Perris Records
Release date: February 2004

Guitars: B
Bass: B+
Keyboards: C-
Percussion: B
Vocals: B
Lyrics: B+
Recording Quality: C-
Originality: B
Overall Rating: B

User Review
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Michael Riesenbeck, if you haven’t heard of him prior, is a Netherlands native who beats the skins for a band called Art.461. He has the look about him of a regular guy you may pass on the street, but make no mistake, Riesenbeck is not only a talented drummer, he’s also a solid Metal guitarist who can dabble pretty well into the bass guitar and keyboards when the mood strikes. This time, the mood evidently settled on him to assemble a solo album with songs he’s either written or worked on over the years with a host of other talents in the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal industry. After hearing what Riesenbeck has to offer in Shouting Silence (impregnating album titles with an oxymoron must be the hip thing to do these days, by the way), you’ll be pleased he decided to take the plunge into a solo career, because he undeniably has plenty to offer the Metal community.

Uniquely, for a solo artist, Riesenbeck essentially handled writing all of the music but left the lyrical compositions to guest performers Phil Vincent, Tony O’Hora, and others. The vocals are also handled by a variety of guest performers, but not necessarily the persons who wrote the lyrics, although Vincent and O’Hora handle singing half of the tracks. By “subcontracting” the lyrics writing and vocalist duties, Riesenbeck creates a “sampler” feel to this album. Since so much of a song’s success often rides on the vocals/lyrics, sharing these duties with a multitude of performers definitely creates a measure of diversity, but to Riesenbeck’s credit, he still is able to keep a common musical theme and feel to each song. Topically, most songs deal with a positive outlook of hope and towards international freedom – there’s some September 11th, 2001 World Trade Center references in the mix too, which at first blush makes you think Riesenbeck is a resident of the U.S.A. (I’m guessing the fact that the lyrics were written by persons other than Riesenbeck has something to do with this). A couple tracks, “Heart of Stone” and “Telling Lies,” are centered on the effects of relational pain, which essentially is the only deviation taken to the positive vibe of the other songs’ lyrics.

The musical style of Riesenbeck is generally upbeat, groove-orientated, 1980’s hybrid Metal — plenty of guitar distortion and solos, a loud snare drum, solid bass patterns, the occasional use of keyboards, and easy-to-sing-along-lyrics (in most cases). It’s not Glam or Hairband Metal per se (except for one song with lyrics written/sung by Ed James called “Better Days”), but it definitely has an “old-school” Metal feel to it. There’s some Dokken tendencies in there (Jeff Pilson does appear to play bass guitar on the track “Dreams For Tomorrow”), some Triumph, and the 3 musicals have a Joe Satriani Surfing With The Alien and Eric Johnson flavor to them. Overall, the sound is non-offensive and easy to listen to – the production quality is tolerable, which, quite frankly, is a step in the right direction for Perris Records.

The CD starts out with “Hold on Me” and an Iron Maiden-ish bass intro similar to “Wrathchild.” The vocal sound of Phil Vincent comes across very naturally, but at the beginning of the song it’s kind of hard to determine where this album may be going. When the chorus hits, though, the song takes its musical shape and it’s pretty easy to tell Riesenbeck is playing for keeps. Overall, this is probably the best song on the album.

Next, Riesenbeck shifts gears from the “natural” sound to an obvious Hairband Metal sound with “Better Days.” It works and isn’t at all shallow lyrically like many of the songs of the Hairband vein.

The next 3 songs, “Dreams For Tomorrow,” the all-instrumental “Casualties of War,” and “Call To Glory” all have a patriotic feel to them and a love of freedom … lyrics such as “Freedom, hope, and future are well within our touch; it’s time to fight, light the light, nothing could ever mean so much” ring pervasively in these up-tempo songs. Each are solid tunes.

The 6th track, “Meant to Be,” is one of only 2 songs that are less successful than their counterparts. “Meant to Be” is slower in tempo, which is fine, and has some decent vocal harmonies, but it’s too heavily weighted in lyrics, which makes it come through a bit cheesy, and it lacks the power associated with the other songs. The other “less successful” song is track #9, “Two Hearts.” Here, Riesenbeck utilizes keyboards and synthesizers more in the forefront than in any other track. The end product is a lukewarm hard rock song, along the lines of what the band Survivor would put out, which abruptly just ends.

Track #7 is the 2nd instrumental. It’s a bit long at about 8 minutes, and has a few “filler” passages, but overall it has some interesting guitar, bass, and piano work at various intervals, which offer welcomed diversity to the album.

“Heart of Stone” and “Telling Lies” are the 8th and 10th tracks, respectively. Both have a definite Dokken “Into the Fire” feel to them musically, and if you didn’t know any better, Phil Vincent’s vocal performance in “Telling Lies” could easily pass for Don Dokken himself. Riesenbeck, too, is wise enough to incorporate extended musical passages into both of these songs to allow listeners to simply sit back and enjoy the grooves.

The 11th and final track is the 3rd instrumental. It has some pretty cool keyboard effects and a Satriani-ish guitar/bass guitar style — it’s a great ending to a very solid comprehensive effort by Riesenbeck.

There aren’t a whole lot of frills to Shouting Silence, but what you have is an artist who developed a very tasteful, enjoyable, easy-to-listen-to album in the general mold of 1980’s Metal. Using multiple musicians to accompany his percussion and guitar playing, and multiple lyricists and vocalists, offers the listener a measure of diversity that keeps the songs fresh even after listening many times … and I’m sure I’ll do just that!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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