A Beautiful Place To Drown

Written by: AP on 23/05/2020 15:40:10

Like so many others, I went through an emo phase in the mid-naughties as far as my musical interests went, and in those years there was no band that endeared me more than Silverstein. The Canadian post-hardcore outfit had just released their sophomore album “Discovering the Waterfront”, which to this day remains not only a milestone for the genre, but also in my eyes a timeless piece of music that still often figures on my playlist 15 years on. But alas, the band was unable to hold the momentum on subsequent records, and inevitably, they lost me along the way to the point that when this latest offering was announced in the beginning of this year, I honestly believed it was their first since 2015’s “I Am Alive in Everything I Touch”, with “Dead Reflection” two years later passing me by entirely unnoticed. It was above all the Ontarian band’s reluctance to freshen up their sound and adapt to a changing musical climate that lost me, but harbouring such affection for Silverstein’s early records, I still felt drawn toward their ninth and latest offering “A Beautiful Place to Drown” and decided at last to revisit this teenage crush of mine.

It was a wise decision. “A Beautiful Place to Drown” delivers the renaissance I have longed for at last, with a collection of songs that is catchier, more consistent, and ultimately more inventive than anything Silverstein have released in the past 15 years. With both the band and their fans having piled on the years since the youthful immediacy and delectable melodrama of their early works, it would have been absurd if this latest offering still dealt with personal struggles through lyricism such as “I’ll slit my throat with the knife I pulled out of my spine" from the group’s breakthrough single “Smashed into Pieces”, which appears on their 2003 début album “When Broken Is Easily Fixed”. It was somehow acceptable back then, but I don’t think anyone will be deploring vocalist Shane Told’s growth into a more mature, yet still extremely relatable version of himself over the years. If anything, his vocal melodies have never sounded better and from a technical standpoint both his singing and his growls leave little to be desired throughout these twelve songs. Silverstein thus avoid wallowing in nostalgia on “A Beautiful Place to Drown”, and yet those lusting for a return to the style of “Discovering the Waterfront” are also likely to be satisfied by what it has to offer.

Silverstein have released lots of standout singles in the past 15 years, spread out across seven albums, none of which turned out to be particularly impressive front to back. And as such, even though the opening track here, “Bad Habits”, is rendered absolutely irresistible the moment it kicks off with an insistent bass riff by Bill Hamilton coupled with a taste of the chorus, with Told lamenting “I keep chasing bad feelings / I keep breaking down — I never deal with it / Drown ‘cause I don’t wanna swim / I’m good with bad habits”, it originally left me feeling skeptical as to whether the rest of the album would be able to follow suite and hold me captive. But after the 37 minutes the record lasts had clocked in, its hit parade had vaporised all such doubts and left me craving another listen. Indeed, “A Beautiful Place to Drown” finds Silverstein outdoing themselves on all parameters. One thing, as already mentioned, is Told’s voice — now an even farther cry from the nasal moan of his early years, which used to break as soon as he reached for those falsetto notes, but now hits them effortlessly and delivers some of his most electrifying performances yet in the likes of “Infinite”. And the sheer variety of riffs and melodies conceived by guitarists Paul Marc Rousseau & Josh Bradford, not to mention the drum patterns laid down by Paul Koehler in order to cater to a larger set of influences this time will expel your memories of those simple staccato riffs, power chords and punk beats that used to define Silverstein’s style in the ‘00s and early ‘10s.

In order to realise the full potential of their new and fashionable ideas like injecting elements of power-pop and R&B into their music, Silverstein opted to invite a starry caste of guest musicians to help them spice things up. And although, to a cynic, marquee names making cameos might seem like a cheap trick, in reality you might not even have noticed most of their presence thanks to the seamlessness with which they involve themselves in the music instead of sticking out like a sore thumb via segments designed specifically for them. Aaron Marshall aka. Intervals injects some proggy guitar histrionics to the opener “Bad Habits”, while Beartooth vocalist Caleb Shomo’s growls lend additional muscle to the breakdown in the following, A Day to Remember-esque “Burn It Down”. Later on, Underoath drummer & clean singer Aaron Gillespie makes an inspired appearance in “Infinite”, transforming an already grandiose example of modern post-hardcore into something nigh transcendental, before Princess Nokia brings some rap attitude to the likewise infatuating “Madness”, which deserves to be heard in an arena venue. Silverstein’s countrymen in Simple Plan are also featured in the balladic “Take What You Give” which closes the record, but this is perhaps the one cameo here that adds no extra value, as with his present set of pipes, Told could have shouldered the song on his own just as nicely.

Together with the dainty centrepiece “All on Me”, which acts as a playground for Told to explore the R&B style of vocalisation but never resolves to much beyond an intermezzo, it is one of the few missteps on an album that is otherwise ridiculously easy on the ear. And while it is true that “A Beautiful Place to Drown” is not revolutionary with regard to the post-hardcore genre, it would be difficult to a find an album more capable of entrenching itself into your daily humming routine as consistently as it does. Bearing in mind that yours truly swears by avant-garde and extreme metal these days, it takes something special for a post-hardcore band to capture my imagination — even if the band in question used to be dear to me during my late teens. I was not expecting it, but Silverstein achieves exactly that with a record, the infectiousness of which is unlikely to be topped by anything coming out of the genre this year.


Download: Bad Habits, Burn It Down, Infinite, Madness, Stop, September 14th
For the fans of: A Day to Remember, Hawthorne Heights, Senses Fail
Listen: Facebook

Release date 06.03.2020

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