Sound — 9
Two years ago, Silverstein released probably what is their most radio-friendly album to date. "Arrivals and Departures" got decent critical reviews, yet most fans just couldn't get into the music. Songs became more poppy, causing vocalist Shane Told to almost completely cut out his screaming vocals. Now, in 2009, Silverstein are back to the front of the Post-Hardcore scene with their new album "A Shipwreck In The Sand". Billed as a concept album, the album is divided into four chapters, spanning fourteen tracks. And while the production quality remains the same, "Shipwreck" shows Silverstein returning to the style found on their breakthrough album, "Discovering the Waterfront" while mixing in the best elements from "Arrivals". The result is, quite simply, the best Silverstein album in four years. Beginning with "A Great Fire", the eery piano at the beginning of the track gives the listener a taste of what to expect during the next 45 minutes. The opening chapter, titled "It Burns Within Us All", is comprised of three tracks of some of Silverstein's heaviest music to date, including a guest appearance by Cancer Ba's vocalist Liam Cormie on the lead single "Vices". The second chapter, "Liars, Cheaters and Thieves", begins with clean guitar chords in "American Dream", a track which will remind listeners of "Discovering the Waterfront", before seguing into the ultra-catchy "I Knew I Couldn't Trust You". The chapter finishes with the excellent "Born Dead", a fast tempo punk song featuring ex-Comeback Kid vocalist Scott Wade. "Fight Fire With Fire", chapter three, begins with the title track of the album. Anyone who has visited the website for this album will recognize the narrative story found during the first minutes of this track. The track is quite simply amazing, for the most part, with the anthemic ending sounding a bit clichd to some listeners. However, the next track, "I Am The Arsonist", is quite simply one of Silverstein's heaviest songs to date. This album features stellar guitar work from Neil Boshart and Josh Bradford, with this track featuring their best guitar work on the album. The riffs wouldn't sound out of place on an 80's death metal record, and the track ends with a first for Silverstein: a breakdown. This track is definately a highlight of the album. The chapter ends with "You're All I Have", a song featuring catchy hooks and some great vocal work by Shane, but otherwise a bit of a dissapointment compared to the rest of the album. The final chapter, entitled "Death and Taxes", begins with "We Are Not The World" and "A Hero Loses Everyday", two great, darker tracks with more poppy elements before seguing into the final track of the album, non-surprisingly titled "The End". While the concept of the song may not be creative (a lengthy acoustic song featuring a guest female vocalist), the song is quite simply, beautiful and a great way to finish this album. The album ends with those same, eery notes heard in "A Great Fire", creating a feeling of full circle on this brilliant record.
Lyrics — 8
Anyone who has listened to Silverstein since "When Broken Is Easily Fixed" can tell just how much the vocals have improved. Thanks to vocal expert Melissa Cros, Shane Told's voice has gone from a whiny clean and a gut wrenching scream to one of his genre's top vocalists. This album also marks the return of screaming after the almost completely clean vocals found on "Arrivals and Departures". This is most evident during the first chapter of the album, and it is also clear just how much his scream has improved. The album also features it's fair share of clean vocals scattered throughout the album. One thing Silverstein have always been good at is finding the perfect balance between clean vocals and screaming, something that the band achieves constantly throughout the album. Overall, Shane has proven to have evolved greatly as a vocalist and this album may be his best performance yet. As already mentioned, "Shipwreck" is the band's first concept album. While it is evident that the record does contain a certain storyline, it only truly becomes evident at the very beginning and very end of the album. Certain listeners may have trouble following the love, fire, betrayal and hate found in the story. As for the lyrics themselves, they are classic Silverstein, though they bring something new to a few songs with guest appearances, including up-and-coming Toronto musician Lights, who makes a beautiful appearance on the final track. While the lyrics may not bring anything new (aside from a somewhat confusing storyline), the lyrics, as with every Silverstein album to date, fit perfectly with the songs, and that really is an important part to making a great album.
Overall Impression — 9
"A Shipwreck In The Sand" is exactly the album Silverstein needed to make after their dissapointing third album. It is an album that will easily get old fans to start listening again, and to get new fans in the process. While the storyline could be seen as confusing, or even pointless, the post-hardcore genre isn't famous for it's amazing narratives. It's about playing the music you love with good lyrics to go with it, something Silverstein has accomplished yet again. While they may not have all the elements of a concept record right yet, "A Shipwreck In The Sand" is definately a step back in the right direction for an extremely promising band.