Silverstein - Discovering the Waterfront
Record Label: Victory Records
Release Date: August 16, 2005
Sure, it's got the staple emo sphere with quiet voice/loud voice dynamics that alternately pummels your ears and dresses the wounds. And sure, most of the lyrics are shadowy pseudo-poetry about general teenage hurting: "I will never recover from this / I will never believe in this again" (side note: it’s a clever tactic to use a vague word like "this" to artistically disguise the fact that you are writing about nothing). But this is certainly one of the albums that sets the benchmark for other bands in the emocore genre.
The metal riffs are authentic, like the hammer-on slap in the face that opens the album’s first track “Your Sword Versus My Dagger” (definitely the sound of an album hitting the ground running if I’ve ever heard it), while the drums are galloping and driving throughout. “Always and Never” begins with an odd Messhugah rhythm, exploding thereafter in anxious oblivion. It’s like if Trivium or Killswitch got their shit together and wrote some catchy songs.
“Defend You” is based on one of the weirdest progressions in metalcore history. Its excellent use of diminished chords in sequence are perfected by punctuated percussive triplets. This is not the pedaled repetitive one-note double bass filler crap that dominates most of the screamo output lately, and although these songs may or may not trigger caveman dancing or windmill fist throws, one gets the impression that Silverstein was not going for that effect.
The softer moments are heartfelt and meaningful, not forced to fit a formula; the transitions are smooth. “The Ides of March” is a hushed lullaby that climaxes in a sing-along chorus, and if that was the only song you heard from the album, you’d have no idea this was a metal band. The mellow title track is the epitome of arpeggio-filled tranquility. Enhanced by its reflective string arrangement, the track fits nicely between two screamers – the perfect place to catch your second wind before the closing half of the album.
It's all about that blend: tracks like “Smile in Your Sleep” combine elements of different genres left and right. The tapped guitar riff in the verse could have been borrowed from Audiovent, and the chorus is as heavy as anything on Victory. The use of keyboards is subtle and doesn’t even necessarily present itself until the second or third listen. There is plenty of production polish to be found throughout, but it enhances the record instead of weighing it down.
One specific item which I kept my eyes and ears open for (well okay just ears): I counted one super-bro-breakdown, by which I mean the maneuver where you keep playing the same exact riff but slow it down like crazy, the perfect way to fill out your album without actually writing something new. Although it seems antithetic to reward a band for not doing something (because it seems like I'm holding them up to someone else's standards), that trendy method of songwriting is so detestable and overdone that it’s worth calling attention to. Silverstein are confident enough in their songwriting skills that they don’t need to cloud their potential with repetitive and pointless filler.
Overall there are hardly any complaints to be found with the album outside of a few brief moments of similarity, like the common arpegio that starts "My Heroine" and the one that bridges "Defend You," which is especially obvious because the two songs are right next to each other. But both tracks are so solid that it's barely even worth noting. Discovering the Waterfront is definitely Silverstein's best album.
I really enjoyed this album. Just got it today. I love the growling vocals combined with the good progressions and melody. It sorta reminds me of Underoath, except were Underoath only has one or two good songs per album, these guys have good songs all around. Keep up the good work.