Celebrating their twentieth year of existence as a band, Silverstein are coming into the new decade refined and ready to go. Much of soi-disant “emo” music has long since gone by the wayside, becoming a long-mocked cliche and punchline, though some bands have continued to have a devout following in later life while others have evolved away from the brief and polarizing fad of yesteryear. Silverstein falls into the category of stick to the script and to hell with the haters, and such a career choice leads only one of two ways: A fanbase eternally grateful to their heroes for not selling out, or one quickly jumping for the life boats as said act sinks into commercial and critical sterility.
Following up to 2017’s Dead Reflection (unless one counts last year’s treasure chest of re-recordings, Redux: The First Ten Years as a legitimate album) is A Beautiful Place To Drown, a 12-song effort of fresh material littered about with guest stars. “Bad Habits”, the album’s opener features Aaron Marshall from Intervals on guitar, for instance, while Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo throws down vocals on “Burn It Down”. “Where Are You” reiterates the Silverstein formula of post-hardcore guitars meeting pop-punky emo vocals; certainly nothing new or groundbreaking as far as 21st century music goes but definitely workable for the likes of Silverstein.
“Infinite”, featuring Aaron Gillespie of The Almost and Underoath is a more aggressive slammer, lending more testicular credibility to its makers who might otherwise be written off as wimpy Hot Topic relics by a jaded, older audience. “Shape Shift” largely trails off of “Infinite”’s dynamics, particularly with Shane Told offering the exact same vocals as the four tracks that came before. Band-aiding this lack of versatility, “All On Me” trades in active and punchy for deep and atmospheric, fully showcasing Silverstein’s contemporary pop side and even throwing in a saxophone for good measure. “Madness” featuring Princess Nokia rebounds into standard issue, springing all the way back to Suicide Season-era Bring Me The Horizon metalcore as a swift reminder of Silverstein’s roots.
God knows just because it’s emo, it doesn’t always have to be dreary: “Say Yes!” is markedly cheerier than most songs on the record, especially in comparison to its immediate predecessor. “Stop” swims in BMTH-esque waters once more, albeit more in the recent territory of “mantra” and “sugar honey ice & tea” off Amo than their aughts heyday. While “September 14” punks it up at full speed, “Coming Down” is more of a straight-ahead rocker with a sufficient emo tinge, showcasing some diversity of sound but still largely, sometimes to detriment, sticking to the core. “Take What You Give” finalizes things by going full 2000s, a feat accomplished by featuring Simple Plan’s Pierre Bouvier as a vocal contributor. It starts pop punk and ends pop punk- perfectly circular while running the gamut enough to keep it fresh.
A Beautiful Place To Drown doesn’t reinvent the wheel for Silverstein, nor was that ever likely the intent. It lacks in terms of modernization and experimentation and stepping sizeably out of the box, but as a give-the-fans-what-they-want type of record, it adequately passes the test. The guest features help as well, but on their own Silverstein show enough strength to get by and demonstrate that they’ve found their niche and don’t intend to steer away from that path. For what it’s worth, it works well and best of luck to them.