest level. In its seven minutes, Devotion takes you on a journey like no other. From the ambiguous, clattering effects at the start, to the impact of the distorted and reverberating riffs and the occasional dulcet vocals, followed by the drum outro, there is not one second where Devotion feels dull. There is a layer of OPETH embedded in the track, particularly from when their Blackwater Park era was in fully swing and it is a subtle ode to the band that progressive music is still relevant.

Fire Cloud is a guitar-based interlude which gives you time to recover from the chaos of the first four songs. Once the morose tones from the interlude are over, Red Fox kicks in. It has a similar sound to Electricity, but although there are a couple of monstrous riffs, it is the first instance of Saboteur having a dip in quality due to its repetitive nature.

Charmer provides the imagery of a giant robot invasion, with heavy ROYAL BLOOD influences draining through the track. Despite its name, it is anything but charming. It is rebellious with indoctrinating tendencies, and one that would bring a huge sound live. La Dominadora stands at just two minutes and 18 seconds and also acts like an interlude, except there are vocals and the lyrics are haunting. “Who’s in control?” rings out in a spine-tingling manner.

If there is one thing that SILVER SNAKES implement well, it’s drum intros and outros. Penultimate track Dresden kicks in with a drum intro, followed shortly by a repetitive guitar motif. This is the longest track on the album, clocking in at nine minutes. It is an extremely slow song and the build-up is intentional, yet anti-climatic. There is not a point of extremity like most of the album contains, it feels monotonous and doesn’t prove a point.

Concluding the album is The Loss and it is something of a lovechild between DEFTONES and COHEED AND CAMBRIA. It is a furious track with a doom and gloom air to it. The interwoven nature of the guitars and drums is magical and the essence of ambiguity in the track leaves you wanting more. The climax of the song portrays every solid component of SILVER SNAKES, with the double bass drums and crushing riffs finishing the album in a desirable manner.

Overall Saboteur has many high points and shows a vast spectrum of what SILVER SNAKES are capable of. Even with there being a couple of sub-par tracks, SILVER SNAKES have made a favourable album and the band have a promising future ahead of them.

Rating: 7/10

Saboteur is out now via Pelagic Records in Europe and Evil Ink Records in the US.