Creative heavy metal at its best

It happened around one and a half years ago: drummer Simon Michael caused a stir when he released MY INNER DEMON, the official debut by his band, Silverlane – immediately earning unanimously positive reviews. After all, this was something that nobody would have expected from the percussionist who had made a name for himself as the skinsman of medieval rock act, Subway To Sally: namely that he’d be capable of delivering an offering rich in partly progressively oriented but always melodic epic heavy metal in the tradition of Avantasia, Kamelot, Stratovarius and Gamma Ray.

Yet Simon Michael has been indulging in this “hobby” away from Subway To Sally for almost 15 years, in fact that’s how his musical career started: back in 1995, the eleven-year-old (!) founded the band together with his schoolmate Daniel Saffer (bass), brother Chris (guitar, backing vocals) and sister Dodo (keyboards, backing vocals). And it wasn’t before working on his self-produced 2005 recording, LEGENDS OF SAFAR, that the drummer applied for a job with “Sally”, for which he was promptly accepted. 

Now there’s his second coup, ABOVE THE OTHERS. And again, innovation is the name of the game. The driving opening anthem, marked by symphonic keyboard arrangements, and the subsequent, slightly more rocky, double bass-dominated ‘1789’ superficially offer efficient neck muscle training for headbangers, yet reveal on closer inspection musical intricacies which will have connoisseurs click their tongues.

The pulsating ‘Last Day On Earth’, on the other hand, impresses with its irresistible midtempo groove which mercilessly drills its way into its listeners’ aural tracts, culminating in a catchy sing-along chorus part, its demonic atmospheres forging an arch to early Rainbow and Dio (R.I.P.!). Fallen Angel’ initially fascinates with sinister staccato riffing in the vein of acts such as Rammstein, which dissolves in an anthemnic chorus that automatically has the audiences punch the air and shake their manes.

‘Anything’ is marked by voluminous arrangements and massive orchestrations and proves that not only prog rock protagonists such as Blind Guardian are capable of fusing orchestral sounds with those of a metal band in a compact and organic style.

The core of the album, however, is the four-part opus, ‘The White Lady’, based on the legend of the White Lady – a ghost reputed to have haunted the castles of several noble families in Europe – and featuring the whole range of musical facets which discerning listeners have come to expect of contemporary, melodic and powerful heavy metal: emotional, melancholy-spherical sounds as featured on the first part, ‘A Ghost Appears’, clarion-like melody parts (Part II: ‘Golden Needle’), bombastic orchestrations (Part III: ‘Between The Trees’) and powerful, monumental, almost threateningly doom-laden heavy rock (Part IV: ‘Days Of Sorrow’). “It’s almost local history”, says Simon Michael proudly of his first mini-opus, perhaps – without dismissing the other tracks – the best offerings to date by the drummer and his band. “The earliest reports about sightings of this female ghost date back to the 15th century and stem from the German Plassenburg ob Kulmbach – very close to where I live.”

Yet the lyrical focus of ABOVE THE OTHERS is marked by another theme: “A few months ago,” says Michael, “I sadly lost my best friend. A number of songs on the subject of suicide were conceived more or less under the impression of this tragedy: ‘Last Day On Earth’, ‘Dark Side In You’, ‘Anything’.”

Something else moved Simon Michael and his bandmates during the past months – something which influenced the album title: “‘Above The Others’ sees us express defiantly and self-confidently that we don’t care if some critics superficially label us as Helloween, Gamma Ray or HammerFall clones. I like the attitude contained in the statement “cause today we stand above the others”. That’s why we have unanimously chosen this quote as the battle call of our second recording!”

A recording which sparkles with the duo Uli Holzmer/Chris Alexander’s breathtaking guitar attacks. And at the same time a recording which is a product of real teamwork in which each band member participated on an equal footing. “Every one of us,” says Michael in closing, “contributed at least one song to the album – so looking at it from that angle, we may be the most democratic band of the whole heavy metal genre!”

And definitely the most compact: in contrast to recordings by many of their colleagues, it’s impossible to make out different standards in the songs. On the contrary: ABOVE THE OTHERS operates at an amazingly high musical level – from the first to the very last second!




Silverlane - Above The Others


01. Above The Others
02. 1789
03. Last Day On Earth
04. Fallen Angels
05. The Game
06. The Dark Side In You
07. Ready To Rock
08. The White Lady Part I - A Ghost Appears
09. The White Lady Part II - Golden Needle
10. The White Lady Part III - Between The Trees
11. The White Lady Part IV - Days Of Sorrow
12. Anything
13. In The End


Silverlane - My Inner Demon


01. Wings Of Eternity
02. Miracle
03. The Flight Of Icarus
04. The Taste Of Sin
05. My Inner Demon
06. Tears Of Pain
07. In The Desert
08. Kingdom Of Sand
09. Full Moon
10. Serenade Of Wind
11. The Dark Storm
12. Slowly





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