Sound — 7
Silverstein formed in 2000 in Ontario, Canada, and at the time they were mostly categorized as an emo band, though their sound has matured over the years. The band is named after the children's book author, Shel Silverstein, who is most known for his story "The Giving Tree" and his book of poetry "Where the Sidewalk Ends." The band has had a consistent lineup except for replacing their lead guitarist in 2001 due to their original guitarist decided to seek education and employment in engineering, and then his replacement, Neil Boshart, left the band in 2012 to be replaced by Paul Marc Rousseau. "I Am Alive in Everything" is the band's eighth studio album, and contains 12 tracks broken into 4 parts - "Borealis," "Austeralis," "Zephyrus," and "Eurus." Each part of the album was recorded at a different locale, with each section corresponding with a direction, and the theme of the album being that isolation follows you. Each part contains three tracks with a total runtime of just over 40 minutes for the entire album. The track, "A Midwestern State of Emergency," was released as a music video in January, though it hasn't actually been called a "single." The second track released from the album was, "Milestone," which was released as a lyric video in March.
"Borealis" is the first section of the album, which corresponds with the North, and contains the tracks, "Toronto (Abridged)," "A Midwestern State of Emergency," and "Face of the Earth." The album opens with the track, "Toronto (Abridged)," which has the sounds of the city street joined by an acoustic guitar - at only 45 seconds, the track doesn't get very far, it is more setting the ambiance of the album. "A Midwestern State of Emergency" opens with a kick, and is an intense track, though with an extremely catchy lyrical hook in the chorus. "Face of the Earth" does an excellent job mixing the band's hardcore and punk rock influences.
"Austeralis" is the second section of the album, which corresponds with the South, and contains the tracks, "Heaven, Hell and Purgatory," "Buried at Sea," and "Late on 6th." "Heaven, Hell and Purgatory" is possibly the heaviest track on the album, and absolutely has the coolest guitar riff from the album. "Buried at Sea" opens with some rain sounds, but a quick little guitar riff comes in and the song moves forward with an urgency, moving quickly between screamed and clean vocals for a lot of the track. "Late on 6th" opens with a repeating tone and a laid back and melancholy guitar part. The song slowly builds up over the course of it's 5 minute length, but it remains very somber throughout, and the vocals remain clean and sad.
"Zephyrus" is the third section of the album, which corresponds with the West, and contains the tracks, "Milestone," "The Continual Condition" and "Desert Nights." The lyrics of "Milestone" open up with the line, "I Am Alive in Everything I Touch," which shows where the album title comes from. "Milestone" is one of the songs on the album more heavily influenced by punk rock. "The Continual Condition" has a LOT of groove for this type of song, and some of my favorite bass guitar parts from the album. "Desert Nights" has a strong pop punk feeling to it, but is still a fairly catchy song and fits with the album's theme of loneliness and isolation fairly well.
"Eurus" is the fourth section of the album, which corresponds with the East, and contains the tracks, "In the Dark," "Je Me Souviens," and "Toronto (Unabridged)." "In the Dark" is a strong song, and a good choice to open up this last section of the album. I like several small things they do with the guitar and vocal melodies on this track. "Je Me Souviens" is a straightforward post-hardcore track, for the most part, though the chorus sounds major key while the lyrics are a little dark - it creates a subtle tension that really adds to the track. The album closes out with the track, "Toronto (Unabridged)," which is a mostly acoustic ballad. The song's theme is basically about how even though going to Toronto is essentially "going home," it doesn't feel at all like a home, but instead feels strange. This isn't my favorite track on the album, but it is a good song to close out the album.
Lyrics — 7
Shane Told is the lead lyricist and vocalist for the band, as well as a founding member, and his lyrics have always been somewhat personal, and his vocals very expressive - this contributed heavily to the band being initially being strongly categorized as an "emo" band, though their sound from the beginning had more characteristics of post-hardcore. Shane Told has stated in interviews that his lyrics in "I Am Alive in Everything I Touch" are some of the most personal lyrics of the band's career, which shows in the emotional performance on the album. Backing vocals are provided by bassist, Billy Hamilton, as well as the new lead guitarist, Paul Marc Rousseau. As a sample of the lyrics, from the track "Je Me Souviens": "I remember your face/ from the moment I first saw you I never looked away/ I'll never forget how you looked that Saturday when you told me/ We could never be together/ and I could never change/ Mother, Mother is it you who's calling? / Lights out, lay down/ We'll sleep when we're dead/ that time is now/ But soft speak will drown out/ How I can't do what's right around you/ Cold breeze, no coat/ Excuses used to take words from my throat/ False hope confirmed/ Deceits a language I can't hope to learn/ So when we're standing on this street like we have a hundred times/ We will celebrate the years you stalled and couldn't decide." The lyrics are absolutely very personal, and an expression of loneliness and loss through most of the album. It can actually wear on your mood listening to the album from start to finish, but if you're in the right mood for it, then it is a good album to get lost in.
Overall Impression — 7
Silverstein has grown quite a bit as a band, while keeping their post-hardcore sound they've also incorporated a punk rock influence in a lot of their music. From song to song you may have a mostly acoustic ballad to an intensely heavy hardcore track with breakdowns - they don't stay inside a single mold. My favorite track on the album is "A Midwestern State of Emergency," because it is both extremely heavy while also having a very catchy chorus - as well as a weird underlying vibe to it that I can't quite describe. "Heaven, Hell and Purgatory" is my second favorite track, and that is based entirely on the heavy guitar riff that the song relies on. I also enjoyed "In the Dark" and "The Continual Condition." I didn't really dislike any of the album, though several of the tracks were fairly mediocre.