Silverstein – ‘A Beautiful Place To Drown’

By Renette van der Merwe

It’s taken music publications twenty years to start acknowledging Silverstein for their influence in the post-hardcore scene, and yet, no amount of recognition could truly encompass their pioneering spirit. We’re talking about a band who paved the way back in 2005 with ‘Discovering The Waterfront’ – an album so seminal that fans from across the globe rocked up to anniversary shows this year to honour a record that still sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did over a decade ago. But they’re also a band who have consistently put out great records since, constantly pushing the envelope by dragging their sound to fresh perspectives and grander heights with each album whilst retaining that kernel that makes them unique.

‘A Beautiful Place To Drown’ is no exception. There’s a definite shift towards commercial appeal, but without ever compromising on who they are as a band. They’re using synths and midi drums for the first time in their entire career and on ‘All On Me’, as an example, they not only incorporate a couple of voice effects, but also feature a saxophone. A post-hardcore band with a sax? And yet it works, because the melodies are ghosts of Silverstein albums past.

Then there’s ‘Madness’, the song hardcore Silverstein fans might feel most apprehensive about considering how unusual the collaboration is. Unlike the other guest appearances, including Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier, Beartooth’s Caleb Schomo and Underoath’s Aaron Gillespie, Princess Nokia walks outside the realm of what we consider punk music to sound like and yet, it’s a testament to the beauty of colliding worlds. ‘Madness’ is brilliant, but it’s not until the bridge when her voice comes in low and menacing, alternating with Shane Told’s characteristic screams that the song is elevated to pure genius – guaranteed to give you goosebumps every time. Suddenly, love does feel like madness, but despite it, you crave more.

This sort of clever songwriting is the essence of ‘A Beautiful Place To Drown’. Whether it’s experience, pure brilliance or a combination of the two, Silverstein’s best showcase of a band who are incredibly thoughtful when it comes to creating art, is on this record. Every lyric is what it needs to be, every riff is where it needs to be and despite busting down the walls of that box people try to put them in, they have this golden thread of their quintessence running throughout.

‘Stop’ is another showstopper; incredibly groovy and melodic, whilst remaining gritty, but then so is penultimate track ‘Coming Down’, as well as ‘Say Yes’. The latter at times sounds like the riff’s been converted to a polyphonic ringtone (did I just give away my age?) and makes me happier than watching malamute puppies tilt their little heads.

‘September 14th’ is very ‘Discovering The Waterfront’ era Silverstein, which is a lovely nod to their roots on an album that is so progressive and forward thinking; qualities that have been evident since lead guitarist, Paul Marc Rousseau, joined the band for 2013’s ‘This Is How The Wind Shifts’. The chemistry between Told and Rousseau as lead writers is palpable and clearly works, even when sharing vocal responsibilities as demonstrated on the third single, ‘Bad Habits’.

There’s so many brilliant facets to this album and, like anything exquisite, you’ll find another reason to fall in love every time you revisit it. All that’s left to do now, is to close your eyes and let your lungs fill with water, because this truly is a beautiful place to drown.


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