Moody Swedes explore their influences, find sparks of originality amid the sounds.
For most metal fans, Sweden means blistering and melodic death metal crafted by the likes of At the Gates. Yet there is more to the country than the Gothenburg scene. Cult of Luna mixes heavy guitars, electronics and atmosphere into something that is both heavy and beautiful. Paatos explores similar territory, though with less crunch than their fellow countrymen.
Silence of Another Kind, the band's third album, finds the group exploring moody textures, from the opening "Shame" all the way through the title track at the end. Their sound is anchored by the ethereal vocals of Petronella Nettermalm. Now, having a female vocalist in a band of this type will typically draw a pair of comparisons. If you are lucky, it will be to Lacana Coil. If unlucky, to Evanescence. Thankfully, the group transcends those comparisons. In part, because Nettermalm is a gifted singer, and in part because Paatos is more interested in exploring mood and texture than writing mediocre to awful hard rock. Add in a talented cast of multi-instrumentalists, playing traditional rock instruments, strings and electronics.
In fact, much of Silence of Another Kind reminds me more of '80s-era 4AD gothic. While other parts, such as a whirling, sci-fi sound at the end "Your Misery", brings Portishead to mind. This track finds Paatos at the top of their game, mixing a compelling melody, great vocals and an incredible atmosphere. Interestingly enough, the group also should pay royalties to Pink Floyd, there are moments (especially in the organ playing) that could have pulled off one of the band's albums from the 1970s.
The band backslides rather quickly from this high, however, into the rather ordinary "Falling", which tries to build drama, but never manages to go anywhere. This is followed by a number of other tracks that fade into each other, rarely rising above the fray. (Which, to be honest, is a common problem with moody, atmospheric albums). "Is That All?" improves this, creating a dense musical atmosphere that has a nice payoff in the chorus.
All in all, Silence of Another Kind, is a solid, if not overwhelming collection of songs by a group that is trying to create music off the beaten path. The unusual combination of strings, atmospheric effects and loud guitars will please those looking for a change, as long as they don't go in expecting to be engaged for the entire 45 minutes of the album.