For a band whose best years in terms of cultural relevance are long behind them, Silverstein have been suitably impressing over the last few years. They’ve certainly done the most of the 2000s post-hardcore bands looking to remain afloat today, as they’re among the most successful in retooling their sound just enough to avoid wholesale nostalgia trafficking. Calling it a renaissance is probably overselling it, but it’s definitely an uptick, to where the clear patterns adorning their work aren’t as hampering as they would be for a band who didn’t know how to leverage them. There’s thematic consistency in hazy, abstract artwork and a handful of guest stars both adjacent to their scene and from more wide-berthing areas (none of whom contribute that much of note, if we’re being honest), but they won’t overshadow a central performance that’s actually done quite well to advance into the modern day. Misery Made Me might just be their strongest stab at that yet, forgoing the caveat of ‘good for Silverstein this far in’ to simply be unequivocally good. And that isn’t too surprising when it’s clearly building on what A Beautiful Place To Drown had already advanced a couple of years ago; the poppier earworms are fewer, but that instead makes way for something overall heavier and even more cogent of both where it’s come from and where it currently is. It can be reminiscent of Underøath’s recent work in that sense, overtly in how the electronic foundations of The Altar / Mary and Slow Motion will spark and spit, and even just in the contemporaneous mood that’s cultivated. It plays into Silverstein’s already widened breadth as a band, at that; Die Alone and Cold Blooded are fundamentally different songs—the former, a locomotive hardcore cut, the latter, a towering stab at arena-rock—but the pieces will come together enough for them to feel complementary to each other rather than clashing. That’s an issue that Silverstein have definitely faced in the past, and Misery Made Me is probably their cleanest attempt at ironing it out to date.
Just as a package, Misery Made Me works to show how deeply Silverstein’s adaptability runs. The ripples of their formed kinship with Beartooth are on their fullest display this time, mostly in the ironclad, modern metal style of production that gives a big boon to post-hardcore looking to be simultaneously enormous and powerful, like It’s Over or Don’t Wait Up. It’s also good to see how much of their previous scene stylism that Silverstein have now dropped, rerouted from excessive polish or emo whininess to a far more stable foundation (Shane Told’s voice is still naturally like that, but it’s barely a distraction). At the same time though, it’ll cause guest stars like Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld or The Devil Wears Prada’s Mike Hranica to assimilate into the template on Die Alone and Slow Motion respectively, to where they’re barely presences. It’s more just the standard at this stage (Trevor Daniel and nothing,nowhere. could’ve been utilised even more interestingly but still aren’t), but it presents a narrower view of newfound experimentalism than Silverstein would probably like to admit. Maybe that’s conjecture, but the capacity to push themselves even further than they already have or try something even more fresh and cool could be grasped with minimal more effort. At least the writing has developed a high ceiling in its stead, in critiques of modern cultures of depression and disassociation that are far from the worst examples of it. Usually that’s a prime case for bands of a certain vintage to seem desperately out of touch, but Silverstein will keenly avoid that. It’s yet another criterion they’re getting right almost effortlessly, steamrolling over any lingering preconceptions of Warped Tour has-beens to establish themselves as a much brighter force in post-hardcore than may be expected. In their current phase, Misery Made Me is easily their best work on the whole, and another rung higher in terms of the improvements they’ve gradually been accruing. Maybe it’s a bit odd to be this enthusiastic about Silverstein in 2022, but the results speak for themselves and their efforts to grow haven’t gone unrecognised.
For fans of: Underøath, The Used, Beartooth
‘Misery Made Me’ by Silverstein is released on 6th May on UNFD.
Words by Luke Nuttall