Silent Front are a three-piece from London who formed in the late 90s. They’re well-respected and much adored within the local DIY music community as evidenced by their dedicated underground following. They’re a hard-gigging band, having been constantly gallivanting off on some tour or other across the UK and Europe. Most importantly, they’re DIY all the way: they have a hand in their recording, production, artwork and distro, as well as booking shows, touring, and running their own label Triplejump Records.
They harken back to the imagined glory days of true hardcore and noise, when shit was intense and immanent and exciting, experimental but not yet wanky. They boast a straightforward urgency, a mastery over strange signatures and dynamics, and their delivery is unpredictable and sincere. Sweet Jehu! They sound like a million sleepytime fugazms under a dazzling coat of big black shellac. How’s that for a tribute to their excellent noise-rock heritage?
Silent Front quickly became one of my favourite bands when I lived in London. Live and in the flesh, in the dank and dingy rooms and car parks I’ve seen them play, they were impeccable. They’re tightly in tune with each other; cohabitating, revelling and playing music together as they do will have a band tapped in like nothing else. These guys compelled me to dance at shows, yet even now on the other side of the world, hearing their music through cold speakers in dead solitude, the heat still translates. Bodily memories reawaken and I’m transported back to that dirty old town again.
Their music is sincere, authentic, defiant. They’ve got heart and maturity. They give it everything they’ve got, however that does not mean it is a relentless, balls-to-the-wall continuous pounding. It’s not testosterone-fueled aggression or contemptible teen angst, but all grown man authentic intensity. Silent Front make me move, stop, and start again. It’s all in the fast and slow, push and pull, build up and pare down, tension and release, heavy and light, intense and sparse to-ing and fro-ing.
Following from various split releases before and aft their 2010 debut Dead Lake, Trust is their second full-length album and was released in early February 2014 by Function Records. Silent Front have not evolved into any unrecognisable form with this album – their tight niche has only been drilled deeper. It’s heavy but not brutal, immense but not crushing, the layers speak for themselves yet are greater than the sum of each impeccable part. Full drum geekdom, thick as mud bass, lean and mean guitar, and intense, urgent vocals are all distinct yet coherent. From the tightest of the small and sharp pushes and pulls within the sweeping delineations of each noisescape, Trust is classic Silent Front: short songs with very wide parameters.
There’s no slow and gentle buildup to Trust. From the first urgent yells, Mechanical Grip is forced straight into us dry. It’s aggressive, thrashy and exciting, catchy and almost dancey until the last minute’s emotive withdrawal. Bracken is bassically thick and muddy; it’s determinedly slower but ever driving. More Is Less is a song stripped back to the essentials, building up slowly and progressive. Friend or Foe is abrasive but melodic, relentless, and gallops into an unsettling six-minute instrumental intermezzo. Confiance serves as a beautiful nadir of this parabola, a respite on a chaotic journey. Before the energetic reuptake of the upswing, this is a calm within the storm; a pensive island in a thrashing, gnashing sea. However, it is a false sense of security that this quiet part will lull you into.
Just as we get comfortable, we’re thrown back to the wolves with Nails. This is my favourite transition, as well as stand-alone track, of the album. Its immediacy is perfect: passionate and violent. Phil sings it like he means it, and I believe every word he sings. Next, Invisible Mouth is suitably choppy and catchy too. Final track Veil, although is melodic in truth, is also discordant and the constant rhythmic changes are disorienting. The ending to the song is simply epic. Thus ends half an hour of solemnity, tension, urgency and energy, and the quiet spaces make the noise all the more glorious. There is looseness contained within the walls and depth in the shallows.
Trust is noisy chaos, yes, but this is planned precision, and a skilfully jarring controlled opposition it is. There may be parts in this album that other folk might not be too sold on, but if they’d made the album more appetising, they’d lose the exquisitely uneasy restraint. And Silent Front aren’t making music to make the masses happy. Look elsewhere if you want a band that will spoon-feed you pre-digested songs, or jam inedible shit down your throats. But enter here if you want creative tension, and a band that tantalises and teases, letting their music speak for itself. Trust? I fucking believe you Silent Front, I really do.
Support DIY artists. Buy the album here.
Defender Of The Faith, 4.3.14