Rough Silk - Roots of Hate
This is a disc I've personally had a long history with and it comes as an oddity that up until now I have never written about it, despite the fact it has swerved in and out of my life for the past decade-plus. Rough Silk's "Roots of Hate" is a curiosity from a time when metal-type music was still being created but had been all but abandoned by fans and media alike. 1993 was a rough year publicity-wise, without the internet to run as a digital wonder to bridge continents and spread the word of "good" music, the closed off world sweeped this disc under the rug and forgot about it entirely.
Being progressive, melodic, and quite metallic in various and assorted stages throughout the 14-track disc, "Roots of Hate" was a hard sell. It was either not progressive enough, or too much so.  It contained too many melodic rock elements or lacking them entirely or being too blunt and shamelessly hard rockining to appeal to any one group.  A mixture, a mutt, an enigma.  But at its core "Roots" was quite brilliant in the way it balanced these variations of a theme and streamlined songs into compelling compact creations.  There are hints at deeper meanings, but it usually runs along the surface as delightful heavy impacted fluff.  Melodies are fast, furious and unforgivingly sweet, bursting out of harsh riffing and thunder grinding rock like the cherry liquid center spurting from a cracked open cherry cordial.  The riffs just splinter away like broken chocolate and let the gooey choruses spew forth in their sticky deliciousness. 

Ferdy Doernberg is the band's leader, creating the outfit in 1989 and then readying it for their grand full length "Hate" debut. An EP was released in 1991 that gave a taste of some of the material that would later be properly launched for "Hate" such as "Through the Fire". He's best known as keyboard tickler for Axel Rudi Pell these days, but Rough Silk was his band and launching pad for creative ideas and influences.

Jan Barnett was perhaps the standout player in Rough Silk and his later departure would see the band's creative downfall as they went from quirky/memorable/unique - to - boring/stereotypical/powerish. Barnett's voice was neither fantastic or mundane. He had a rough quality that fit the music but could also turn on a dime and become surprisingly smooth - much like the band's moniker itself that mixes opposites to form a similar image in the same fashion. He was perfect for the band and spiced the music with generous doses of originality in twists and odd pronunciation. When he sang it, it was quaint and well balanced alongside the music. Nothing spectacular but unique enough that it's no wonder that the band floundered for an identity after his aspirations took him beyond the realms of metal into other, less successful musical ventures.

The name Rough Silk was derived from the band's goal at combining heavy metal (as in the "rough") with the melodic rock (so be it the "silk") - this can clearly be heard on "Roots" in nearly every song, from the pumping "In the Deep of the Night", the anthemic "Calls to the World" that rolls over to a splendidly candid chorus, to the whipcrack addictive sing-a-long "Wasteland Serenader" that slices with guitars and soothes with its melodic balm on that open blistery wound. "Candle in the Rain" is slower, ballad-like and given a twist due to the vocalist's approach to the music. "Cemetary Dawn" is powerfully compelling with a deep bottom end and a frothy chorus.

"Sentimental Trust" is fairly straightforward and quirks vocally with the pronunciation of the word "sentimental". This is one of the finer points of the album, in that blissful quick run in the middle that pounces one great track out after another. "Through the Fire" caps this sizzling run off with a song that is essentially about touring as a band no matter what happens along the way on the road. It's oddly sentimental in nature and has a different flavor than other songs of this type. "Ups and Downs" is another song that is laden with melody and reflects on the various contentment levels of life. "Why" is a drippy ballad and "Forever" is a short and sweet one.

It's the harder pieces that fail at lasting longevity. "Roots of Hate" is a rocker - but that's about all it is. "When Thunder Roars" is typical metallic stuff that offers nothing new besides some heavy riffs and "Eyes of a Stranger" just lacks the special seasoning that allows the others to pop out as they do. All in all, this is an interesting and entertaining disc that has just a few nicks in its otherwise, highly polished and ever lasting armor.

Unfortunately for Rough Silk they faded from existence sometime after Barnett's departure. He apparently went out of his way to become a German pop singer and failed at this, fading from worldwide view. Rough Silk produced a couple of more interesting cds before losing Barnett, "Walls of Never" being perhaps the oddest bird of the bunch, taking the heavy/soft aspects to even greater extremes and carving a strange divide into the twisted world of prog-metal. The Barnett-less "Beyond the Sundown" tried too hard to be different and their last release, 2003's "End of Infinity" went under the radar - to put it nicely.

There was but one "Roots of Hate" - one shot at that sound, a single brush with that tangy twist of melody and metal and that touch of strangeness that defined the Rough Silk sound. Nothing else sounds like this or was created in its image. It's a once off, but a glorious one at that. The best of the disc holds up nicely today, being addictive, instant, and attractive songs with meat behind the music. "Candle in the Rain" can still give you chills and "Cemetary Dawn"s flawless flow seems so natural even now. It's unfortunate that the cover was so hideous, and the album released in an unfortunate time. It's a disc that hasn't seemed to age, and deserves another shot at glory.

Written by Alanna
Sunday, March 9, 2008
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Review by Alanna

Released by
JVC - 1993

1. The Grapes Of Wrath
2. Roots Of Hate
3. In The Deep Of The Night
4. Calls To The World
5. When Thunder Roars
6. Candle In The Rain
7. Cemetary Dawn
8. Sentimental Trust
9. Wasteland Serenader
10. Through The Fire
11. Ups And Downs
12. Why
13. Eyes Of A Stranger
14. Forever

Hard rock

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