The Rickety Old Shack

Silent Civilian — Rebirth Of The Temple

album cover

Formed after the disbanding of frontman Jonny Santos' main band, industrial / hard rock outfit Spineshank, the debut effort from Silent Civilian sees a familiar voice applied to a drastic shift in genres. In the first half of the 2000s, metalcore had displaced the now heavily maligned nu metal genre at the forefront of mainstream heavy music, and by 2006 the genre was well established thanks to the success of Killswitch Engage. Unfortunately for Rebirth Of The Temple, it seemed to get lost in shuffle with so many other albums of its ilk — beyond a handful of positive reviews, there was little buzz or attention on the record.

In the 12 years that followed, I found myself going back to Rebirth Of The Temple quite regularly, and the material aged a lot better than I would have originally guessed. After a short, minute-and-a-half intro track, the album gets right to the point and dishes out a relentless onslaught of groovy rhythms and soaring leads. The material features a lot of the standard tropes of metalcore, but executes everything very well. The verse / chorus / verse format, alternating screamed and clean vocals, is a heavy component of each song, but the riffs are jam-packed with catchy hooks and grooves and even some very tasteful guitar solos. This is very archetypal metalcore, but it's written and performed very well, and the production is crisp and clean without sterilising the material.

The one enduring critique I do have of this album is that it's a little front-end loaded. The full-boar aggression loses some steam around the middle of the record; "Bitter Pill" isn't terrible but its generic, mid-tempo nature stifled the momentum built earlier. Rebirth Of The Temple suffers from a bit of bloat, as I feel it could have been chopped down to maybe 10-11 tracks — excluding the intro — and wouldn't have lost any punch or left buyers feeling cheated. I find it surprising that Silent Civilian was unable to match even the moderate success of Santos' prior band, but I would argue this album deserved a lot more attention than it got at the time. From cover-to-cover, there are only a few brief lulls, and they are easily overlooked; this is a great mix of melody and aggression.

Over a decade later, and tracks like "The Song Remains Un-Named," "Funeral" and "Lies In The House Of Shame" still sound catchy and genuinely impassioned as they did when this album first dropped. Apparently Silent Civilian released a second album in 2008, which I was only made aware of when I did some background research for this review. Santos also reuinited with Spineshank for a similarly unheralded new album with that project in 2012. In the end, Rebirth Of The Temple is the only release from either group that held my interest for any significant length of time. This is very good metalcore record, exemplifying the timeless qualities of the genre — specifically the melodic, hook-heavy riffs — and I would still recommend it to this day.

Summary

While not blazing any new trails in the metalcore genre, Silent Civilian crafted a high-quality debut album in Rebirth Of The Temple. This album compares to the quality level of their genre peers at the time, in fact I find myself listening to this much more regularly than Killswitch Engage's As Daylight Dies. While Silent Civilian never made a big impact, the quality of their first record endures. This is not an essential album in the genre, but it's still very good and deserves mention.

Album Information

Release date: May 2nd, 2006
Record label: Mediaskare Records

Jonny Santos — vocals, guitar
Tim Mankowski — guitar
Henno — bass
Chris Mora — drums

Track Listing

  1. A Call To Arms
  2. Funeral
  3. The Song Remains Un-Named
  4. Rebirth Of The Temple
  5. Divided
  6. Bitter Pill
  7. Force Fed
  8. Lies In The House Of Shame
  9. Wrath
  10. Dead To Me 2006
  11. First Amendment
  12. Falling Down
  13. Live Again

—by Derek

Published: April 1st, 2018.