SILVERSTEIN TACKLE MODERN ANXIETIES AND THE NEED FOR HOPE IN LATEST ALBUM “MISERY MADE ME”
Few bands have the staying power to last for ten years, much less twenty years — and even much less so if they’re in the niche subgenre of post-hardcore. As such, it’s a fantastic feat that rock gods Silverstein have not only released their tenth studio album in 22 years, Misery Made Me, but also that it’s one of their most personal, affecting works to date — a sign that the unwavering Canadian band still has plenty of ways to connect with fans both old and new.
Misery Made Me is an 11-track masterwork that calls upon Silverstein’s post-hardcore roots while also delving into facets of nu-metal, punk, emo and straight rock. The band has never sounded tighter and more vulnerable — a testament to how the songs’ themes are reminiscent of the crazy times in which we live. The tracks address society’s collective angst and anxiety at the world in a way that is both timely and timeless, culminating in a cathartic, primal release to which many listeners can relate. As lead vocalist Shane Told states about the album’s creation:
“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.”
The album opens with an absolute banger in “Our Song.” The track is all about living life to the fullest even when times are hard and luck is nowhere to be found. But instead of wallowing in despair, Silverstein sound invigorated by the idea that they will survive despite the insanity of the world and those looking to “save” them. The chorus references the album title in, “I don’t need saving / Never gonna change me now / Misery made me / Nothing can break me down,” along with primal screams of emotional release.
The next track is “Die Alone,” and features the supporting vocals of hardcore punk singer Andrew Neufeld from Comeback Kid. Appropriately, the song has a fast-paced punk edge by way of heavy metal, with lyrics that ramble about the disappointment of being turned against by someone once trusted. The vocalists join for one glorious moment of harmony toward the end with, “So you can carry on yourself / Alone, depressed and not with me / Because you only bring me down anyway.” Watch the music video below:
“Ultraviolet” is the third song, and by far the most “commercial.” The sound is something like Evanescence-meets-Sum-41, with a melodic pre-chorus, probing questions about a lack of feeling in today’s world — stand-out lyrics include, “Can I rewire my head / When all the connections are dead? / Doesn’t stop when I try to fight it / I get lost in the ultraviolet” — and moments of tense silence followed immediately by hard-hitting guitar riffs and bass drums underneath Told’s unique vocals. Watch the music video below:
What follows is “Cold Blood,” featuring pop singer-songwriter Trevor Daniel, who gets one of the most pertinent stanzas on the album: “And somehow I feel far from home / Even underneath my own sheets / Full of blood, ice cold, I don’t know / I don’t know how I’m even breathing.” The song is slower and more melodic than its predecessors, allowing the individual plucks on the guitar and the pleading chorus to hit listeners in the gut all the better. It’s a track about being numb in a world of tragedy, and fits the tone just right.
“It’s Over” shows a more theatrical take on the album’s themes. The track wouldn’t be out of place on My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade, as the vocals describe the near-death experience of anxiety and panic attacks in a world that increasingly doesn’t make sense. The picture painted in the lyrics is especially effective: “The last time, it almost killed me / I could see myself drifting through the afterlife / And from hell I saw my body lifeless / Flat on my back, tied up to the train tracks.” Watch the music video below:
“The Altar / Mary” has the most range of sound, starting out as a Metallica-inspired punk song with a Rage Against the Machine mentality, before morphing into a pseudo-electronica vibe with vocal stylings reminiscent of System of a Down’s Serj Tankian. The song points out the hypocrisy of exploitation — “Can’t have the upper class if there’s no one underneath them / Sawing through the top rungs before selling you / A chance to climb the corporate ladder” — before begging forgiveness for being part of the system.
The next track is “Slow Motion,” which features singer Mike Hranica from metalcore band The Devil Wears Prada. The song sounds the most like 2000’s-era nu-metal, with Papa Roach-inspired drums ushering in the track’s heaviness and a beat that would do Taking Back Sunday proud. The opening lyrics, “Seeing static / Dreaming in black and white / If this is life then why / Does it seem like dying?” continue the theme of feeling dead in the current world and keep the momentum up between melodic singing and screaming.
“Don’t Wait Up” follows, and is one of the most desperate tracks on the entire album. With lyrics like, “If I lie to you, could I believe it too? / I need something to f*** me up ’cause I can’t take the truth,” it’s hard not to feel for the song’s subject as he pleads for someone to catch him as he falls — for anyone to be there as he faces the darkest parts of the world and himself. The song is also the only one to fade out on the album, leaving listeners to draw their own conclusions as to whether the singer really finds his savior in the end.
The next song is “Bankrupt,” which is one of the biggest highlights of the album. It’s almost like a mini-tribute to emo and alternative rock, with verses that evoke The White Stripes’ Jack White, guitar riffs that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Muse song and an infectious, gut-punching chorus that’s akin to something by Rise Against: “I’m waiting for an answer / Life is a disaster, we’re going through / Time keeps on moving backwards / The world is a cancer coming for you.” The song isn’t subtle, and it’s all the better for it.
“Live Like This” is the penultimate song, and features emo rap and indie rock singer nothing,nowhere. The track starts off with quick hip-hop beats, and sounds like something from Linkin Park’s later discography, culminating in an effective, emotional banger. This is by far the most personal song on the album, with lyrics that surely resonate deep with many people today: “With my final breath / Take me home again / ‘Cause I’ve got nothing left / I don’t wanna die but I can’t live like this, like this.” Watch the music video below:
The final track is “Misery,” which leads straight in from the previous song. The song sounds like Death Cab For Cutie, but is truly all Silverstein — a soft, slow, tear-jerking and powerful track that tells listeners that misery may have made them, but that there is also immense peace to be found within it. With the final lyrics, “No I won’t be and I won’t feel alone anymore / So I’ll just let the breeze scatter me / I can find my peace in misery,” the album closes on what feels like an epic emotional journey culminating in a great sigh.
Misery Made Me, Silverstein’s tenth studio album, was released May 6 via UNFD and is available digitally and on CD + vinyl. Silverstein will be on a co-headlining tour with The Amity Affliction to support Misery Made Me — they will be in Europe for all of June, and then performing throughout North America between August and October. Tickets are available for purchase here: https://silversteinmusic.com/pages/tour-dates If you’re a fan of post-punk, hardcore or even nostalgic nu-metal, you can — and definitely should — listen to the entirety of Misery Made Me below!