Review: Architects – Holy Hell

“Into the night we burn and rage / In depth we repay for time on this stage / The lights are bright, but don’t lose your way / ‘Cause once it ignites, the flame must decay”

It’s nearly impossible to approach Holy Hell objectively. The eight full-length studio album from British metalcore giants Architects lives entirely in the aftermath of guitarist and lead songwriter Tom Searle’s passing in 2016 after a three-year battle with skin cancer. As such, it’s a deeply emotional and personal document. Even so, its excellence in craft cannot be denied.

You can buy or stream Holy Hell on Apple Music.

From a broad perspective, Holy Hell is an unsurprising crash course in the complexity and devastation of grief. At times, it reads like a letter from Searle’s brother, and Architects’ drummer, Dan. At others, it dwells in the depths of sorrow, desperately searching for a path forward. On a molecular level, it almost inexplicably manages to build and evolve on a sound the band had presumably perfected in recent years.

All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us solidified Architects as titans of metalcore, as if more proof was needed. Unbeknownst to listeners upon its release, that album allowed the late Searle to explore his fate in painful detail. “Death is Not Defeat”, the opening track of Holy Hell finds Dan responding to his brother’s final lyrics, acknowledging the pain of a finite existence, while gripping tightly to hope: “Now you’re finally complete / I will see you where oceans meet”.

We could spend the remainder of this review exploring the beauty of Dan Searle’s lyrics and uncanny ability to capture the journey of grief  – and there are no shortage of moments to share. But it’s all brought to life through a band stretching itself and allowing their collective pain to forge a path forward.

New guitarist Josh Middleton makes his presence felt throughout, whether it be found in surprisingly melodic riffs during the opening moments of the album’s title track or in the band’s signature mathematic breakdowns on singles “Hereafter” and “Modern Misery”. Throughout Holy Hell, the band sprinkle in elements, such as dark synthesizers and stringed instruments that blend gently into the mix, adding emotion without sounding out of place. These additions take tracks like album closer “A Wasted Hymn” to a deeper place than the band has ever been able to explore.

Atop it all, Sam Carter, long considered one of the genre’s best vocalists, delivers his finest performance. Here, Carter finds new ways to splinter, be it delicately, as on “Royal Beggars” or in outright fury as on “The Seventh Circle”. On the former, Carter fights through sorrow while singing, “Royal beggars / Do you wanna / Live forever / Alone?” On “Seventh Circle”, Carter shreds his vocal chords non-stop for 1:30 as he helplessly bellows, “I feel the blood drip from my face / Maybe it’s better to never have been”. One can only imagine the scene in the studio while putting such a performance to tape.

Carter’s ability to evolve as a vocalist, transcending the traditional role of metalcore frontman, is made even more extraordinary when considering the circumstances. On back-to-back albums, he has been tasked with delivering a surreptitious farewell and then the mournful response of the bereaved. It must be the kind of responsibility that allows one to tap into parts of themselves they never knew existed. It has resulted in the kind of work that defines a career.

In the face of such loss, it would have been understandable had the remaining members of Architects chosen to walk away. That they chose to carry on is laudable. That they were able to take their collective grief and infuse it into something so life affirming, beautiful and real is inspiring. The band’s excellence is no longer debatable. Architects stand among the elite in modern metalcore.

5/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Review: Justin Courtney Pierre – In The Drink

Despite the mounting evidence, Justine Courtney Pierre is fun. His musical career has been a series of self deprecation and hapless attempts at romance set to the tune of upbeat synth pop. That’s why it makes sense that his first solo outing, In The Drink doesn’t stray too far from familiar territory. In fact, it feels reassuring to know that Motion City Soundtrack’s lyrical content came from a place so honest that it follows through to his own music.

You can buy or stream In the Drink on Apple Music.

It is going to be impossible not to compare Pierre’s first solo album to Motion City Soundtrack. The album is still a pop rock album filled with dreamy lyrical downers. However, this is the first time Pierre has allowed himself to truly experiment with sounds. Produced by former Motion City guitarist Joshua Allen Cain, Pierre adds more garage influences to an otherwise MCS styled album. Be it the faded drumming and horn section of “Undone”, the fuzzed guitar nightmare of “Goodnight Hiroyuki”, or adding influences from Weezer’s Pinkerton to Motion City’s My Dinosaur Life to create a pop rock chimera like “Anchor”, Pierre somehow surprises as much as he plays to his base.

Perhaps most surprising is the fact that Pierre himself plays every instrument except for drumming duties, which are handled by David Jarnstrom (Gratitude, BNLX). Pierre’s lead and rhythm guitar sections are as hypnotic as anything he’s ever done. He truly finds a career-spanning range from the soft pop of Even If It Kills Me in “Moonbeam” to the raging guitars of My Dinosaur Life in “In The Drink”. Perhaps most surprising is how much his bass lines pop and stand on their own. At times, the bass threatens to overtake the lead guitar as the main instrument (“Ready Player One”, “Shoulder the Weight”) in surprisingly diverse ways.

Pierre himself remains as versatile as ever. While his vocal range doesn’t attempt anything new, he remains one of the most impressive singers in pop punk. Silky smooth, Pierre manages to sound both relatable and impressive as his imagery-filled lyrics slide off of his tongue. Subtle wavers of the voice (“I Don’t Know Why She Ran Away”) and confident bellows (“In The Drink”) fill the album. While he doesn’t sound like a choir boy, it’s absolutely impossible not to want to sing along because you feel like you can.

Thematically, In The Drink is on par for anything else Justin Pierre has written. On the opening track, “Undone”, Pierre admits, “Hey, I won’t leave the party today / I have nothing new to relate / There is only sadness, it always ends this way”.

“I Don’t Know Why She Ran Away” feels like a sister song to the Motion City Soundtrack staple “Her Words Destroyed My Planet”. Not quite as lively, the song still revolves around a man trying to put the pieces together about a broken relationship with Weezer-esque guitars raging behind the vocals. “Don’t stay. Baby please stay, you can’t stay / Every night of my life ends the same way / I want to. I don’t want to. It’s both true / Why can’t I figure this out?”

However, Pierre isn’t constantly in the ditch. “Ready Player One” sees him coming to terms with himself and finding balance with his demons, even in the midst of relationship turmoil. “Think what you will I was never as bad as they say / Okay maybe I was but back then I was outta my mind / And I’m all quips and chatter each quivering section of spine / And I’m here to it, here like I never could ever before cause I was afraid, but now I’m ready”.

In The Drink is the next logical step for Justin Pierre, even if it sounds like the next Motion City Soundtrack album. Aggressive, experimental and familiar, Justin Courtney Pierre delivers a hell of an album, even if it’s somewhat expected. What makes In The Drink so spectacular is the fact that it justifies every song Justin Pierre has written and shows not only how authentic Pierre has been throughout his career, but how close to the vest Motion City Soundtrack was through their lifetime. Whether you’re discovering Pierre for the first time, or coming for the nostalgia, In The Drink is an album that we’ve been waiting for.

4.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and accidentally let his apples go bad. Who does that? Has anyone ever bought TWO APPLES and gone, “No, I’ll hold onto these until they rot”? Literally no one until today.

Most Anticipated of 2018: #3 Pianos Become the Teeth Wait for Love

If you saw my latest event piece on mewithoutYou, you’ll know about one of my favorite bands: Pianos Become the Teeth. Their last album was released in 2014 and was called Keep You. It’s an album that has meant a lot to me over the past few years and I’ve had the privilege of hearing most of the songs played live. However, I was feeling that it was about time that I had some new songs to cry to. Thankfully, the band is releasing a new album, Wait for Love, on February 16, 2018.

As glad as I am that I’ll get new Pianos tunes, I’m hoping that they’ll be slightly more upbeat. Keep You dealt heavily with the theme of loss and I hope that the band members are having a better season in their life. That seemed to be the idea in their single, “Charisma”.

In listening to the new song, it seems that the band plans to keep the same clean vocal style on Keep You, but since we’ve only got one song to go off of, we’ll see whether they stick with that idea. Musically, though, it sits right in between all of their albums, and I’m very excited for the new approach. The video is interesting as well – the band isn’t featured at all, it’s more of a videographic trip through a city.

You can preorder Wait for Love now on Bandcamp. It was produced by Will Yip for Epitaph Records.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Most Anticipated of 2018: #10 Architects Press Onward

Last year proved to be one of reflection and recovery for many in the heavy music scene, as fans mourned the 2016 loss of Architects’ founding guitarist and songwriter Tom Searle. In September, the British metalcore act released “Doomsday”, their first track since Searle’s passing, serving as a farewell to their brother and a notice that they intend to carry on.

While it was hard to imagine Architects without Tom in the near aftermath of his passing, it’s even harder to think of one of the genre’s best bands hanging it up. It’s true – things won’t be the same without Tom, but Architects have shown themselves time and again to possess the kind of talent and drive needed to push the boundaries of the genre. Whatever comes next from the band will be welcomed with open arms.

And certainly, after 2017 proved to be worse than most of us imagined, the blistering voice of Sam Carter would be music to our ears. Even aside from their musical prowess, Architects’ penchant for battling against the voices of privilege, wealth, and oppression in our world have become one of the band’s hallmarks. If ever there was a time for punk music to land a blow amidst our current state of affairs, the time is now.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Saying Goodbye to Letlive.

My first experience with letlive. was unintentional. On a hot July evening in Louisville, Kentucky, I was in attendance to cover my favorite band, Underoath, in support of their new album Ø (Disambiguation). It was mid-2011 and I was unaware of letlive.’s existence before their placement as the opener on the tour, though that night would prove to be the most enraptured I have ever been while watching an opening act.

Within moments of taking the stage, vocalist Jason Aalon Butler leaped into the docile crowd, screaming the repeated refrain of, “There are no martyrs in resolution / Remain still, don’t expect restitution / Stand up, stand up, stand up”. From there, the energy only escalated. Before the band’s set came to an end, Butler would be pulled from the stage by two venue security guards and dragged out of the building for his response to their abuse of a spectator. Feedback blared over the house speakers as the crowd looked around in bewilderment, unsure what it had just witnessed.

In so many ways, it was the perfect introduction to a band delivering an unwavering wake-up call, resolute in its cry against injustice.

Hanging with Jason after a 2012 concert in Indianapolis.

That night, I purchased Fake History, their breakthrough album, which had just been re-released by Epitaph Records. In the years that followed, I made it my ambition to share the news of letlive. at every possible opportunity, framing them as the west-coast spiritual successors to New York hardcore kings, Glassjaw.

For all of the criticism aimed in the direction of modern punk music, perhaps none is more valid than the idea that the genre has lost its teeth: misdirected passion with no resounding political or social message; no voice. It was, and still is, my belief that letlive. encapsulated the spirit of the punk community in a way that very few bands have dared in recent decades.

Fake History is a manic display of outrage directed toward systematic oppression and collective rejection of truth. Topics range from religious denial of evolution to the pitfalls of capitalism. On “Casino Columbus”, Butler takes aim at the pillaging of Native Americans and their culture, shrieking, “I want to be the bourgeoisie, but I don’t have blue blood in my veins / My eyes did see the vampirous pilgrim drop a few red drips from his fangs” before closing with, “Stick your finger down the throat of your freedoms / And let it all purge on out”.

The raw, post-hardcore violence of Fake History, coupled with grassroots, word-of-mouth marketing around the band’s live performances brought letlive. to scene attention, complete with magazine covers and features that showcased the delicate, thoughtful off-stage personality of Butler – a man determined to deliver his message at any cost. It was that organic rise to attention to made 2013’s The Blackest Beautiful all the more impactful.

I’m a firm believer that The Blackest Beautiful is one of the most important rock albums the genre has produced in recent memory. In addition to refining their sonic chaos, Butler delivers an inspired performance, targeting systematic racism, the broken healthcare system, and a misplaced worship of celebrity. It’s the punk album that letlive. had earned more than enough cache to deliver, and it is close to perfect.

That summer was a whirlwind, with letlive. leading a long-overdue conversation in an often-complacent scene. One of the personal highlights of my career came while covering the band on that summer’s Warped Tour, writing a feature on a band that had put the genre I love on notice in all the right ways. It felt like validation.

As I’ve learned so many times in my life, though, it’s easy to take good things for granted. I largely shrugged at last year’s If I’m the Devil…, an album that I felt lacked the bite of letlive.’s previous work, even if it did contain some interesting new tricks and important discussion. It never crossed my mind that we might have heard the last from a band that I presumed would lead the genre forward for years to come.

The news of letlive.’s demise is hard to swallow and even harder to believe. The mission statement and idea behind the very website you’re reading is based largely off of the spirit of letlive. – a commitment to praise authenticy, progress and positivity. In a scene that still shamefully struggles with misogyny, gender and racial imbalance, and general apathy, it’s hard not to feel a giant hole. Nevertheless, I know this community benefited greatly from letlive. and I firmly believe that others will carry their torch.

I feel fortunate to have been at that show in Louisville in 2011 and even more fortunate to have watched the band play countless times after, seeing something new with each performance. I’m grateful to the band for their music, their message and their humbleness. Finally, I feel confident than their spirit of empowerment and justice will carry on. After all, according to Butler at every show I attended, letlive. was composed of more than just the members on stage – it was all of us.

“We got an army for us versus them, but look, it’s not us versus them / It’s just us, my friend”

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

This Wild Life Stream New Song “Hit the Reset”

this-wild-life-2016

We’re only a few short weeks away from Low Tides, the new release from This Wild Life. The Long Beach duo made a splash in 2014 with their debut album, Clouded, a mostly acoustic affair full of rich melodies and heartbreak. This time around, This Wild Life appear to be adding to the mix, exemplified by their new song “Hit the Reset”. Take a listen to the new track below:

If you like what you hear, you can pre-order Low Tides through the band’s website. The album releases on September 9 via Epitaph Records.

What are your thoughts on the new track? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Architects – All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

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Where do you go once you’ve reached the top? In 2014, Architects released what appeared to be their masterpiece with Lost Forever // Lost Together, a triumph of modern metalcore that firmly planted the band atop the genre. After a decade of scratching and clawing, it appeared that the bone-crushing Brighton act had reached their zenith.

With that in mind, what do we do with All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, an album that for all intents and purposes is every bit the masterpiece of their prior release?

All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us

You can buy All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us on iTunes.

For their seventh full-length album, Architects once again hit the studio with Henrik Udd and Fredrik Nordström, a purposeful decision by a band that felt as though they unearthed the treasure within on their last record. The resulting collection of songs won’t change the narrative of the band, but it will certainly rattle your soul once more, cementing Architects as the finest metalcore band on the planet

Because of the production similarities and the band’s decision to follow the thread they pulled on their last outing, All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us won’t catch the casual listener by surprise. But for those who were transfixed with Architects’ rapid evolution, there’s even more to enjoy this time around.

The band wastes no time getting down to business, ripping out of the gate with opener “Nihilist”, an absolutely brutal track that sets the tone for the record. Lost Forever // Lost Together touched on a variety of themes related to the depraved condition of humanity, but All Our Gods points its focus primarily on corrupt Western politics and our self-elevated “gods” that bring nothing but ruin and decay. While the instrumentals of “Nihilist” grow more expansive and complex as the song progresses, vocalist Sam Carter’s lyrics become razor sharp: “All hail the corporatocracy / The word of God written in binary / All hail our apostasy / The dying notes in an unholy symphony”.

“Nihilist” doesn’t just set the tone for the album; it discloses the premise of the discussion surrounding this record. All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us forgoes the calm-before-the-storm moments of terrifying stillness that are littered throughout Lost Forever in favor of consistently tightened metalcore power that barrels through the speakers from start to finish.

That’s not to say that there’s no variety in sound – “All is Lost” features surprisingly grungy guitar tones that slightly slow the pace while “Deathwish” adds gorgeously haunting programming to its pummeling breakdowns, surgically filling out the already established Architects sound. The most noticeable improvement on All Our Gods belongs to Carter, whose vocals are now a perfect instrument alongside the guitars and drums. There is no more room for debate: Sam Carter is the finest vocalist in the metalcore scene.

His fierce screams are now complimented by melodic cries that are filled to the brim with conviction. On “Downfall”, his voice is full of desperation as the track hits the chorus: “We are paralyzed / But there are none so blind as those who will not see”. When “A Match Made in Heaven” reaches its sonic summit, he bellows to the depths in light of political corruption, screaming, “We found your fingerprints all over the trigger / If you’re looking for tyrants, take a look in the mirror”.

The rest of the band doesn’t sound too shabby, either. Guitarist Tom Searle is now officially accompanied by new sidekick Adam Christianson, and the duo sound stellar. “Downfall” is highlighted by complex breakdowns, rich with dueling guitars, right from the onset. “A Match Made in Heaven” houses some of the best riffs on the record, backed by tense, disturbing programming elements that fill out the mix. Not to be outdone, drummer Dan Searle struts his stuff behind the kit throughout the record. “Gravity” opens with a punishing wall of sound, driven by Searle’s powerful, ripping drums that break only for fleeting moments during a few small, spacey interludes that wouldn’t sound of place on an Underoath track.

If you were to find a blemish in All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us, it would only be in some of the songs’ similarities to the band’s last outing. For example, “The Empty Hourglass” sounds strangely similar to the tone of Lost Forever // Lost Together, providing an unneeded whiff of familiarity. Yet for every moment you think the band sounds the same, there’s tracks like the fearful “From the Wilderness” that add fresh, audible tonal changes while calling out our indifference to the physical peril of our planet.

For all of the ways in which Architects have mastered their craft, the most vital element of their music is their steadfast conviction. If Lost Forever was a despairing cry from the void, All Our Gods is an enraged call for action. Carter has become a fire-breathing voice for change in the metal scene, but for all of the fury he projects, he still saves plenty of venom for himself. “I’d take a leap of faith, but I’d lose my nerve / In the end, I’ll get the hell that I deserve”, he laments on “Gone with the Wind”. Even when he takes aim at political leaders and oppressive regimes, you still get the feeling that he’s indicting himself alongside.

It’s this unwavering allegiance to principle, when coupled with the band’s masterful execution, which makes Architects one of the most important and dynamic bands in heavy music today. We could spend weeks arguing between the merits of their last two outings, but that would be a terrible slight to the band’s overarching message and abilities. To put it simply, the reign of Architects continues. Enjoy.

4.5/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Review: Saosin – Along the Shadow

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Saosin fans know a thing or two about expectations. In fact, the post-hardcore icons have existed amidst a whirlwind of expectations since their 2003 breakthrough EP Translating the Name. Whether the band has met any of them depends solely on whom you’re asking. Suffice it to say, Saosin has been a lightning rod for heated debate, but there’s no debating the band’s talent.

Even after losing vocal phenom Anthony Green shortly after their debut, the band marched on to mainstream success three years later with Cove Reber at the helm. The band’s long-awaited self-titled album remains a post-hardcore classic and one that jumpstarted an entire subgenre, even if diehard Green fans balked at the sonic shift. Whatever side of the fence you stand on, there has never been any denying of Saosin’s influence and the technical prowess of their individual members.

You can buy Along the Shadow on iTunes.

You can buy Along the Shadow on iTunes.

Where the true problem lies for most fans is in terms of output. After the lukewarmly received (and, once again, long-awaited) In Search of Solid Ground, the band parted ways with Reber, promising that a return to form was just around the corner. You know the story by now – it wasn’t.

Yet here we are, seven years and countless hollow promises later, with the unthinkable on our hands – a new Saosin album with Anthony Green. How could this album possibly live up to the ungodly expectations laid upon it? How could fans ever be satisfied after such a wait? It’s really all a matter of perspective.

Along the Shadow, the band’s self-produced third full-length album, is not an album for the fans. It’s an album made by a band that still has plenty left to say and more ground to explore. It may be arriving late, but it’s certainly not arriving devoid of significance. Along the Shadow isn’t simply a reunion album or a fun trip for nostalgia’s sake. It’s the next chapter in Saosin’s growing legacy.

By now, you’ve heard “Silver String”, the album opener and first released song, 100 times over. What begins as a peculiar Circa Survive-sounding track slowly grows closer to the Saosin you love with every listen. The band’s signature riffs, courtesy of Beau Burchell, come in small doses here, but Green’s beautifully complex melody grows more appealing with each pass. Throughout Shadow, the band playfully experiments with new tempos and structures, building outward to new territory.

On “The Stutter Says a Lot”, Saosin tries their hand at The Moon is Down-era Further Seems Forever with incredibly smooth guitar tones and cool transitions. “Sore Distress” adds the addition of ear-pleasing keyboards atop an extremely experimental track that allows Green to shine, especially on the song’s airy chorus. Not to remove themselves too far from the norm, the track’s crushing bridge is highlighted by thrilling drum patterns, courtesy of Alex Rodriguez.

While Along the Shadow lives largely within the post-hardcore realm of Saosin’s wheelhouse, the band takes time to explore both ends of the spectrum. “Second Guesses” is a surprisingly poppy track reminiscent of “Finding Home”, while “Old Friends” provides a dark and sludgy, almost industrial vibe to one of the heavier tracks on the album. Even within the dense texture of the track, you can still pull out the signature Saosin guitar tones that help the track still feel close to home.

Yet for all of the new ideas and concoctions befitting of an album seven years in the making, the conversation surrounding Along the Shadow will rest firmly on the tracks that fans most identify with the Saosin they’ve been waiting on. And there’s no shortage of moments that remind us that the band are masters of melodic hardcore.

“Count Back from Ten” is the track that old school Saosin fans have been waiting more than a decade for. If the opening riffs don’t harken the ghosts of Translating the Name for you, then nothing will. Rodriguez’s drumming is otherworldly, driving the track through multiple changes of pace, especially during the track’s aching chorus, as Green sings, “And you’ll never find an answer / When you’re waiting there alone”.

“Illusion & Control” best exemplifies the old and new Saosin in a beautiful collision of guitars and Green’s vocals. The chorus is delightfully aggressive and the final minute of the song may be some of Saosin’s best work yet. The track closes with a violent ending, marked by the incredible drumming that made the final moments of “Collapse” so breathtaking on the band’s self-titled album.

Similarly, “Control and the Urge to Pray” will take fans back to the early days with squealing guitars and jerky transitions that keep you on your toes throughout. Green’s cryptic lyrics and off-kilter vocal melodies don’t hurt matters, either, especially as the song builds towards its conclusion: “Always a race to keep you dragging on / Until the currents change / Our days it pays to keep from burning out / You used to care so much”.

Still, for every moment in which Green’s signature cry feels like a homecoming, there’s still a sense in which his desire for a heavier outlet leads to out-of-place aggression. Several tracks on the album are harmed by monotone screeching when a more melodic approach would have sufficed.

“Racing Toward a Red Light”, one of the heavier tracks on the album, relies far too much on Green’s screaming, especially when you consider how delightfully melodic the song’s bridge is. On “The Stutter Says a Lot”, Green’s screaming once again hampers his own vocal patterns with unneeded hostility. For better or for worse, the Reber era of the band was highlighted by Cove’s ability to find soaring melodies that backlit the band’s heaviest breakdowns, something that is largely absent from Along the Shadow.

To dwell on such a hang-up feels like nitpicking of the highest order. What we have on our hands with Along the Shadow is one of the finest post-hardcore albums of the year from a celebrated band that many of us assumed to be gone for good. Whether this is Saosin’s swan song or a comeback story for the ages remains to be seen. For now, the band is once again a heavyweight title contender in the world of rock.

For all of the frustration and anxiety Saosin fans have vehemently vocalized in the time since the band stormed onto the scene in 2003, the payoff has been undeniably great. The band has delivered one of the most influential EPs in scene history and has now unleashed two undisputedly classic albums. Without a doubt, quality prevails – no matter how much we clamor for more.

4.5/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

letlive. Release New Song “Good Mourning, America”

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letlive. have released a brand new track titled “Good Mourning, America” from their upcoming album If I’m the Devil… The song is a blistering number aimed at police brutality and showcases an exciting sonic progression for the band. You can hear the new track below:

If I’m the Devil… drops on June 10 via Epitaph Records and pre-orders are now available. What are your thoughts on the new song? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Is This Real? The Return of Saosin

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The time has finally come. Almost. Probably. Hopefully. Maybe.

Last week, Saosin announced that they had signed to Epitaph Records and would be releasing their long-awaited third full-length album sometime this spring. For a band that has led the league in hollow promises and endless teasing for the better part of seven years, this is as close as we’ve come to jubilation and relief.

Just to be clear, we don’t have any new music just yet, unless you count a slightly intriguing 30-second YouTube clip that wisely avoids tipping the band’s hand. It’s just as well – I’d personally rather hear that first rapid fire drum fill atop a screeching guitar riff in its proper context when a full song is released. Until then, we wait patiently. Still.

For what was arguably the most buzz worthy band this scene had ever known, Saosin’s road has consistently been littered with bumps and unexpected twists and turns since their inception. Has a band with this much potential and talent ever been this mysteriously riddled with misfortune and discord? Even the lead up to this long-awaited moment has been blemished by the band’s painful divorce from founding guitarist Justin Shekoski. Another day, another strange and shocking revelation in the world of Saosin.

Nevertheless, this is truly the occasion long-time fans of the band have been pining for. The band’s original prodigal son, Anthony Green, has returned to the fold and is set to front the album we never thought we’d receive. Although the reunion has been anything but storybook, it’s played out in true Saosin fashion every step of the way – surprising, peculiar, lengthy and with very few details.

While I’m certainly interested to hear what a Saosin album fronted by Green sounds like in the year 2016, you could place any number of actual or rumored Saosin vocalists in front of the mic and still have my attention. To me, the heart of the band will always be Beau, Alex, Chris, and even in his absence, Justin. Both the Green and Cove Reber eras of the band brought unique qualities in terms of vocal style and substance, but the overwhelming significance of Saosin in the post-hardcore scene lies in the frantic, bewildering, powerful instrumentation.

Even when the band spent long stretches in radio silence, marked by constant transition and states of limbo, their influence stretched far and wide across an array of genres. Still, not a single look-alike managed to captivate and inspire quite the way Saosin did. For that reason alone, this long walk in the desert will have been worth it for a fan base that never seemed to dwindle, even as it perpetually grumbled.

It’s quite possible that the next few months will feel even longer than the years that preceded them as we anticipate the elusive album that is now within reach. Is it possible for this record to meet the ungodly expectations that will certainly be attached to it? That same question was asked before the release of the band’s self-titled debut in 2006. While opinions on the impact of that album still differ, there’s no denying its place in Saosin lore. It’s likely that the same will be true of the forthcoming record, no matter the outcome.

It won’t be long before debate commences once more. Let’s hope it was worth the wait.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.