Rapture - _The Silent Stage_
(Spinefarm, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
_The Silent Stage_, Rapture's third full-length effort, arrives in the wake of an excellent debut and a disappointing follow-up. I regard Rapture's debut _Futile_ as an exceptionaly accomplished (though hardly very original) affair, while the band's second album _Songs for the Withering_ displayed what I perceived as a disappointing change of musical course -- replacing much of the sombre feeling of its predecessor with an attempt to create catchier songs. Former growler Petri Eskelainen performed only clean vocals on _SftW_, as these became much more prominent in their music -- with rather mixed results. In addition, the band brought in Henri Villberg to deliver the death vox, which unfortunately became considerably more generic in the process.

_The Silent Stage_ does not present the listener with such jarring changes compared to its predecessor: there has been no further reshuffling of vocal duties, and the musical direction has basically stayed the same. The music depends almost entirely on the guitar work, and lead guitarist extraordinaire Tomi Ullgren (also known for his work with Shape of Despair and Thy Serpent, among others) is given the opportunity to stand out a bit more often than on _SftW_. Although there are still several dull riffs to be found, the balance seems to have improved. Nevertheless, glancing back at his previous work, it still seems to me his talents aren't being fully utilized here; _The Silent Stage_ is as much a chorus-based album as its predecessor, and some less linear song structures and would have been welcome. There seem to be less annoying passages to be found than before, namely as far as the clean vocals, which work significantly better. _Songs for the Withering_ had a lot of great passages followed by rather dire ones, while _The Silent Stage_ turns out to be more consistent.

Perhaps partly because of my disappointment with _Songs for the Withering_, I have ended up enjoying _The Silent Stage_ quite a bit; my expectations weren't too high and the album is easily likeable. It occasionally sounds too close to Katatonia, but most of the songs are quite effective, and some of them simultaneously memorable and emotional. "The Times We Bled" comes to mind as a particularly good example of what the band should ideally achieve throughout the record, at least for my taste; the album's stand-out song is then followed by a couple other very good tracks that wrap up _The Silent Stage_ on a stronger note than it starts. Although this isn't quite the direction I would personally like to see Rapture moving in, they have nevertheless been able to improve on their previous effort -- mostly in terms of consistency -- and come up with an enjoyable record.

(article published 15/3/2005)

8/12/2000 P Azevedo Rapture: The Futility of It All
4/11/2003 P Azevedo 7.5 Rapture - Songs for the Withering
1/15/2000 A Bromley 8 Rapture - Futile
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