Sound — 6
Hard-working post-hardcore outfit Silverstein seem to have had better luck than a lot of their contemporaries. Bands like Aiden, Senses Fail and Hawthorne Heights shared their mid-2000s heyday but they've lost a lot of momentum since. Many find themselves back on the club circuit out of ideas and running thin on support. The Canadians on the other hand are doing a little better for themselves, but "This Is How The Wind Shifts" is their first without lead guitarist Neil Boshart, who is replaced by former tour stand-in Paul Marc Rousseau. Can a major change behind the wheel reinvigorate a band burdened with an aging sound?
It can, to an extent. It's quickly apparent that there's a desire to go on the offensive, here, with chuggy riffs and choppy tempo changes breaking up the usual hook-laden fare more regularly and with a new belief. Shane Told's screams at last blend into the mix properly. This is undoubtedly the best production job the band have had in their career, which I'm sure is partly down to the shake-up in the guitar department.
A degree of self-awareness is required to really get into some of these songs learn to become unfazed by the cheesiness of the choruses and perpetual adolescence of Told and "A Better Place", "On Brave Mountains We Conquer" and many more can get the blood pumping nicely. Expect little joy if you can't break down a few walls for this album.
Lyrics — 7
As concepts go this has a rather good one. Each track from the first half of the album has a corresponding one in the second, which retells the story with one crucial detail changed; "Massachusetts" pairs "California", "Arrivals" pairs "Departures" and so on. A woman may, for example, be convinced to stay with her abusive partner on the first half but choose to move away on the second. The key point is that a single decision or event can change the course of history dramatically, depending on how the wind shifts. These stories are, of course, romantic ones told in typically melodramatic fashion, with lots of sleepless nights, broken hearts and such like. It wouldn't be Silverstein otherwise, but the concept has a lot more potential than is explored here.
Overall Impression — 6
The heavy side is much improved and the hooks are perhaps the best Silverstein have ever written, but at the end of the day this album's come several years too late. The concept is interesting, the pacing is perfect and you can't fault them for effort but the heart of the band hasn't changed. Recruiting a new generation of fans will take more than this. As the nasally American post-hardcore sound moves into its twilight years and less and less bands enjoy commercial success with it, ultimately the sound must diversify or risk losing its appeal. "This Is How The Wind Shifts" is a good listen for fans but most definitely runs that risk.