When bands are being promoted, phrases such as “for fans of” or “sounds like” are often used. That is understandable, as the competition to be noticed is so fierce that any attention-getter can and will be utilized. In the promo materials for Silverthorne’s EP Tear The Sky Wide Open, there is this blurb: “You may hear elements that are not unlike being at a Led Zeppelin concert with Cream and Free opening, while Soundgarden and QOTSA hang at the bar.” Those are pretty big bragging rights, but guess what? With this EP, Silverthorne proves they have the chops to back it up in a huge way.
The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Pete Shoulder, bass player Daniel Spree and drummer Brian Tichy, who is the best-known member of the group. Tichy is a world-class drummer whose catalog is a virtual who’s who of hard rock.
The five-song EP leads with the title track. Tear the Sky Wide Open (the song) generated considerable buzz when it was released a few months ago, and for good reason. The tune starts innocently enough with a dry, highly processed guitar riff for two measures, with no hint of the fury to come. The drums, bass and massive guitar chords come in suddenly, simultaneously and never let up. Listening to the song, it is immediately apparent that Tichy struck gold when he picked Shoulder to be Silverthorne’s frontman. Shoulder is a monster guitarist, powerhouse vocalist and lyricist nonpareil. He sings: “You’re a believer, I’m your addiction. You’ll becoming around to my twisted religion. Let me be your world, let me be your sickness. Want to be your vice, want to be your weakness. Climb beneath your skin, stay inside forever. Carve my name into your heart so you’ll remember. Run through your veins, break down your defenses. Climb in your brain, rearrange your senses, yeah!” Wow…damn powerful words that hit like a sledgehammer, and that’s just the first verse of the first song.
Roll Me Back Again is next up. It is driven by a looping, meandering guitar line that twists and slithers like a python on the hunt. Shoulder rips off a slide guitar solo that fits perfectly with the rolling feel of the song. The track ends with Shoulder drawing “roll me back again” repeatedly over a fading bluesy slide guitar outro.
Black River Rising shifts gears completely with an entirely different, very dark feel compared to the previous two songs. It opens at a slow tempo with an ominous guitar wah-wah solo. Shoulder starts singing, and his voice sounds eerily, remarkably like the late Chris Cornell. The song builds in intensity with heavy power chords in the chorus, then drops out in the verses with only a basic guitar line, accompanied by Spree’s bass and Tichy’s drums. The soft verse/loud chorus format has a very dramatic feel and was employed by many of the grunge bands of the late 90’s. Shoulder’s vocal wails and screaming wah guitar solos give this song a very, very Soundgarden feel to it as it slowly fades to conclusion.
Track four is simply titled Movin. It’s a straight-ahead rocker about with a driving beat about bailing out of a busted relationship. Once again, Shoulder shows his ability as a wordsmith when he sings of his ex: “I bet even Satan would be afraid of you.”
Which brings us to the final song, Haunted by the Dawn. It’s a natural that bands like to save one of their stronger songs for last to give the listener a punch to the gut and go out with a bang. This song is more like a nuclear explosion than a bang. Tichy channels his inner John Bonham while Shoulder calls up Jimmy Page and David Coverdale. The result is an amazing five-and-a-half-minute ride that sounds like a mix between the best of Led Zeppelin and Whitesnake. The phrase “instant classic” is frequently overhyped and overused, but in this case is completely warranted. It’s one of those rare songs that causes the listener to gasp and explain “Oh my God, what did I just hear!?”
The band shows their influences, but they’re not copycats. They take from the past, but don’t rip it off. Consequently, Silverthorne’s EP needs to be on the radar of everyone who loves classic melodic hard rock.