Misery Made Me

Bad times will come and go. Sadness isn’t forever. But misery? Damn, that can feel like a ton of bricks weighing you down to the point of paralyzing helplessness. On the band’s tenth studio album, Silverstein have misery well on their mind with Misery Made Me. The band took a deep dive into the introspective with their last effort, A Beautiful Place To Drown, and that experience seemed to have made the band look towards heavier tones and themes on this latest record. The promotion cycle for this latest album started with the release of one of their heaviest songs to date in “Bankrupt,” and roughly seven months later the band upped the ante again with “It’s Over,” a blistering song about being on the verge of throwing in the towel. Much like other records, Misery Made Me features four songs that have an outside collaborator, and each cameo appearance is well thought out and calculated. This album is one of the heavier records the band has released (in both guitar tones as well as lyrical material) and yet as Silverstein explore the darkest parts of these feelings, they come back into the light with cautious optimism that things can (eventually) get better.

Kicking off the record with “Our Song” is a great way to start off the set of songs that tackle the theme of misery, and features some cool starts and stops to the tempo in the verses for the band to get their audience tuned into the path that lies before them. The pre-chorus to chorus lines of, “I’ve been getting reckless / Burning through my chances / No looking back when we’re so far gone / This is for the fuck ups / Doubled down on bad luck / You can tell everybody this is our song / I don’t need saving / Never gonna change me now / Misery made me / Nothing can break me down,” sounds like a rallying cry to get everyone on the same page.

”Die Alone” follows the well-constructed opener with a sound reminiscent to the vibe the band went for on 2009’s A Shipwreck In the Sand. The bridge of “You traitor / We had a pact we would never surrender / No hope / No prayers / Only lies, there was never an answer / So you can carry on yourself / Alone, depressed and not with me / Because you only bring me down anyway,” finds Silverstein at their most vengeful as they describe a person that they are clearly fed up with. “Ultraviolet” brings a really cool guitar riff into the fold in the opening bars of the song, and the band is able to build a great-sounding single around that riff. Silverstein continues to pursue the path of most resistance as they balance the heaviest guitar riffs with the most abrasive lyrics. Shane Told’s vocal delivery on, “If the current’s the cure / Light me up / Fifty thousand volts / Reborn in electricity / Sell my soul for dopamine,” is passionate, heartfelt, and pure elated energy.

”Cold Blood” brings the tempo down a few notches with a reflective song that features guest vocals from Trevor Daniel. Told gets to the point in the chorus as he ponders, “Remind me why I’m breathing / When did we get so / Cold blooded?” The basic idea of feeling numb to all of the outside noises going in the world leave us with the weight of trying to balance everything on our own, and that can be really fucking hard. When relationships turn sour, or our support groups seem to be a little less supportive, it can feel like we’re navigating through this life blindly. Silverstein keeps these thoughts in mind, but never completely gives into the darkest of feelings in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

”It’s Over” was the second single to be released from Misery Made Me and makes perfect sense in the album sequencing to be wedged into the middle of the tracklisting. The band needed a heavy, yet melodic song to balance out the mid-tempo “Cold Blood” that preceded it, and this song delivers. If you listen closely, you can hear some pretty cool layered guitar parts by Paul Marc Rousseau and Josh Bradford in the background that complement the drumming of Paul Koehler. Things continue down the journey of heavy-laced material on “The Altar/Mary,” that starts out with quickly shouted vocal barbs from Told before the band slows it down just enough for the introspective lyrics of, “Oh Lord, I wish that I could quit / But the idol in the middle / Tends to rule with a fist / I’m not blind / But my hands are tied / I’ll tint my lenses rose / I’m handing people hope / They’d rather make ends meet / Than meet their maker with a rope, right? / I’m not Satan, just a friend / So I might pay my penance / When I get my dividend.” Silverstein showcase more impressive guitar work over these lyrics, and slow the tempo down to almost a grinding halt on the last few bars of music over dripping synths.

”Slow Motion” features Mike Hranica, and tackles the themes of despair and losing hope for the chance of a cheery outcome. I found the second verse to particularly powerful as Told croons, “Lights are blinding / Can’t bring myself to look / I fold my hands / There’s no chance that deadbeat ever answers / Tired of trying / Manufactured hope / The last match I had just burned out,” and it appears that the person that he’s singing about is on their last legs of being an important part of his life. “Don’t Wait Up” follows the song with more of a tone of feeling helpless to their situation, with lyrics in the opening like, “Another day with no light / Feeling alone in a double life / So far away / I levitate / Somewhere between the shadow / And the darkest place / And I start to slip away.” It’s hard to be between a rock and a hard place in a one-sided relationship, and the way the band conveys these emotions is spot on.

As great as an opening single “Bankrupt” is, it almost feels a little out of place in the album sequencing. I personally would’ve preferred seeing this song tacked on as a bonus track at the very end of the album, or opening with it to set the tone of Misery Made Me. Things get back on the right trajectory with the industrial-sounding track “Live Like This,” that features a combination of programmed beats and Koehler’s trademark drumming to make for another standout song in the band’s storied discography.

I’ve always been a big fan of closing out albums with a ballad, and Silverstein delivers on the swooning closer called “Misery.” Told continues to impress in his vocal delivery, and the acoustic-guitar driven song slowly builds to a crescendo at the end as Told admits, “So I’ll just let the breeze scatter me / I can find my peace in misery.” The band hinted at overcoming the heavy theme of misery throughout the album, but by confessing that they’re at the stage of acceptance is enough to leave the listener rooting for them to eventually look back on this hard time as a period when things were at their toughest, and made them the people they are today. It’s really difficult to admit that we’re not always in control of our own recovery, but by navigating through the darkest webs of self-discovery, Silverstein surely have made many others feel a little less alone.