Archive for category Screamo/Emo

Silverstein: This Is How The Wind Shifts Review

Here’s the review for Silverstein’s sixth full-length album, “This Is How The Wind Shifts!” Like I’ve mentioned in a few posts already, this blog has been turned into a full website and I won’t be posting reviews here in the future. But if you want to read this review and over 120 other rock album reviews, head over to the new Diamond In The Rock site or click here to read the Silverstein review!

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Silverstein: Discovering The Waterfront Review

The rugged post-hardcore style of Silverstein’s debut was a decent entry into the genre, but their iconic sophomore album Discovering The Waterfront redefines the band and their place amongst their screamo peers. From crisper unclean vocals to more developed and fine-tuned melody, lead singer Shane Told steps his game up in every facet to accompany smart guitar riffs, frantic drumming and an infectious amount of energy that straddles the line between being heavy and being overwhelming. And because of the band’s dexterity in fluidly transitioning between aggressively hardcore and likable harmony, Silverstein delivers a phenomenal second record that would have impressed even without its instantly quotable lyricism. Discovering The Waterfront is not the most profound album in all of rock music, but it’s certainly one of the defining (and in fans’ eyes, most endearing) works to ever grace the screamo genre.

Standout Tracks

Following a high-octane, vivacious leadoff track, “Smile In Your Sleep” keeps the tempo up but also offers a better look at the band’s intelligent songwriting and the powerful emotions behind it. For each brooding chorus characterized with Neil Boshart and Josh Bradford’s pensive guitar riffs, Told paints the scene set to Paul Koehler’s composed drumming. But as the tension builds and Told’s distrust grows, each chorus erupts into a dramatic burst of passion and desperation that shows Told renounce the liar he loves. Between the raw angst of the lyrics and its masterful composition, “Smile In Your Sleep” is an instant classic that embodies Discovering The Waterfront as a whole.

Showcasing their lyrical prowess, “Discovering The Waterfront” is without a doubt one of the finest song in Silverstein’s song library. A heartfelt ballad about moving on from heartbreak, this gem is made memorably by Told’s strenuous vocal performance conveying urgent emotion as Billy Hamilton’s contemplative bass fills each relaxing verse. The chorus lets the emotion pour forth as Told cries out, “I won’t forget you , I’m not gonna let you win / But I’m tired of lying, tired of fighting you and it’s not gonna change.”

While not quite as dynamic or emotional as some of Discovering The Waterfront‘s other offerings, “My Heroine” displays a skilled mix of heavier passions and more subtle melodies to create something uniquely engaging. The hardcore influence is feautured prominently here, but each lighter counterpart of clean vocals balances things nicely as a testament to Silverstein’s ability to include post-hardcore concepts without overpowering a song’s catchy nature or the audience.

The Verdict

When Broken Is Easily Fixed was a decent debut for what it was, but Discovering The Waterfront is Silverstein’s masterpiece. The studio production is better, the clean and unclean vocals are more refined and every buzzing guitar hook and heavy drum beat rings out with clarity and sentiment. But the band’s maturity and skill have progressed as well, as prolific songwriting and lyricism enhances the powerful emotions behind the music. Told impresses in his fluctuation between angry growls and endearing cooing, which allows him a broader range in setting the dramatic mood for each song. This raw intensity is expressed both through throaty screams and softer singing, but both are effective in conveying the intended swirl of feelings: desperation, sadness and yet, hope for the future. Fans of Hawthorne Heights, Alesana, Senses Fail, From First To Last, Underoath, Spitalfield, Story Of The Year, A Day To Remember and Stutterfly will be right at home with this instant classic, which is enough to propel Silverstein to the front of the screamo genre. Straddling the border between catchy and hardcore is a delicate tightrope act that is part of the joy of the post-hardcore genre, but Silverstein passes with flying colors with Discovering The Waterfront.

Final Score: 9.1/10

Rank: 2nd (six total albums)

Track List

  1. Your Sword Versus My Dagger
  2. Smile In Your Sleep
  3. The Ides Of March
  4. Fist Wrapped In Blood
  5. Discovering The Waterfront
  6. Defend You
  7. My Heroine
  8. Always And Never
  9. Already Dead
  10. Three Hours Back
  11. Call It Karma
  12. Rodeo Clown

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Alesana: A Place Where The Sun Is Silent Review

Not many post-hardcore acts are capable of crafting an album that possesses both artistic poise and the heavy components that define the genre, but Alesana does it better than most. Following the chilling original story told with their third album, The Emptiness, Alesana returns with another haunting tale inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the themes of sin and damnation with the release of their fourth album, A Place Where The Sun Is Silent. And although this latest album doesn’t quite match the storytelling pinnacle of The Emptiness, it marks the band’s most diverse effort and their best work to date. From the poetic lyricism and dramatic thematic content to its polished hardcore style mixed with orchestral elements, A Place Where The Sun Is Silent expands Alesana’s sound into something more profound and artistic. At just over an hour of play time, this newest album takes its time in continuing the saga of Annabelle and the doomed artist from The Emptiness, as he wanders the underworld after his demise, despairing in his futile search for redemption and self-acceptance in this “place where the sun is silent.” The creepy voiceovers return along with new spoken Italian intros, giving the listener the feeling of experiencing a tragic play as each twist and turn thrusts the doomed protagonist further into the realm of sin and insanity. Yet somehow, even with these dark themes and ideas being thrown around, A Place Where The Sun Is Silent manages to be Alesana’s lightest and most enjoyable material.

Standout Tracks

“Circle VII: Sins Of The Lion” is one of many intense and well-composed songs on the album, but this epic track separates itself from the rest of the pack with rapid-fire drumming from Jeremy Bryan and jaw-droppingly quick guitar chugging from Patrick Thompson and Alex Torres. Dennis Lee’s unclean vocals are appropriately brutal when they need to be, but don’t dominate the proceedings and showcase how Alesana is one of the few post-hardcore acts that can be accessed by a wider audience. Lead singer Shawn Milke’s vocals are crisp and urgent as the protagonist confronts the lover who betrayed him, yet the chorus is incredibly catchy and the song as a whole displays the band’s high level of artistry and composition.

Lullaby For The Crucified” intertwines the themes of damnation and tragic love as the tormented artist inexplicably longs for his Annabelle, the very person who sealed his doom. He begins to accept his insanity and his fate as Milke realizes “I’m tired of waiting / If there’s nothing that I can do / A pitiful lullaby to sing the tortured to sleep.” Shane Crump’s subtle bass is superb, but may be overlooked by the dazzling and almost bluesy guitar hooks that intricately layer another complex and dramatic track. The drama reaches its peak as the addition of background unclean vocals and another Italian voiceover builds into an epic bridge filled with white-hot guitar riffs, desperate screams and the haunting, harmonizing choir that fades the song out.

The Verdict

A Place Where The Sun Is Silent mixes a variety of influences and genres into their post-hardcore sound, resulting in an intriguing and aesthetically pleasing album that any rock fan can enjoy, which is an impressive rarity in the genre. Alesana took their raw and forgettable sound and polished it up with The Emptiness, but this newest album blows their past work out of the water in every area. Milke’s clean vocals have never been sweeter, the thematic content has never been more compelling and the overall package has never sounded better. From the mix of high-pitched shrieks to the brutally guttural growls that comprise the unclean vocals to blazing guitar riffs, Alesana proves their value as a post-hardcore band. But what elevates them to something more meaningful are the subtle touches of artistry that make their lyrics and thematic content more vibrant, such as the jazzy guitar riffs and big band brass of “A Forbidden Dance,” the harmonizing choir vocals in the background of “Hand In Hand With The Damned” and the strings, piano and female vocals of the beautiful but unnerving ballad “Vestige.” And although Alesana displays their knack for creating epic and haunting songs on the heavier side of the post-hardcore spectrum, the overall sound of A Place Where The Sun Is Silent is lighter than any of their past work. Yet this new album will stand as their most masterful, because when the themes of doomed love, despair and damnation develop into insanity and an ultimate acceptance of the protagonist’s tragic fate (“Insanity is whispering to me”), the result is a prevalently devastating and thought-provoking experience. Fans of Hawthorne Heights, Sleeping With Sirens, Silverstein, Blessthefall, Asking Alexandria, We Came As Romans, Motionless In White, Attack Attack!, A Skylit Drive and I See Stars will surely appreciate this band’s exquisite grasp not only on how to fit in with the post-hardcore genre, but how to surpass it for something greater.

Final Score: 9/10

Rank: 1st (four total albums)

Track List

  1. The Dark Wood Of Error
  2. A Forbidden Dance
  3. Hand In Hand With The Damned
  4. Beyond The Sacred Glass
  5. The Temptress
  6. Circle VII: Sins Of The Lion
  7. Vestige
  8. Lullaby Of The Crucified
  9. Before Him All Shall Scatter
  10. Labyrinth
  11. The Fiend
  12. Welcome To The Vanity Faire
  13. The Wanderer
  14. A Gilded Masquerade
  15. The Best Laid Plans Of Mice And Marionettes
  16. And Now For The Final Illusion

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A Change Of Pace: Prepare The Masses Review

A Change Of Pace is an extremely underrated alternative rock/emo band that pumped out two stellar records before losing their way for a bit with the departure of lead vocalist Torry Jasper. Their third album without Jasper favored a lighter, catchier dynamic but was so horrendous that it appeared A Change Of Pace was all but finished. All the hardcore elements of the music were long gone with the departure of Jasper and the quality of music and vocals dramatically suffered. However, ACOP fans can rejoice with the hope that this once great band may return to winning form as they have reunited with Jasper to attempt funding a fourth album. In anticipation of this upcoming album, taking a look at the A Change Of Pace’s greatest effort might shed some light on the future and what fans should be hoping for. Because the band’s 2006 sophomore album, Prepare The Masses, narrowly edges their harder debut album as their most polished and aesthetically pleasing effort.

Standout Tracks

“Prepare The Masses” kicks off with the sound of marching and battle drums before erupting into an upbeat and fun opener loaded with Romeo and Juliet references. Jasper’s crisp voice singing about doomed and tragic love make for one of the catchiest choruses of the album as he harmonizes “Sing me to sleep tonight, sweet Juliet / Two star-crossed lovers marry looking for regrets/ By daybreak I’ll be gone and searching for your kiss / Leave me a drop of poison waiting on your lips.” The balance between the tragedy of love and the impending war that will result from their demise makes for a stellar opener. It also displays Jonathan Kelley’s creativity with some nifty drum beats as a good complement to the deep electric whine of Adam Rodgers and Dan Parker’s guitars.

Shoot From The Hip” tops “Death Do Us Part” as A Change Of Pace’s best song of all time, immediately drawing listeners in with a group chant of fluctuating “Whoa”‘s that characterizes this superb track for its entire duration. This recurring chant builds up before erupting into an indignant, spite-infused song about that is brutally honest about heartbreak, complete with fast-paced drumming and repetitively addicting guitar riffs. Jasper’s high-pitched vocals also help this song stand out as the album’s best as he declares “Heartbreak baby is half the fun / Bring the bullets, I’ll bring the guns / Take ten steps now turn and draw / I shoot from the hip then watch you fall.”

“Weekend Warriors” switches up the tempo again with one of the band’s best songs on pop punk side of their music. “Weekend Warriors” isn’t this group’s most artistic work, but its spunky and fun-loving approach is a welcome addition to give Prepare The Masses further variety and lighten the mood. This song is simple, but gives listeners a look at A Change Of Pace at their catchiest, which is a frequency that makes them more accessible to a broader audience.

The Verdict

A Change Of Pace downplayed the hardcore elements of their music in their sophomore album, but surprisingly, the quality didn’t suffer for it. In fact, “How To Rape A Country” is the only song on the record to employ the use of screaming (which makes for an awesomely aggressive, head-banging track) but even so, Prepare The Masses stands as the band’s finest work. The guitars and drums are more polished, Jasper’s vocals are as flamboyant as ever and the finished product has a much more refined feel to it. An Offer You Can’t Refuse was an impressive debut album, but lacked a true identity due to the extreme polarity between the band’s lighter, catchy songs and heavier emo tracks. Prepare The Masses establishes a more succinct balance between the two in favor of the lighter side, but doesn’t completely turn its back on the entertainingly aggressive elements that make A Change Of Pace so appealing. From the pop punk influence found in “I’m Alive” to the hardcore presence of “How To Rape A Country;” from the sexually charged “War In Your Bedroom” to the outright rock and roll of “I Wanna Be Your Rock & Roll,” A Change Of Pace brings energy, fun and fist-pumping rock anthems for anyone to enjoy. Fans of bands like Mayday Parade, A Day To Remember, All Time Low, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Yellowcard, Hit The Lights, New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Sugarcult and Hawthorne Heights should all find something noteworthy here as fans eagerly anticipate (and contribute to) the making of the band’s next album.

Final Score: 8/10

Rank: 1st (three total albums)

Track List

  1. Prepare The Masses
  2. How To Rape A Country
  3. I’m Alive
  4. Shoot From The Hip
  5. Weekend Warriors
  6. White Lines And Lipstick
  7. A Song The World Can Sing Out Loud
  8. Take Care
  9. War In Your Bedroom
  10. I Wanna Be Your Rock & Roll
  11. Recipe For Disaster
  12. Safe And Sound In Phone Lines

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