One of the most awaited albums of the year is here, and we took our time with it to truly understand what’s it all about. This is a new step in Phuture Noize’s career, as this comes out in his Black Mirror Society label and, in short, it was the artist’s pursuit of his own, unique sound.
In general terms, a “silver bullet” is a simple, almost magical solution to a difficult matter. The artist claims he’s found it in simply disregarding what people want him to do, and going his own way, thus finding the simple solution to a very difficult issue artists face… And thus, this album was born.
Without further ado, let’s take a deep dive in it!
The album kicks off with the aptly named Genesis. There’s an eerie environment at the start with a breakbeat slowly taking prominence as we go through the track. The vocals are followed by an alarm clock (wake me up when everything is over…) and the track then raises in intensity, with an anti-climax featuring a deep kick with distorted bass, serving as a good intro for what’s to come.
The second track is the title track. It makes sense that it is, given the concept of the whole album. According to the artist, “silver bullet stands for the feeling of always ending up second place. a feeling that a lot of people can relate to, especially in these modern times“, which gives some context as to why this is the second track. Right from the get go you can see this one was made to have quite a lot of impact, with a melody slowly rising from the background and some deep, echoey vocals. The melody takes the lead role right after. The build up for the climax is made with some interesting percussion elements, with the climax being something we’re used to from the artist, with its impacting kicks. There’s a moment of silence mid-way through, enhancing the track’s impactfulness, and some elements seem to have been inspired by an orchestra, such as some vocal elements used in the background and the cymbals, with the build up being rather cinematic-like.
These two tracks represent a wake up call for the artist, who at some point in his career decided to follow what he feels that Hardstyle should be – something you will perfectly understand after listening to the album, and that’s fitting to the concept we’ve explained when we started this review.
Dreamers Delight switches up things a bit with a more upbeat feel. The lyrics invite you to just relax and enjoy the ride, despite all the shortcomings that life often throws into our paths. It was the track that took the artist the longest to finish, having had 3 different versions. The vocals lead us through pretty much all the track, with some rock inspired drums at the start, which give way to another immense melody right after. The “plucky” elements during the build up before the second climax are very interesting and fill the track really well.
It Ain’t Easy continues with the rock influences and begins with a guitar melody right off the gate, introducing deep vocals right after, with lyrics that can be interpreted as being about our daily struggles, and how these negative experiences shape us – either negatively, for being bad, or positively, for being a learning experience. Phuture Noize went above and beyond with the melody here as well, with the high frequencies really shining through. The build up has an interesting detail with the bass going left and right before the climax. The rap-like vocals in the break between climaxes seems a bit out of place, however the track quickly gets back on track.
5th track in the album is the already well known Sharks. The lyrics are one of the highlights here and once more they can have multiple meanings. For a musician it can represent his or her own ventures in the music industry – a place where you’ll find many “sharks” attempting to feed off of you – or it can simply represent those situations that we’ve all went through where we’re either getting along with the wrong crew, or have people around that want to take advantage of anything we have, whether that’s our possessions or the attention we give those people. The artist sampled waves on the ocean for this track, which is extremely fitting and quite unique. The visuals for this track also match it rather well, with them depicting the ocean and an oil rig, matching the lyrics. The break between climaxes has an eerie element in the background that really gives the track an amazing atmosphere. Having only the vocals just before the climax hits definitely gives it more impact when it drops.
Cause I jumped I too deep
In a raging sea
I am swimming with the sharks
Who’s gonna save me?
The 6th track is the already released 365, which starts with big 80’s vibes and a synthwave feel (this track was meant to be in that genre at first). Other interesting elements are a clock ticking that’s been sampled. The lyrics are once again very good here (sung by someone who’s never done anything related to Hardstyle previously), and the feel they give is enhanced by the visualizer – the city skylines, the speedometer of the car, they all give the impression of intensity and of going full speed non stop and putting in the effort, which is what this track’s all about. Other than that, your classic Phuture Noize elements are there – the on point punchy kicks, balanced by a nicely distorted bassline.
Following up that one is another already well known track – Masquerade. Once again, the rock influences shine through with the drums and the guitar right off the gate, something extremely unique. This is yet another intense track, with the vocals and the melody highlighting this. The lyrics are how about we put ourselves behind these ‘personas’ that we feel that are right, just to make a relationship work. Are we being honest when doing this? Massive for food thought! The melody is a long one that accompanies us through the climax, something that pleased me a lot personally, making this one of my favorites from the album. The second climax makes up for a nice variation of the first and it will certainly make everyone go crazy when played live. Once again the visuals here are very appropriate – with a scenery that’s filled with trash being slowly replaced with a ‘mask‘… which are beautiful fields of green. As a curiosity, and according to the artist, “The drums of this track include teacups and a seat as percussion”.
Break these chains and release me
From this Masquerade
I Am A Fighter represents those moments when we have wrath inside of us. The heavy vocals from Mark Vayne accentuate this overall atmosphere, with the visuals accompanying this very well, depicting non peaceful protests and police intervention in the streets. According to Marco, “This is probably the most complex harmonical track of the album”, and its complexity worked out really well with the monumental melody.
You Could Be My Hero kicks off with a moody intro, with a synthwave style. As far as I can tell, the lyrics are about taking a course of action that we later regret of, realizing it was the worst of our options. The standout element here, and the driving force of the track, is likely the melody. The piano in the background during the break does an amazing contrast with the aggressive melody heard just before.
Silhouette switches things up a bit, going a bit downtempo for the intro. The vocals here are really interesting, and this was achieved with the singer whispering at the microphone, and layering different recordings in a few parts. The track quickly ramps up with a kick that’s not too impacting and just helps keep up the pace. The piano and strings in the break sound amazing and contrast well with the melody that hits high notes. The visuals depict the inner workings of a gun, which somewhat match the lyrics. Their meaning, however, somewhat escapes me this time, but it seems that it talks about someone living in recklessness.
A Fantastic Vibration wraps the album up. The echoey guitar at the start is unique and sounds epic. Listeners aren’t kept waiting for too long before the action commences with the immense melody and yet again, amazing 80’s inspired synths. This track feels faster and rougher than all of the others in the album, and to make up for that there’s a rather smoothing part in the outro, focusing solely on the smoothness of the vocalists’ voice. A nice way to finish the album – In the end we are human, lost in illusions, but forever we move on. We’re not perfect, and that’s ok…. That’s what makes us, us. That’s what makes us human, that’s what gives depth to our personalities.
To wrap this review off, there’s really a lot that could be said. Marco has made something out of the ordinary here: a melody and vocal driven Hardstyle album that’s an absolute emotional roller coaster, with lyrics that are relatable to many listeners, and that also perfectly captures the roughness that is the basis of this genre’s foundation. This unique vision of what Hardstyle should be has not only caught our ears, but also our hearts, and it will certainly be a stepping stone for what’s to come in the next few years.
This is an absolutely wonderful and unique album. Hardstyle history goes back 20 years and never in that 2 decade period has the scene seen an album like this: fresh, with heavy 80’s and synthwave influences, “classic” drums and guitars, with some tracks seemingly being a mashup of pop-rock with Hardstyle, made in some magical way that only Phuture Noize could achieve, with his unique vision. This is something that’s never been done in the harder styles so far and it is completely surreal how elements from such distinct genres fit so well in a Hardstyle album.
To top it all off, the artist not only created an album, but a huge lore around it, so to speak, aided by the impeccable visuals, artworks, and all the communication around the album, with the artist releasing little details about the production process through social media, as well as the meaning behind the lyrics, with many of these tracks being really relatable to pretty much everyone’s experiences in life. in some way or the other.
Despite all this, not all are positives: my biggest gripe with the Black Mirror Society albums still remains – there were no lyrics included in the artwork, nor some sort of booklet with them, something I always find interesting to see on physical albums. However, this isn’t a major issue, and the lack of this small detail was compensated by the two magnificent posters with cool artwork sent to all pre-orders (something normal orders won’t have the luck of having).
Another less positive point is the fact that the visuals for some tracks aren’t quite clear at all times on how they match the lyrics or whatever we’re hearing in general. Marco stated during the visualizer premiere that these have very good stories behind, that we hope to uncover in the coming weeks.
It’s interesting to think back to 10 years ago, as back then nobody would have ever thought that a young guy named Marco, recently signed on the now defunct, legendary Hardcopy imprint, would change the course of the whole genre, but the reality is that he did. I am aware that this is a big claim, however you will understand that this isn’t exactly an overstatement if you listen to the whole album. Phuture Noize singlehandedly redefined what Hardstyle can mean and what it can sound like. Whether you like it or not, Silver Bullet sits amongst the pinnacle of the harder styles and has helped the genre leap forward. In a few years time, this album will be a timeless classic. This piece of work left an undeniable mark on the genre, regardless of if you’re a fan of it or not.
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- Silver Bullet
- A Fantastic Vibration
- It Ain't Easy