Betrayal. Arson. Infidelity. True Love.
Two stories that parallel each other. A captain and his ship overthrown by men he put his trust into. A lover scorned by the betrayal of his woman and his best friend. A passion for fire. A concept burning with torment, confusion, and hatred. This is A Shipwreck In The Sand, and this is Silverstein’s finest offering.
This five-piece from Ontario, Canada, have never been the frontrunners for respect in the scene. While critics continued to dismiss the band as generic post-hardcore, the band has continued to improve. Just listen to the evidence in Shane Told’s vocals. Once a shrieking mess on their debut album, When Broken Is Easily Fixed, Told’s voice now bellows with a swagger. The band has also improved musically, adding new dynamics and tempos in each album. With A Shipwreck In The Sand, the improvements we’ve heard on the previous two albums reach a maturation and refinement.
Shipwreck features 14 tracks that span over 4 chapters. Produced by Cameron Webb, the album showcases a variety of tempos, speeds, and compositions. Tracks such as the opener, “A Great Fire,” strike hard and often, while others slow down the pace to create strong crescendos, with “You’re All I Have” being a prime example.
Chapter One is titled “It Burns Within Us All,” as the lyrical themes center around the desire to burn everything. First single, “Vices,” begins with guitars that just scream anguish. Told screams “I’m not coming home to you/I won’t sleep with the devil.” Chapter Two – “Liars, Cheaters, and Thieves” – begins to discuss the reflections of the main character. The standout track is “American Dream,” which seems to follow the formula “Discovering The Waterfront” had. A moody intro leads into huge guitar chords and a memorable chorus. Incredibly catchy and packing a punch, “American Dream” aims to be the hit of the album.
Chapter Two ends with “Born Dead,” a frantic and melodic track with the soul of hardcore, former Comeback Kid vocalist Scott Wade lends his bark to compliment Told’s growl. Chapter Three – “Fight Fire With Fire” – is where the main character takes action. The title track appears in here, and centers on the other story of the captain of a ship losing the trust and support of his crew. “You’re All I Have” incorporates radio-ready choruses that will make permanent residence in your cerebellum.
The consequences of one’s actions come to realization during “Death and Taxes,” the fourth and final chapter of Silverstein’s concept. The seven-minute closer, appropriately titled “The End,” sets the pace with acoustic strumming and slight orchestration as Told and Canadian songwriter Lights perform beautiful call-and-return vocals. While formulaic and hindered by a few songwriting clichés, “The End” is an immensely enjoyable listen, and closes the album in a way that will make you want to press the “repeat” button.
As a band that first started out as a guilty pleasure of mine, Silverstein has steadily become a formidable band that deserves respect. From the initial improvement shown in 2005’s Discovering The Waterfront to the maturity of 2007’s Arrival and Departures, Silverstein has started to put it all together with A Shipwreck In The Sand. While there are still a handful of flaws that show up on this disc, Told’s lyrics have continued to improve (remember, this is the guy who once asked you to slit his throat with the knife you found from his spine), and Told shows the ability to tell a compelling story.
Musically, the album doesn’t implement a new sound or direction, rather it is a refinement and polishing of the things the band has tried over the years. Guitarists Neil Boshart and Josh Bradford deliver throughout, while bassist Bill Hamilton and drummer Paul Koehler provide the pace. Songs such as “Broken Stars” and “We Are Not The World” are weak and do little to catch my attention, but the aforementioned “American Dream,” “The End,” and “Vices” certainly make up for it.
This isn’t a perfect album. Instead, it is an enjoyable, catchy album that digs deeper than most bands in its genre. A Shipwreck In The Sand is a showcase of a band continuing their journey on reaching their full potential. You know you wanna give Shipwreck a spin, your curiosity is burning.