Silverstein - Dead Reflection
Review by Shannon Shumaker
Seventeen years and eight full-length releases into their career, some would assume that Silverstein might start losing steam by now, but judging by their newest release, they’re pressing forward stronger and more focused than ever. Dead Reflection is spearheaded by vocalist Shane Told’s documentation of a difficult year and ironically finds the band at their best lyrically and emotionally. Like their fan-favorite early releases When Broken Is Easily Fixed and Discovering The Waterfront, Dead Reflection packs an emotional punch and sonic journey that’ll certainly make old fans happy and keep new ones interested.
With a sound rooted in the punk and hardcore scene, one might think that Silverstein have explored every sound possible in their years together, but Dead Reflection quickly proves that they’re still experimenting. Opening track “Last Looks” offers an explosive introduction before breaking into Told’s signature clean vocals, something that fans have come to expect. However where the opener is driven by hard hitting, big guitar hooks, the following “Retrograde” ventures into a more melodic sound. This is explored even further in the emotional and raw “Lost Positives,” which focuses mainly on the clean vocal work.
The great thing about Dead Reflection is that you don’t quite know what to expect with each coming song. Every track explores a different sound, even if it just a slight sonic shift. For instance, the fourth track, “Ghost” is spearheaded by big drums and epic guitar work, while the following “Aquamarine” is a lighter change of pace, leaning more on the clean melodies rather than aggressive guitar work. This keeps the album dynamic and multidimensional, allowing the band to explore their sound while offering long-time fans something new to dig into. Vocally, “Aquamarine” is easily some of Told’s best work on the album, and just when you think you have the song figured out, the band dives into a hardcore-leaning breakdown. A few songs later, they offer “The Afterglow,” easily one of their poppiest tracks to date.
Sonically, Dead Reflection is quite a journey, but the lyrical content is also a huge driving force behind the album. “Mirror Box,” the stunning middle track, is a perfect example of this, as it is easily one of the most personal and emotionally vulnerable songs on the album. Over clean guitar, Told bears his soul, singing, “I left but I wish I had stayed.” Toward the end of the album, “Whiplash” is the emotional prologue to the heartbreaking closer, “Wake Up.” Lyrically, “Whiplash” chronicles the feelings that come with the end of a relationship with sweeping metaphors (“Everything you said hit me like a car wreck”) while “Wake Up” is about forcing yourself to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward.
When a band has released as many albums as Silverstein, who have dropped a new one every odd year since their 2003 debut, choosing a favorite as a fan isn’t an easy task. Throughout their years together, Silverstein have managed evolve and grow with each release, making the process even harder, but emotionally, Dead Reflection is easily one of their best releases to date. These songs are raw, powerful, and hard-hitting, something that the band is known for, and sonically, they still manage to surprise fans nearly two decades later.
LISTEN TO "Mirror Box" "The Afterglow" or "Whiplash"
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