Taking their name from the Rainbow song "Man on a Silver Mountain", Silver Mountain stormed onto the Swedish hard rock/metal scene in 1983 with their debut Shakin' Brains, now remastered and reissued by Metal Mind Productions. Chances are for many fans here in the US, this might be their first exposure to this band, who, upon first listen, will instantly bring back memories of not only Rainbow, but also of Alcatrazz, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Deep Purple, and Uli Jon Roth.
Silver Mountain was led by guitarist/vocalist Jonas Hansson, whose guitar skills had that certain Blackmore/Malmsteen/Roth flair, and interestingly enough, Yngwie is rumored to have spent some time in an early version of this band. Also along for the ride here on their debut, and further cementing the Rising Force connection, were Jens and Anders Johansson on keyboards & drums, along with bassist Per Stadin. Hansson's vocals sound quite similar to original Rising Force vocalist Jeff Scott Soto, which you can hear right out of the gate on opener "1789", an uptempo rocker with a strong neo-classical feel but some of the vocal sections just don't really seem to work. That problem quickly disappears on the melodic numbers "Aftermath" and "Always", Hansson's guitar playing actually quite inspired, and Jens even gets to strut his stuff with some beefy Hammond riffs and blinding synth solos. "Necrosexual Killer" is straight out of the Deep Purple/Rainbow mold, raging Hammond organ and classical guitar work making for one of the album's heavier moments, which then segues into the equally heavy and galloping "Destruction Song", also noteworty for an especially scorching set of solos from Hansson and Johansson, as the two bring back images of Blackmore & Jon Lord. The intricate "Vikings" follows, a crankin' rocker with some complex guitar licks and busy drum work from Anders, and Jens leads the charge on the Hammond driven "Looking for You". On "Spring Maiden", the band settle into a deep groove, but despite some stellar playing and wicked solos, the song seems a tad too close to Gillan's "Unchain Your Brain" if you listen closely. The tender "King of Sea" quickly takes them into a completely different direction, something more along the lines of the Scorpions classic "Fly to the Rainbow", complete with some stunning Roth-inspired guitar solos. This reissue also includes a bonus track, the Deep Purple-ish "Keep on Keepin' On", another solid Hammond/guitar rocker that is a great addition to this set.
Despite the fact that this is not groundbreakingly original material, it's not hard to grow fond of stuff like this, especially if you grew up on any of the acts mentioned above. Jonas Hansson certainly should have been a guitar hero whose name was on the lips of the masses, but sadly that never quite happened. The rest of the band were extremely solid, and the brothers Johansson obviously went on to bigger and better things with Rising Force, Stratovarius, and Hammerfall in subsequent years. While Hansson's vocals are probably the weakest link here, he brought on board other singers for follow-up releases, with varying degrees of success, but the overall theme of Silver Mountain's music stayed the same.
The moral of the story is, if you hadn't discovered this band back in the early 80's, and you like neo-classical styled hard rock & metal, then you should definitely put Shakin' Brains on your radar. Nice job as always from Metal Mind, as this comes in a colorful digipack with complete lyrics, essay, and a clean remastered sound.
1. 1789 04:05
2. Aftermath 04:09
3. Always 04:14
4. Necrosexual Killer 03:45
5. Destruction Song 03:23
6. Vikings 03:56
7. Looking for You 0 3:51
8. Spring Maiden 03:52
9. King of the Sea 03:41
10. Keep on Keepin' On 04:18 -bonus track