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.

Saosin to Release New Album This Spring on Epitaph Records

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At long last, it appears that Saosin is ready to release their long-awaited third full-length album. The band announced their as-of-yet untitled upcoming album and their signing to Epitaph Records today by sharing a clip from a new song. The album is set to release sometime this spring. Take a listen to the clip below:

What are your thoughts on the short clip? Share your excitement for new Saosin music in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Photo credit: Credit Gene Smirnov/Grizzlee Martin

This Wild Life Release “Clouded Atmosphere Edition”

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Acoustic duo This Wild Life recently hit the studio with A Day to Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon and Erik Ron to record three brand new songs that are included on the band’s new Clouded – Atmosphere Edition. This revamped version of last year’s Clouded features the new songs along with live versions of “Sleepwalking”, “Concrete” and “Roots and Branches (Meant to Be Alone)”. Check out the full track list below:

1. Concrete
2. Over It
3. No More Bad Days
4. History
5. Roots and Branches (Meant To Be Alone)
6. Bound to Break
7. Better With You
8. Looking Back
9. Don’t Say
10. 405
11. Stay Up Late
12. It’s Alright
13. Alone With Me
14. Sleepwalking (live session)
15. Concrete (live session)
16. Roots and Branches *(Meant To Be Alone) (live session)

You can buy the album on iTunes.

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

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Sleeping with Sirens – Madness

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This should have been the album where it all came together. After making waves with their sophomore breakthrough Let’s Cheers to This in 2011, Florida rock act Sleeping with Sirens began taking their first steps away from scene-core with their follow-up, Feel – an album that debuted at no. 3 on the Billboard 200. With the infusion of newly found pop rock influences, you could quite literally feel the tides turning.

Why, then, does the band’s latest release, Madness, sound like a band still trying to find its identity? After news recently broke in an Alt Press interview with the band that they had scrapped an entire no-holds-barred rock album produced by Nick Raskulinecz in favor of a less raw, more polished direction with John Feldmann, you would expect this effort to materialize as a crossover extravaganza. Not so fast.

Let’s be clear – there are songs included on Madness that are poppier and catchier than anything the band has ever written. There are also screamo-fest growlers that find the band proclaiming their love for “that rock and roll sound” and resounding with clarity that they have no intention of selling out. If you find yourself confused, you’re not alone.

First, the good news: Some of the aforementioned pop numbers are spectacular. Vocalist Kellin Quinn’s voice has always lent itself to this kind of music, and he uses it to his greatest advantage on Madness. The clear frontrunner is “Fly”, a danceable track that feels primed for summer radio. The song starts gently, leading to its huge chorus of, “I wanna fly / I’m ready to burn down all the walls that I’ve been building up inside / I wanna fly and put back all the pieces of this broken heart tonight”.

This sentiment of renewal and resolve is one that pervades many of the glossier tracks on the record, making it that much more awkward when the band transitions back to angry rockers, but I digress. “Save Me a Spark” is another shining radio pop anthem with a huge chorus. The band pulls this sound off so seamlessly, it’s easy to wonder why they haven’t been doing this all along.

Sleeping with Sirens quiet things down further with “The Strays”, an acoustic number with gang whistling. Yes, you read that correctly. The title track follows its lead while “Go Go Go” introduces a touch of power pop into the mix with another bouncy chorus.

So what’s the problem? Frustration arises from track to track during Madness when the band refuses to choose a side of the fence. “Kick Me” is a screamo smash that fits perfectly into the band’s Let’s Cheers to This sound, but is blatantly out of place here. “We Like it Loud”, in sentiment alone, flies in the face of the band’s new direction on Madness and serves as an awkward lead into the ballad-y “Heroine”.

Even on seriously solid tracks like “Better Off Dead”, which showcases a heavy pop punk vibe akin to A Day to Remember, it’s hard to know what the band is going for. There aren’t many “bad” tracks on Madness, but the conglomeration of sounds is too much to be considered anywhere close to cohesive. The talent in this band is clear – and the official addition of guitarist Nick Martin is a huge win – but the direction is murky at best.

Regardless of any of this, Madness will still blow up the charts. With a rabid fanbase and a handful of catchy new songs, Sleeping with Sirens are sure to strike it big once again. It won’t be long though, before fans will expect the band to choose an identity before things are watered down too far. Sleeping with Sirens have now released four full-length albums and we’re still not quite sure who they are. Time is of the essence.

3/5

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.

Sleeping With Sirens Release New Song “Kick Me”

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Surprising news today: Sleeping With Sirens have released a music video for a new song titled “Kick Me” on Epitaph Records’ YouTube page. A new album appears to be on the horizon, with the band recently in the studio with John Feldmann. Check out the video for “Kick Me” below:

What are your thoughts on the new song? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Sleepwave stream “Through the Looking Glass”

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Florida rock act Sleepwave, featuring Spencer Chamberlain (formerly of Underoath), have announced that their new album Broken Compass will be released on September 16 via Epitaph Records. In conjunction with the announcement, the band is streaming their new single “Through the Looking Glass”, which can be heard below:

Like what you here? You can now preorder the album through the band’s official website!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Sleepwave sign with Epitaph Records, announce tour

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Exciting news today for Sleepwave, which features former Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain. The band has announced that they have signed with Epitaph Records and will be heading out on a tour with Nothing More. Check out the dates below:

Aug-05 Kansas City, MO The Riot Room
Aug-07 Grand Rapids, MI The Stache @ The Intersection
Aug-08 Chicago, IL Beat Kitchen
Aug-09 Birch Run, MI Dirt Fest 2014
Aug-11 Pittsburgh, PA Altar Bar
Aug-12 Lancaster, PA The Chameleon
Aug-13 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
Aug-15 Albany, NY Upstate Concert Theater
Aug-16 Portland, ME Port City
Aug-18 Baltimore, MD Ottobar
Aug-19 Charlotte, NC Amos Southend
Aug-20 Atlanta, GA Masquerade Hell
Aug-22 Nashville, TN The End
Aug-23 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
Aug-24 Springfield, MO Outland Ballroom
Aug-26 Little Rock, AR Juanitias
Aug-27 Dallas, TX Trees
Aug-29 Houston, TX Scout Bar
Aug-30 San Antonio, TX Sam’s Burger Joint
Sep-02 Tucson, AZ The Rock
Sep-03 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
Sep-05 Denver, CO Marquis
Sep-06 Colorado Springs, CO Black Sheep
Sep-09 Seattle, WA El Corazon
Sep-10 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory
Sep-11 Boise, ID Knitting Factory
Sep-12 Portland, OR Dantes

Here’s hoping for an official debut album from the band later this year!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Architects release “Gravedigger” music video

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Metalcore act Architects have released a new music video for their song “Gravedigger”. The song is the opening track on their latest album, Lost Forever // Lost Together and is the second single to be released. The video was directed by Tom Welsh and can be viewed below:

If you haven’t checked out Lost Forever // Lost Together, you really should. Check out our five-star review from earlier this year!

Posted by Kiel Hauck