As deeply ‘of their time’ as they are, it’s hard to find anyone who holds any great animosity towards Silverstein in the modern day. They’ve certainly been responsible for some post-hardcore that’s been unable to hide its more dated affectations, but in general they aren’t terrible at all, and frontman Shane Told’s genuinely excellent podcast Lead Singer Syndrome has arguably done the most work of all in keeping Silverstein’s relevance ploughing through past their 2000s heyday. Plenty of their contemporaries haven’t been nearly as fortunate as Silverstein have in terms of longevity, and while it’d be difficult to say that a new album arrives coated in great deals of excitement, it’s just generally good to have something like this around. For as quickly as music continues to move and reshape itself, a band like Silverstein provide an ideal dose of comfort food, and while that may amount to a guilty pleasure for many, there’s still nothing outwardly objectionable about that.
If that sounds backhanded, that’s not the intention; for as little as A Beautiful Place To Drown does to move any particular needle, Silverstein have such clear acumen with regards to their own sound and melodic knack that it really doesn’t matter. It certainly helps that they fall into the less saccharine or overburdened side of polished post-hardcore, and even if the ties to relics of the Warped Tours of many moons ago remain unbothered, it’s not like Silverstein are resting too heavily on their laurels with regards to emulating that sound. There’s definitely comfort in what they’re doing, but it’s not to the degree of laziness, and that proves key in making A Beautiful Place To Drown as consistently solid as it is. Silverstein play to their strengths without keeping things too safe, and even if it doesn’t make for standout material within their scene or even their own catalogue, it’s still the mark of band sounding vitalised twenty years in.
Even then though, some of the broader swings at topics like depression and mental health do smack of a less effective import from that time, and though Silverstein are canny enough hook-writers to avoid much of the negative brunt of that approach, this still isn’t a deep dive by any means. But at the same time, where the likes of Bad Habits and Infinite can feel a bit surface-level in what they’re trying to say, there’s still an appreciation that can be had for potency alone. There’s surging, raw power that does elevate lesser lyrical threads simply through an inherent boost in pace, and that balances well with moments that do aim a bit higher, like with the examinations of the corruption that comes from those in powerful positions on Shape Shift. None of it’s really that incisive in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an approach that paints with the broad emotional strokes that Told’s ever-recognisable vocal style is perfectly capable of playing up to. It can be deemed a throwback in that respect – Silverstein are hitting that nostalgia centre pretty concisely once again – but it’s not forced or overly reliant on those tropes, even if the band can afford to push the boat out slightly further in respect to what they do have.
And it’s not like the music is exempt from criticisms about adventurousness, but that’s more in regards to the sources that Silverstein have at their disposal that feel underutilised, namely the guest appearances. For as punchy and kinetic as Bad Habits is, there’s more that could be eked out in terms of technical interweaving from Intervals’ Aaron Marshall than a brief solo, and that’s doubly true for an abortive feature from Princess Nokia on Madness where they really could be taken out of the song altogether and it wouldn’t make that much of a difference. The same can also be said of the row of ostensible backup singers in Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo, Underøath’s Aaron Gillespie and Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier on their respective cuts, but at least in that case the sphere of a view is a lot narrower anyway, and they bring all that they really can to benefit what Silverstein already lay down. And at the end of the day, while there’s certainly more that could be done with the talent the band have recruited here, A Beautiful Place To Drown is perfectly solid as a Silverstein album in its own right. The post-hardcore framework is locked in tightly enough for the most part, and when it branches out for deviations into metalcore on Infinite or pop-punk on Say Yes and Take What You Give, the severity of whiplash transitions have been tempered by a good deal. Even with All On Me, with its woozy alt-pop melody, crashing percussion and dreamlike saxophone interlude, the melodic focus that remains so prominent within Silverstein’s sound acts as the intact throughline to keep things grounded in what’s undoubtedly the album’s sharpest veer away. It’s something that’s compounded and crystallised even further with the juddering metalcore riffs of Where Are You and the punk-flavoured gallop of September 14th, and solidifies itself as inarguably Silverstein’s greatest strength that grounds the vast majority of this album.
For a band who’ve developed a reputation for being dependable yet unremarkable over the last handful of releases, tapping into something like that so succinctly is a good move, and shows how Silverstein do still feel like a relevant force instead of another dredged up relic who’ve stuck around despite no one wanting them. That couldn’t be further from the truth here; A Beautiful Place To Drown is the late-period high point that most bands aren’t fortunate enough to reach, and Silverstein hitting that mark really does bode well for their future. Even without being a guaranteed smash or the herald of a scene revival, this is a consistently solid-to-good album that never needs to be anything more, simply because Silverstein are just straight-up good at what they do. It may seem stifling, but the results speak for themselves, and there’s nothing all that wrong with keeping in their lane when the quality is this high.
For fans of: Underøath, Senses Fail, Hawthorne Heights
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘A Beautiful Place To Drown’ by Silverstein is released on 6th March on UNFD.