The Saddest Landscape

Darkness Forgives

Written by: TL on 29/12/2015 14:20:54

If you're just now getting into The Saddest Landscape, you have some catching up cut out for you. Despite the members being spread out geographically, the US quartet has been around since around the turn of the millennium, having released who knows how many EP's and arriving now at their fifth full-length "Darkness Forgives", and they have endured their brand of emotional hardcore going in and out of favour more than once, as trend words like screamo, skramz, and lately 'wave', have come and gone.

Next to wave's frontmen in the stylistically related Touché Amoré, however, the sound The Saddest Landscape presents on "Darkness Forgives" is comparatively more stormful. New fans accessing the genre via Touché's often sentimental and anthemic background melodies will find The Saddest Landscape darker and more oppressively noisy, as the distorted bass and guitar ring continually throughout their expression, while the yelled vocals - albeit quite intelligible considering the genre - are more muffled and choppy, being spit forth word for word on the beats, reminiscent of Guy Picciotto's style back in the day of genre pioneers Rites Of Spring. On the flipside, if you're used to stuff than Funeral Diner or Loma Prieta, chances are you will find the style familiar, yet distinctly more high definition in terms of sheer recording quality.

Unlike contemporary wave records, "Darkness Forgives" is not as prone to install contrast via tranquil intermezzos and mellower spoken word bits. Here the instrumentals stay suffocating and the vocals stay desperate, and to The Saddest Landscape's credit, their compositions move about vividly, with rampant shifts and changes to keep the ear occupied. The urgency and bleakness retain melodic touches at the edges, making for a sound that reminds of older Thursday records, yet is always a notch grittier. Generally, the tracks on the album have free-flowing structures, ranging between two and five minutes of length, regularly culminating in compelling rallying cries, which make you feel like the album was written exactly for sweaty venues, where fans and bands alike can roar defiantly together, against the advances of time, age and trends. "'cause we're still singing like we mean it, and I'm still screaming, you still got a friend in me!" Such rises the bridge in the end of the album's highlight "'Til Our Ears Bleed", which figures as the most coherent individual song on offer, tugging at your ears right from the off with a frenetic riff and a rolling, foreboding drum beat. Wailing notes enter in the back of the verse before chords cascade downwards in the chorus: "Did you hear the silence? Or were you already gone?"

Similarly to many of their colleagues in heavy music at large, however, who also maintain a perpetually high intensity throughout their work, The Saddest Landscape do ultimately run into some issues with monotonousness. Partly also because of exactly the loose approach, which means that few tracks on "Darkness Forgives" have as strong a sense of identity and direction as "'Til Our Ears Bleed". A more common experience on the record is that it steps back and engages you on a more automatically headbanging level, to then momentarily resummon your full attention in its best parts, particularly in "Souls Worth Saving", "Trimmed And Burning" and "The Fire Between Heartbeats". The latter specifically is arguably the secondbest track on the album, surging to a great second half with pained cries of "We! Will be heroes! You and I!" and "Carry! Carry! Carry you heart! Bury! Bury! Bury your fears!".

Overall, "Darkness Forgives" feels like a solid release within the safety of The Saddest Landscape's traditional genre. You believe the band from start to finish though you may not click with all the songs on an individual level, and the only 'compromise' seems that the band has kept updated with modern recording techniques, which shouldn't raise any reasonable complaints. The album is not quite as frequently exhilarating or fascinating as recent ones by either Touché Amoré or even the young Xerxes, but if you're hungry for more in their vein regardless, it's not a bad pick-up.

7

Download: 'Til Our Ears Bleed, The Fire Between Heartbeats, Trimmed And Burning, Souls Worth Saving
For The Fans Of: Touché Amoré, Xerxes, Rites Of Spring, Loma Prieta
Listen: facebook.com/TheSaddestLandscape

Release date 23.10.2015
Topshelf Records

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