Friday, October 15, 2010

Rough Silk Band - The Obscure Gem

Rough Silk image
Rough Silk is a very melodic heavy metal band from Germany. It has been a favorite band of ours for quite a long time and having in mind that it is undeservedly unknown especially compared to many others not so gifted and unique competitors, we decided to write a few words about it. Rough Silk present a very unique sound by playing heavy metal with a variety of melodic parts. One could describe the band as a heavier version of Queen - it is easily recognizable, yet it has a pretty varied catalogue of songs. It's a band with a rare name that completely suits its style.

Rough Silk Biography
Rough Silk has been founded in 1989 by Ferdy Doernberg, a skilful keyboard and guitar player who has played or still plays (on stage or in studio) with many famous musicians including Axel Rudi Pell, Uli John Roth, Destruction, Gamma Ray, Jeff Scott Soto, etc. Since 1989 the band has changed several line-ups (with Doernberg being its only constant member) and it has released 8 studio albums of original material.

Rough Silk's founding members apart from Ferdy Doernberg playing keyboards, slide-guitars and vocals were Jan Barnett (lead vocals and guitars), Hilmer Staake (guitars), Ralf Schwertner (bass and vocals) and Herbert Hartmann (drums and vocals). During the years, the band built up some reputation touring a lot and supporting rock acts like Deep Purple, Whitesnake, DIO, Helloween, Accept, Savatage, Saxon and some others.

The band first two albums were Roots of Hate and Walls of Never issued in 1993 and 1994 respectively. While being quite a good heavy metal records on their own, they still were not displaying the band's full potential. After their release, the line-up changes started and there were not 2 consecutive albums with a same line-up anymore.

The subsequent 2 efforts Circle Of Pain... ...Or: The Secret Lies of Timekeeping and Mephisto brought Rough Silk to a new quality level with each of them presenting a different face of the band. While Circle of Pain released in 1996 showed their masterful melodic side with a variety of memorable songs, Mephisto released in 1997 displayed the band's more experimental side. Both albums contained a number of well-crafted songs and gained new followers of the band. About this time, the band had its first European tour with Savatage.

The next album Beyond the Sundown was recorded and released in 1998 with a new lead singer after Jan Barnett left the band and was substituted with Thomas Ludolphy. The album continued to be somehow experimental in the vein of Mephisto and also included some nice melodic (and slow) tracks. Their first (and currently last) "Best Of" album followed in 1999. It was titled Wheels of Time and comprised of 2 discs containing the majority although not all of their most appealing songs. The 6th studio album Symphony of Life was released in 2001 and its musical content was closer to Circle of Pain than to the last 2 more experimental efforts. It was more in the vicinity of the classic heavy metal and it included a guest appearance on the song "Lucifer" by Jon Oliva from Savatage who also co-produced the album. Rough Silk supported Savatage again in Europe upon their special request.

In 2002, the lead singer Thomas Ludolphy left the band because of personal reasons. The rest of Rough Silk's members decided not to look for a new lead vocal. They released their 7th studio album End of Infinity with Doernberg, Hartmann and Wunderlich sharing the lead vocals duty. The album was not so bad but it lacked the quality of the previous 4 studio records. Probably, the musicians felt the lack of new ideas and song craftsmanship also because after the release of End of Infinity, the band was put to an end. At least for some time...

After playing for several years on numerous studio records and live shows of various performers as well as continuing his long-term participation in Axel Rudi Pell's band, Ferdy Doernberg started to look for new musicians in order to create a new metal outfit. He teamed up with Mike Mandel (guitars), André Hort (bass) and Alex Wenn (drums) and as you might guess the new band was called Rough Silk. But this said, the succeeding album was titled A New Beginning, an appropriate title for the new reincarnation.

Rough Silk Discography
Roots of Hate '93
Walls of Never '94
Circle of Pain... ...Or: The Secret Lies of Timekeeping '96
Mephisto '97
Beyond the Sundown '98
Wheels of Time (Best Of album) '99
Symphony of Life '01
End of Infinity '03
A New Beginning '09

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