Don an armour plate and prepare to fulfill your heroic quest.
On Jon of the Shred’s recent release, he manages to evoke a sense of purpose which is sure to make you feel like the main character in your own action role-playing game.
The 10-track album Silence the Opposition offers a lot of interesting ideas that make it difficult to pin down a single influence. On the stellar opening track “Three Terms Later…..” it’s easy to feel like you’ve accidentally launched an MMORPG like World of Warcraft from your desktop. The song comes equipped with a harrowing refrain that creates the impression that your destiny is in your hands.
Calling the hero to action, the album shows many inspirations
Track two, “Disguise Discarded,” makes you feel like you’ve entered a world rife with dangerous encounters – and there’s no turning back. The song is fast-moving but never leaves without the listener. This is thanks to a clever chord progression that breaks up the flow in a way that gives the audience time to catch up.
The opening songs sound like high-production versions of the simple melodies that early video games offered. Since the medium was once limited to leveraging synthesizers, fans of the Synthwave genre should still find a lot to like – even if the album doesn’t obey its traditional structure.
Like many of the songs on here, “Grimm’s Militia” manages to sound both celebratory and inflaming. What made the song especially interesting on my first listen, however, was the clear prog rock influence.
As someone who hadn’t heard from this artist before, the emergence of a shredding guitar and the subsequent crescendos that lead to the song’s grand finale were a welcome surprise. This was especially the case since the first third of the track does little to spoil the sounds that introduce themselves thereafter.
“Trafficking Scythians” signals the close of the album’s first half, although it is likely the weakest of the bunch when considered as a stand-alone track. While the song is lengthy and ultimately underwhelming, I am a fan of the eerie mood it sets going into the remainder of the album.
In a broader sense, however, this track is indicative of the album’s biggest shortcoming. The songs are designed creatively, each slowly ramping up to new sounds and interesting finishes. Unfortunately, on an album format, this plays to Jon of the Shred’s detriment at times. There are many instances where the album’s momentum is completely halted and the mood is lost altogether.
On this diverse album, there are many haunting moments
Track six, “Reflections of the Past,” is a fantastic song that goes against what I had incorrectly assumed was becoming a formula. It succeeds at painting a story in only a minute and half. Like the album itself, this is the moment where the main character picks himself up and tries again.
“A Demonstration of Power” was the first song to make me appreciate how diverse the album is, as comparing it to the earlier tracks made it seem like two separate projects, or even artists, altogether. The transition between these sounds is seamless enough to stop the album from being uncoordinated.
The titular song “Silence the Opposition,” gets off to a rough start, but soon introduces a smooth saxophone and one of the funkiest bass lines I’ve heard this month. It runs slightly long, but you can tell that Jon of the Shred is having fun with it. The song is interesting enough to stay solid overall.
The penultimate track “The World Scythian Government” is arguably the best moment on the album, with enough going for it that is sure to be a crossover for fans of many genres. The song is an extremely nostalgic and grand way to lead into the finale, and greatly benefits from the artist compressing many ideas into an easy-to-digest serving.
Similarly, “A Futile Challenge of Fate” is a beautiful piece that utilises what sounds like a relaxing harp riff and organ crescendo. This is the album’s ‘sailing away’ moment, and really makes you appreciate the journey that Jon of the Shred led you on. There’s even a Synthwave-inspired outro here that would easily be appropriate to listen to alongside end credits.
On his Twitter bio, Jon of the Shred lists himself as an author, and it’s clear how that has influenced this album. The meticulous sequencing and way in which these songs combine to score a narrative makes me imagine that there was a storyboarding process involved.
Overall, Silence the Opposition is a solid album that is sure to have crossover appeal outside of fans of video game soundtracks. There are many empowering and even haunting moments on here that combine to create a really good finished product. While some of the individual songs could have benefited from being condensed, the album has nonetheless won me over as a fan.