Friday, May 29, 2020

Silverstein: “A Beautiful Place To Drown” is a fresh cell treatment for post-hardcore

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AThe big party is over on the day the most important Silverstein album of the past ten years is released. It is mid-February, shortly before the exit restrictions, and the band celebrates its 20th anniversary, which is celebrated in the legendary Berlin SO36, which was sold out weeks ago. There is a set of almost three hours, the really big hits, people who are in their arms, people who are jumping against their shoulders, all text-sure, all very happy or very depressed, but at the very least at the same time, a party that can be called a party, and also a historical concert, which can also be understood as an illustrative performance for the importance of the band.

20 years of Silverstein – and there is actually no one in the post-hardcore scene who does not like or at least appreciate this band for what they have done in their careers: nine regular studio albums, at least two of which are certified as classic The underground has always remained true to the roots, the band’s niche phenomenon Screamo flourished at the beginning of the 2000s, and Silverstein now has well over 2,300 shows that have been performed all over the world. In other words, they have been on the stage every evening for more than six years, and there is not much more you can devote your life to for the good cause, i.e. rock’n’roll.

So 20 years of Silverstein. But if you want to understand why the new album entitled “A Beautiful Place To Drown” is such an important album for the band, you have to understand what the band actually stands for, and to explain that, a picture and a story. The picture is the cover of the band’s first, very great album, it shows a very sad robot holding its ripped robot heart in hand and could not better capture the band’s attitude towards life.

The album is called When Broken Is Easily Fixed, and you have to know that broken things (mostly hearts) can never be healed in the world of Silverstein, and every single album, almost every single song represents the musical processing of this knowledge. The emotional range between anger and grief, hope and despair, love and hate, dream worlds and deletion fantasies are reflected in the performance of singer Shane Told, which alternates between guttural shoutin parts and clean vocals, which thus anchors emotional eminence in the songs.

The said story, on the other hand, is the story of the song “Already Dead”, which is on the band’s second (and best) album, and this story relates to the songwriting process for the song. Singer Told had just started reading Alice Sebold’s novel “In My Heaven” and then wrote the track, and at some point the track was finished and Told finally finished reading the book and then came to the conclusion that he was in his song, as far as the further course of the book is concerned, “very, very terribly wrong”. That’s right, because if you’ve read the book and heard the song about the book, you know that Told probably only knew the first seven pages before writing his lyrics.

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The story illustrates the often extreme polarity between claim and result. Silverstein have never been satisfied with simple song ideas: interpersonal disappointments have been elevated to tragedies of historical proportions, the feeling of being betrayed is equated to the Caesaric murder in ancient Rome, an unhappy love gets a Shakespearean format with fantasized suicide in the end, and the songs on the concept album “I Am Alive in Everything I Touch” the band divided into four directions on the drawing board, which should all have their own atmospheric sound.

In the end there was an album with 12 songs, all of which were very good, but absolutely indistinguishable. From this field of tension of the highest standards and the failure of these standards, there is an energy that the band has worn over eight albums so far and for which they are so loved by their fans. Because even if the plans don’t always work out, the wreckage always creates absolute song pearls.

One should die where it is most beautiful

This month Silverstein have released a new album. It’s called “A Beautiful Place To Drown”, and what sounds like an end is actually a new beginning. For the first time in their 20-year career as a band, they obviously had the freedom to forego unreachable concepts, find the big things lyrically, and simply venture more into musical experiments. Silverstein still sound like Silverstein, but now focus on features, finely sprinkled samples, much broader pop bonds, and even a short saxophone solo strays on the fluid “All On Me”, the highlight of the album.

That doesn’t make “A Beautiful Place To Drown” the best work of the Canadians in total, but it shows that on album number nine they are ready for the first time to really allow new impulses, to experiment and to break in well-established structures that are part of the dusty post-hardcore give a completely new vitality in the 2000s without denying your roots too much.

The fresh cell cure will only make itself felt in the upcoming works, so “A Beautiful Place To Drown” primarily marks a turning point in the band’s history. As a fan you shouldn’t worry too much about the soul of the group. Lines like 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 should remain a guarantee that you can continue to prepare for the soundtrack for long nights with broken hearts and too much red wine. Dying, optionally by drowning, should be done where it is most beautiful. Fortunately, Silverstein has not yet reached this point.

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