Usually you can point to certain moments in time when your taste in music changes to broader categories. For me, it came in the form of Blindside and their aggressive, yet melodic, third studio album Silence produced by veteran hit-maker Howard Benson (Hoobastank, Papa Roach). For quite a long time in high school, and even parts of the beginning of college, I was stuck in an Alt Rock and pop-punk phase that was tough to break free from for other genres of music. Enter Blindside and their hard-nosed guitar approach, semi-screamed vocals paired with melodic breakdowns, and my music world was turned upside down. Going down the rabbit hole of post-hardcore music led to my discovery of bands like Underoath and Thursday, and prepared me to be more open to different stylistic choices in our scene’s wide umbrella of artists that would appear on a Warped Tour lineup.
Silence is anything but a silent-sounding record. It’s aggressive, pulsating, and the tones of the guitars, bass, drums, and searing vocals made for a dynamic and sonically interesting band in Blindside. Whereas their previous effort A Thought Crushed My Mind left little room for melodic breakdowns, Silence had just the right combination of punishing guitars and screamed vocals mixed with a more radio-ready sound. The record would end up peaking at #83 on the Billboard 200.
The album launches off into the stratosphere with “Caught A Glimpse,” that showcases an early look at the seismic shift Blindside were doing in their music under the tutelage of producer Howard Benson. The song is a great introductory track for the style the band were going for here, and while it does feature a more radio-friendly approach, it rocks just hard enough for the longtime fans of Blindside. “Pitiful” was the first single to be released from the set and it’s easy to see why. It features a great guitar riff from Simon Grenehed that allowed for the dynamic lead vocalist Christian Lindskog to sing piercingly over in an anthemic fashion. Lindskog’s lyrics were vastly improved from previous efforts, and he did a nice job of painting vivid imagery through his words. For example, the first verse of, “As I recall with my stomach turning / I was hiding away from myself, away from you / Like nothing, though something was terribly wrong / And I admit that I was only waiting for the right time / Night time, the right moment for you to look away / Though you never did, I pretended for a while / So I could walk where I don’t belong,” showcase a vocalist embracing the conflict in his religious upbringing.
”Sleepwalking” was the second single to the be released, and is more in the same vein as A Thought Crushed My Mind, but with a more organized chorus to break up the shouted verses. The alarm-bell sounding guitar riff in the verses does a nice job of capturing the early spirit of the band, while still moving the needle forward in the band’s musical journey. My personal favorite in this hit-filled album is “Cute Boring Love.” It slow-builds in the detailed verses that features some very underrated drumming courtesy of Marcus Dahlström, before exploding into the chorus of, “But don’t you ever just like me / Long for purity / Don’t you ever / Get sick of our territories.” The religious imagery and personal conflict found in the lyrics remains a great sticking point for Christian rock fans, while music fans who just enjoy the sound of their musical package could be equally delighted.
Other early standouts like “The Endings” and “You Can Hide It” showcased the improved songwriting of the four piece band, and Benson’s footprint is all over this collection of hard-hitting jams. More reflective songs like “Thought Like Flames” bring more context to the lyrical imagery that Lindskog conveys so well in his vocal performance, while more speedy songs like “Time Will Change Your Heart” allow for some aggressive pit-ready post-hardcore to take center stage.
”Midnight” features some great bass lines from Tomas Näslund to keep the pulsating sounds brought forth even more powerful. The beautifully constructed chorus of, “And I know You’re alive / And I’ll give my heart to survive / This world has nothing to offer a human soul / Reaching for the sky / So Father of light / Keep my human spirit alive,” again connects the band’s religious roots. “Coming Back To Life” features some cool starts and stops to the guitar riffing from Grenehed, while “She Shut Your Eyes” is the only song that sounds a little out of place after repeat listens to Silence. This track may have better served on their follow-up About a Burning Fire.
Everything boils up to the closing title track, a mostly acoustic song about the band’s relationship with God. The second verse of, “It’s common knowledge that you’ve been dead for a while / It’s well known that the cross is only a burden with pains and trials / But thinking how come my shoes are so light, how come I can walk for miles? / And still, just love you,” brings further light to the darkest thoughts that the band were conflicted with when they wrote songs like this. Silence is a record that grabs you by the throat, but still allows for plenty of introspection to help guide the listeners out of their traditional norms and habits. This record grabbed me at just the right time in my life and for one of the most fruitful moments in our scene’s history of a plethora of legendary albums. And for me, Silence was the one that opened it all up.