May 3, 2022 Silverstein – Misery Made Me (Album Review
Call them Punk, Post-Hardcore, Screamo, or simply Emo. Whatever distinction you choose to make, Silverstein has heard them all—so now they’re throwing everything into a blender and hitting the button for “Pulverize.” Emotionally raw, infectious brutality, their latest, Misery Made Me, arrives on Friday, May 6, 2022, thanks to UNFD.
Proud to celebrate 22 years strong, Silverstein still refuses to rest on its laurels. Vocalist Shane Told notes: “For the first time in our career, we truly put it all out there. We went into this with no rules and no preconceived notions of what Silverstein is or what it could be . . . We somehow wrote the heaviest, saddest, catchiest, and most emotional songs in 22 years of being a band … all on the same album.”
It’s a bold statement considering Silverstein’s impressive catalog, which began with their 2003 debut full-length When Broken Is Easily Fixed. The groundbreaking Discovering the Waterfront (2005) simultaneously bested the sophomore curse and won the band a die-hard fan base well beyond their Ontario, Canada home base. Of course, it is their ability to produce consistent material with albums such as 2009’s A Shipwreck in the Sand, 2013’s This Is How the Wind Shifts, and 2017’s Dead Reflection that has kept listeners around for the quintet’s lengthy career.
And so, following on the heels of 2020’s JUNO Award-nominated A Beautiful Place to Drown, Silverstein—Told, Guitarists Paul Marc Rousseau and Josh Bradford, Bassist Billy Hamilton, and Drummer Paul Koehler—return with their tenth full-length studio offering, Misery Made Me. Produced by Sam Guaiana (The Devil Wears Prada, Between You & Me), the 11-song album is itself a bit of an oxymoron. Thematically dark, exploring the bleak nature of our world and ourselves, it is meant to provide an anchor for those who feel alone and untethered—even if that link is simply mutual respect for others who proudly own their melancholy.
Despite all its weighty lyrical content, Misery Made Me is also a love letter to the band’s past, future, and fandom. And they waste no time making all of this known, jumping into the straightforward, anthemic rocker “Our Song,” which gives the album its title. This sets listeners up for a journey where there will be everything from melodic, balladesque moments, such as “Cold Blood,” which features singer-songwriter Trevor Daniel, to a brutal unleashing of hell that features Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld (“Die Alone”). Meanwhile, “Slow Motion,” which features Mike Hranica of The Devil Wears Prada, celebrates the macabre and hauntingly evocative imagery that was the peanut butter and jelly of the early 2000s scene.
But Screamo is not a term that one can dispense lightly, and Silverstein has evolved far beyond their first works. Thanks to this maturity, nothing on Misery Made Me ever feels derivative or recycled. In fact, some of its finest endeavors are those built with a multitude of layers meant to transcend genre, like the entrancing first single, “Ultraviolet.” Building a perfect bridge between A Beautiful Place to Drown and the band’s latest, its intelligent composition is echoed in the headrush of “It’s Over,” a funeral for a world of pariahs, and the inner-struggle of “Don’t Wait Up.”
Silverstein, of course, does not stop here. Flaunting their experimentation with a pride born of the past two decades, they craft some of the most thrilling and surprising additions to the record. Take, for example, the split personalities of “The Alter / Mary,” one half of which is mired in discordant Hardcore while the other is stony yet sultry, a synth-laden mind-trip. It is, at first, mindboggling, a puzzle that is meant to be pondered. It is also absolutely nothing like “Bankrupt,” where Told adopts a Hip Hop influence to his vocal pacing on each verse, only to toy with listeners through soaring choruses that deride the cancerous nature of our world.
But the emotional heavyweights of Misery Made Me are left to create a grand finale sponsored by Kleenex. (Ahem.) This is to say that Silverstein leaves their two most hard-hitting lyrical masterpieces for dead last: “Live Like This” and “Misery.” The first of which hits with no less force than a Mac truck, crushing the feels of anyone who has ever heard the words “I don’t wanna die but I can’t live like this” escape from their own lips. With help from nothing, nowhere., its delivery weighs like an anchor on the soul. Last track “Misery,” which initially begins as an acoustic ballad, is no less of a wallop to the chest, as lines like “I measure pain in milligrams” provide a brutally honest reflection on our modern approach to mental health.
In fact, Misery Made Me is just this: a heartbreakingly sincere lens on an epidemic that continues to ravage the world as it reshapes each of us in its wake. Simultaneously a personal look into Silverstein and what has molded them into the band they are today, and a window on a world that has found escape through dissociation and doomsurfing, these 11 songs live up to the album’s title—and could have just as easily been dubbed Sometimes Broken Is Not So Easily Fixed. A gorgeously haunting collection of morbidly poetic imagery set to the sounds of emotional agony, this is not a bubblegum record, that’s for sure. Yet, Silverstein manages to thrive amidst this living hell, surviving to deliver hope to those that need a helping hand to keep them from drowning in a turbulent sea. Maybe there’s a peace to be found in misery, and perhaps the struggle to find it makes us better versions of ourselves. Whatever you decide, Cryptic Rock gives Silverstein’s latest 5 out of 5 stars.