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ALBUM: Silverstein – ‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’
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ALBUM: Silverstein – ‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’

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Few are the bands that reach the peak of their powers thirteen years into their existence, but that was the case with Silverstein and their conceptual magnum opus ‘This Is How the Wind Shifts’.

A refocusing of their energies rather than a significant shift in musical direction, it was as confident and meaty a body of work as any in post-hardcore so far this decade, and reaffirmed their status as an underappreciated band. Their rich run of form continues with follow up ‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’, another concept album this time sorted into four geographically themed chapters. An eternal trap for records of this ilk is for thematics to overwhelm songwriting, and thankfully for fans this is certainly not the case. This band’s strength has consistently been the humanity and approachability deeply rooted in their music, and it shines through as strong as ever.

The bulk of ‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’ is easily digestible popcorn post-hardcore, but comes off as neither hackneyed nor melodramatic. ‘Face of the Earth’, ‘Buried At Sea’ and more omit the monotone open-note hammering that’s standard fare for the genre nowadays in favour of melodic riffs and simple but never obvious guitar patterns, the rhythm section likewise shining without ever really taking prominence. Shane Told’s vocals are perfect for the music because of the force of will he injects into each line, perfectly exemplified on the screams of the album’s title on “Millstone”. He also has a knack for very visual lyrics ideal for the narrative concept. “A Midwestern State of Emergency” is the best example among a batch of choruses straightforward in melody but made immeasurably more interesting by the words applied to the melodies.

Tonally consistent though this 40-minute production is, it has enough variety to keep the listener on their toes. “Heaven, Hell and Purgatory” is a strikingly heavier cut, while “In the Dark” becomes particularly dense and (enjoyably) suffocating as its unorthodox choruses build to an intense bridge. On the other end are the ballads: “Late on 6th”, wrapped in melancholia and concluding with a heart-on-sleeve denouement; and, in an ode to a city very important to Silverstein, closer “Toronto (Unabridged)”. The latter moves between acoustic soul searching and an orchestral-tinged major key chorus in a manner that perfectly fits its conflicted lyrics.

‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’ is not an album without shortcomings, one of which is that the brief sample recordings from the cities described in the songs do very little to flesh out the concept. A couple of cuts also fail to live up to the high standard set by the majority, “The Continual Condition” lacking much of merit beside its urgent chorus. ”Desert Nights” brings a more pop rock flavour to proceedings which isn’t unwelcome, but when the more nuanced “Je Me Souviens” deploys a breezy hook that blows it out of the water two tracks later it sounds far less vital to the album as a whole. Nonetheless, this is a concise and well-structured record with neither significant lulls nor overt filler.

Few bands in rock are on as good a run of form as Silverstein are right now, their latest work an effective spiritual sequel to ‘This Is How the Wind Shifts’ and a supremely confident album in its own right. ‘I Am Alive in Everything I Touch’ is one of the highlights of 2015 so far and proves that post-hardcore can still be exciting without the need to drench it in production trickery or cross-genre bells and whistles. Quality, consistent songwriting is enough.

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