mars 28th, 2020

liner notes for ”breakin’ chains”

Most of you who have picked up this CD will fondly remember the days when the mention of a new heavy metal band from Sweden resulted in a thrilling electric shock to the nervous system. Swedish Metal always had its ”sound”, its ”feel” a unique creativity injected with tremendous energy and often tingling rawness, but always with plenty of huge hooks, riffs and terrific melodies. And make no mistake, this sound owes its origin, itís claim to fame, to Silver Mountain!

While early seventies hard rock acts like November showed that Sweden could rock, they were overshadowed by the pop music in the likes of Abba. Then, in the early 80s, the hard rock movement in this Nordic landscape finally set new traditions and standards. No band defined this clearer than a little Swedish four-piece called Silver Mountain.They quickly became to Sweden what Metallica were to the US, and Iron Maiden were to England. Formed in the late seventies by guitar virtuoso Jonas Hansson, whose influences ranged from Rainbow to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Silver Mountain rapidly scaled the ladder to became the new heroes of the Swedish metal explosion of a decade when heavy metal ruled the planet.

I can still recall hearing their debut album for the first time. Unrestricted by any misleading musical categories, the album was simply fantastic hard rock! We all had their demos. Tapes that have been circulating among the metal brigades for years along with demos from Metallica, Mercyful Fate, and other luminaries of the era. The metal press from fanzines like Metal Rendezvous to the mainstream press of Kerrang! was jumping all over this band. But finally in 1983, holding Shakin’ Brains in my hands was a highlight and dream come true. This debut album became a staple of the Swedish heavy metal movement by breaking down barriers with its spontaneous and uncompromising delivery and that unique “Swedish sound.” Hard rock did not have to be British or American any more. ”Aftermath”, ”Always,” and ”Vikings”. We all remember those classics! Musically, the four mountaineers were unparalleled masters of their skill! The guitar work of Jonas bordered on pure genius, the drumming of Anders Johansson became legendary. Keyboardist Jens Johansson recalled the glorious days of early Rainbow, and the many talents of bassist Per Stadin still amaze!

This versatility and musical brilliance actually led to the all too early downfall of the band. The individual members became much sought after musicians. The Johansson brothers were quickly grabbed up by the surging Rising Force Band headed by the ”other” Swedish guitar legend, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, and the core of the band fell apart. By 1985′s Universe, the band lost its momentum and gave way to a whole new generation of contenders like Torch, Overdrive, Candlemass, the immensely successful Europe, and later the likes of Tad Morose, Morgana Lefay, Midnight Sun, Nocturnal Rites and an avalanche of bands in the dark metal movement. All these bands had one thing in common: they had their paths paved by the Silver Mountain legacy!

In 1988 Silver Mountain did one last album ”Roses & Champagne”

As time went on, the four musicians went on to a variety of musical careers and successes. The Johansson brothers had gone on to perform and/or collaborate with a number of Internationally established and respected artists such as Ronnie James Dio, Ritchie Blackmore, Allan Holdsworth, Jonas Hellborg, Yngwie Malmsteen, Ginger Baker, and many others. Various solo projects individually and together graced the nineties until Jens settled with Stratovarius. Anders today is an integral part of Swedenís latest heavy metal heroes Hammerfall. Per is involved with his own project; Snake Charmer, and has collaborated with the likes of Glenn Hughes. And Jonas himself released a series of stirring solo albums (with the members from ”Alcatrazz etc.”) that kept the spirit of their early work alive and was an integral part of making this new CD a reality, as he played the role of writer, producer, musician, as well as video director (Jonas produced and directed the video for the album track “Prophet Of Doom.”)

The CD you are now holding is the ultimate tribute! Not to the band (the musicianís reputation and current successes take care of that) but to the many fans around the globe hungry for nostalgia, days when heavy metal wasn’t labeled and categorized. Each band member took time away from their current projects to put this CD together for their old fans and a new generation alike. These are brand new recordings of some old favorites and some old rarities! Originally written for the band’s earliest demos, this album is full of hook-filled songs, recorded in Sweden, New York and Los Angeles with the classic, legendary lineup. Itís an album that bristles with high energy and excitement! Songs that hammer intense melodies and earthshaking riffs into your head; all the songs leave you breathless, exhausted but happy, just like they did twenty years ago.
It makes nostalgia relevant, yet equally makes you long for the glorious days of yesteryear!

But lest we get too sentimental, let’s remember again that each member of Silver Mountain is still going strong. And let’s also remember that Silver Mountain have found their own comfortable niche in rock’s history, an ultimate testament to Swedish Metal, transcendental in their fluency, skill and adaptability. If anything, the glorious saga of Silver Mountain has now come full circle with the release of Breakin’ Chains. Long live rock’n roll,
long live Swedish Metal, long live the memory of Silver Mountain!

John Strednansky
APRIL 2001

And there is more to come…..