Review: Silverchair, Freak Show (Murmur)

(The Buzz, Melbourne)

Facing the daunting responsibility of the difficult sophomore album, Silverchair one way or another had to come up with something. Freak Show fortunately doesn't sound like the rushed, formulated attempt to desperately keep an audience that you might expect. It's obvious from an initial listen to Freak Show that these guys still have honest exuberance to spare (which still helps blur some of their lesser qualities) and a genuine talent for penning memorable rock songs. So what's new? Here's a rundown of what Freak Show sounds like.

Opener Slave is in the heavy groove vein with crushing stop start guitars and bass/drum only parts with a Korn-like "break-it-down" groove section, climaxing in dissonant guitar melodies before returning to the Sabbath-like groove.

Second song Freak is not unlike the opener but longer and more song orientated, featuring more dissonance in the guitar chords, catchy chorus and messy '90s grunge solo.

Third song Abuse Me is the heavy ballad, with Daniel singing "come on, abuse me more, I like it, keep talking 'cause it's true" before a heavy build up, then breaking into a catchy heavy second chorus. Probably the next single.

Fourth song Lie To Me follows, reading like a textbook Nirvana hardcore one-minute punk exercise. Aggressive vocals from Daniel.

Fifth song No Association is a big '90s drum-heavy, metal workout with some stop-start and strange-timed Korn-like grooves. It's well executed and features some honest sounding screams from Daniel.

The sixth song Cemetery is the string-accompanied eccentric, emotive ballad that doesn't really call for its big production. It's yet another reminder that alternative '90s rock bands should not have access to classical musicians and orchestras.

Seventh song The Door opens with a sitar and bursts into big groove rock with an eastern flavour. It's one of the more upbeat songs on the album.

Eighth song Pop Song For Us Rejects starts out as jangly pop and then gets heavier, evolving into more big grooves. Features Daniel singing "now I'm thinking positive."

Ninth song Learn To Hate starts out with a fairly textbook tortured grunge verse before bursting into an unexpectedly heavy stop-start Helmet-like chorus with '90s hardcore-like yelling. It's a great chorus that really grabs your attention.

Tenth song Petrol & Chlorine opens strongly with sedate middle eastern chords and vocals accompanied with percussion. One of the more experimental songs on the album that almost falls flat because of its pseudo middle eastern touches, but the strong vocal melodies make it great.

Eleventh song Roses obviously sounds like it was written around the opening drum patterns. The verse features drum and bass working together on their own. It's almost another stop-start affair but with a pretty strong and much repeated chorus.

The twelfth song Nobody Came is their finest slice of teenage angst to date and probably the highlight of the album. Features many great build up sections and a good balance between clean tone and heaviness. Daniel's tortured whine is in great form on this track.

Final track, appropriately titled The Closing, starts with sole muted clean guitar and vocals before bursting into more hard-edged angst that borders punk but reigns in groove.

Review: Freak single, silverchair (Murmur)
The Buzz magazine, Melbourne, February 1997

The opening dissonant guitar chords of Freak show a new, decidedly more hard-edged silverchair, but when the "yeah, I'm a freak" chorus refrains, it becomes apparent that silverchair are still as catchy and accessible as they have ever been.

Daniel really draws great vocal melodies out of the new heavier stop-start style and it sounds like there is plenty of enthusiasm in the rhythm section. Their popular cover of Radio Birdman's New Race follows and is energetic and faithful to the original, especially as it features Deniz Tek himself doing the guitar solo.
A studio out-take Punk Song #2 is also included on the single and its status is justified as it's a fair song that just sounds like California punk with some Korn-like heavy groove action going on.