ALBUM REVIEW: Silverstein’s “A Beautiful Place to Drown” revitalizes post-hardcore with some new elements

Silverstein is a band that defines the word “consistency.” Over two decades, the Ontario quintet has managed to put out several albums that hallmarked a signature emo rock/post-hardcore blend while incorporating either musical trends that were popular at the time or entirely unorthodox influences that inspired other bands to follow suit. Simply put, they’re living legends in the alternative rock scene. When the tracklisting was announced for their ninth studio album, several guest artists were featured and brought some concern upon die-hards. Guest artists are not commonly featured so prominently on an album, and to bring FIVE on a standard LP was a shock to veterans of the music community. Needless to say, if you were a bit skeptical beforehand, fear not. A Beautiful Place to Drown keeps the distinctive Silverstein sound while bringing in several guest artists to celebrate one of the most successful units in post-hardcore music.

 

“Bad Habits” is the first song on the record, and is akin to many of the songs off of the band’s previous album Dead Reflection. Featuring Aaron Marshall of Intervals, the song progresses from the verse-chorus formula to introduce a shredding solo that is not too common in this genre. The song really opens up the rest of the album and proves to the listener that this is very much Silverstein, but that they have a few tricks up their sleeve. “Burn It Down” is the second track on the record and the song that has been out the longest to the public. The song follows a cut-and-dry formula and features a short verse by Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo. The chorus is catchy enough to sing along by the end of the runtime, and the breakdown is very much like a current Beartooth breakdown (pretty good, but leaves you wanting more). This is the closest to Silvertooth that we will ever get, and it delivers for the most part. “Where Are You” follows up the second collaboration on the album, and takes on a chugging chorus and signature Shane Told melody to bring back memories of songs on A Midwestern State of Emergency.

 

“Infinite”, the fourth track on the album, features Aaron Gillespie of Underoath (he is virtually indecipherable in my opinion, so this feature was pretty much useless) and delivers yet another catchy chorus that we have come to know and love from the Canadian five-piece. This song is actually one of the weaker ones on the album, and that is saying something because I personally like this song for what it is. “Shape Shift” brings us back to solo Silverstein and incorporates some electronics in the background for an anthemic chorus (electronics have recurred in most parts of the record at this point, but they are more evident here).

 

“All on Me” takes a more subdued approach to the instrumentals before bursting into an enormous chorus. It is a bit of a different take on a song as the switch flips from soft verse to hard-hitting chorus several times, but the highlight of this song is the horn section that was included in the back half of the track. It is not prominent, but it adds to the atmosphere in a way that few horn sections have been able to utilize in hard rock bands. “Madness” is the next track on the record, featuring hip-hop artist Princess Nokia, and this may be the most unusual track on the record in that it is vastly different from what we have heard at this point. This is a primarily heavy track and features a lot of screaming from Told. The chorus on this song is the best on the entire record in my opinion. Princess Nokia’s feature on this song fits like a glove, and it erupts into a breakdown that is a highlight of A Beautiful Place to Drown in its entirety. “Say Yes” follows up this tried-and-true post-hardcore song with a pop-punk instrumental that I did not feel fit in the entire scope of the record. Some cliché lyrics as well make this song pale in comparison to the first half of the album.

 

“Stop” has the most memorable riff from the entire album and really brings the energy that the aforementioned “Say Yes” lacked. I honestly feel like this song could fit on Danger Days by My Chemical Romance, and I mean that in the most honorable way. There is just enough hard rock tinge on it to bring light of the alternative rock scene while remaining accessible. That breakdown will also be a top-five Silverstein memory if they ever promote this song. “September 14th moves more towards the band’s punk roots and has a chorus that sounds influenced by blink-182. (You can say this for the whole song, to be honest.) At this point, electronics are mostly gone, save for touch-ups here and there, and the back half of the album is stocked with classic Silverstein sound.

 

“Coming Down” is more similar to Dead Reflection’s overall sound and has some of the best verses on the record. Told has a knack of shoving words into verses even if they do not necessarily fit, but there is a lot of room to breathe on this song and is where he shines the brightest as a vocalist, in my opinion. The final song, “Take What You Give” features none other than Simple Plan vocalist (and Canadian music legend) Pierre Bouvier. It is a fitting conclusion to the record, as it is a light, airy instrumental that

 

Overall, Silverstein has delivered yet again in a time period where bands are obsessed with finding the next trend-centric style and milking it to death. The fact that Silverstein has been writing music for two decades and still remaining as big as they are today should be the poster child of sticking to a sound for these other bands, but nobody said a little experimentation would hurt. If it is not broke, why would you fix it?

 

I give A Beautiful Place to Drown a 9.5 out of 10.

 

If you do not want to listen to the whole record but want to know what it is like, listen to “Where Are You”, “Madness (feat. Princess Nokia)”, and “September 14th”.

 

A Beautiful Place to Drown will be available everywhere you can experience music on March 6th via UNFD.

 

Tracklisting:

  1. Bad Habits (feat. Intervals)
  2. Burn It Down (feat. Caleb Shomo)
  3. Where Are You
  4. Infinite (feat. Aaron Gillespie)
  5. Shape Shift
  6. All on Me
  7. Madness (feat. Princess Nokia)
  8. Say Yes
  9. Stop
  10. September 14th
  11. Coming Down
  12. Take What You Give (feat. Pierre Bouvier)

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