Sound — 10
After the release of their third album, Neon Ballroom, Silverchair looked as if it were in tatters. Lead singer Daniel Johns had only just recovered from anorexia when he was diagnosed with a debilitating and aggressive case of Rhumetoid Arthritis, which left him practically crippled and unable to hold a guitar, let alone play it. However, with the help of modern medicine Johns was able to recover and extensively tour for Silverchair's fourth and most complete album to date, Diorama. Diorama boasts Silverchair's biggest and best sound to date, including full orchestral arrangements, tremendously strong vocals from Daniel Johns and, interesting and complex song structures. Those familiar with previous works of the band will recognise heavy rock feel of the albums and the strong grunge influences that helped shape the music. Diorama moves away from those influences in most instances, opting to replace distorted guitars with intricate orchestral arrangements, and gutteral, grungy vocals for impressive and powerful signing. The essence of the new direction of Silverchair is possibly most significantly captured in the song "Across the Night", possibly the best song on the album and singer Daniel Johns' favourite. The song moves through two different sections and finishes with an absolute band, and an impressive display of vocals. Other songs like "The Greatest View", "World Upon Your Shoulders" and "After All These Years" are catchy songs and make for great single releases. The song "One Way Mule" is very heavy and distorted and resembles something of a metal-underground band release. Rather than contrasting nicely to the softer and subtler songs, this song seems to be out of place on Diorama. This song aside, the album is fantastic. The songs are connected and sound great together. The hidden track at the end of the album which just features Daniel Johns playing piano is also an absolute jem.
Lyrics — 8
As could be guessed, most of the songs on Diorama are about overcoming hardships and reflecting on these hardships. The song "After All These Years" is a direct reflection on Johns' battle with anorexia. It completes the picture portrayed by "Ana's Song", a song featured on Neon Ballroom, which is a comment on anorexia when Johns was suffering most from the eating disorder. Unlike previous albums, the songs on Diorama have a definite poetic nature. Johns was always able to convey his message clearly, but never in a poetic fashion. Diorama shows this definite progression in his skills as a songwriter. However, many of these lyrics are very abstract and Johns can sometimes alientate his audience with weird symbolism and metaphors, leaving the audience in two minds as to what he is actually singing about. In many cases though, it wouldn't matter if Johns was singing about cleaning the toilet because his delivery of those lyrics is astonishing. Diorama is possibly one of the best displays of singing on a rock album in recent times. Johns sings with the presence of Bono and the power of "The Three Tenors". Although his lyrics may sometimes complicate things, Johns' singing will always captivate an audience. The lyrics are an overall positive and triumphant experience, which is welcomed warmly. These positive lyrics are far removed from the teenage angst displayed in "Pop Song For Us Rejects" and "Suicidal Dream".
Overall Impression — 10
Diorama is undoubtedly the best Silverchair album to date. Unlike most teenage bands who acheived stardom, Silverchair have continued to progress over the years and have created an album of immense worth. Although Johns' lyrics can sometimes leave the audience slightly confused, the overall delivery is brilliant. However, although Diorama shows an immense development in the band, Silverchair need to let go of their grunge roots. And those so-called fans who are unable to accept this album need to wake up to this fact: Silverchair is never going to change because you do not like them. The band has always been progressing and will continue to progress far into the future. Overall, Diorama is a great album and shows the immense talent of frontman Daniel Johns. Those who do not have a copy should promptly invest in one!