Written by: PP on 13/10/2008 14:11:37

"The Walking Wounded" was one of my favorite releases from 2007 in retrospect. That album took ages to grow on me but when it opened, a whole new world of subtle melody and nostalgic moods emerged, and today Bayside are a contender for a top10 spot on my (lengthy) favorite bands list, and that position is only solidified with the release of "Shudder", the band's fourth full length album.

Those of you who aren't familiar with how the band sounds from their previous releases, imagine a vocalist who sounds equally worry-free as Alkaline Trio's Matt Skiba, and who has a great sense for up-then-down vocal harmonies. In practice, this makes for songs that at first appear kind of strange and difficult to get into, but over time, the style is so unique and memorable that you'll always recognize it to be the dude from Bayside. It also makes for intense melodies that'll haunt your for years to come: I'm still singing "So hoooooooooold back.. steadfast you've gotta breath", the lyrics of "I And I", every now and then. What makes describing them even more difficult is that it's impossible to pigeonhole the band into just one genre. They've got pinches of indie rock calmness, a few punk rock riffs here and there, strong build ups familiar from emotionally charged rock, as well as vibes from the alternative rock scene. In reality, Bayside are a singular entity, a band who sounds exactly like Bayside and nobody else.

On "Shudder", then, the band continues exactly from where they left off with "The Walking Wounded". "Boy" and "The Ghost Of St. Valentine" take the band into a new level of catchy while still maintaining largely the same sound the band has had since its inception, thought with small improvements. First off, the playing is a tiny weeny bit tighter, secondly, the melodies are slightly more obvious this time around, and thirdly, vocalist Raneri's voice sounds stronger and more confident this time around. Occasionally, like on the chorus of "No One Understands", he has also adopted a lighter and poppier singing style, which, while bringing the band closer to the big audiences, happens at the cost of some of the 'mysterious sound' the band has possessed on the previous albums. But this doesn't feel like a problem given the band's capability of integrating emotion into their songs to such a great extent.

Much of this can be credited to Raneri's vocal performance which, like mentioned earlier, is nothing short of fantastic. He's one of the few vocalists able to display furious passion in a soothing and calm manner. You know those stories of 'white rage', the sort of anger that keeps building up inside of you and is unleashed in a calm and calculated manner at a cleverly planned time and place in the future? That's exactly the sort of impression Raneri's voice gives on this and the previous Bayside albums, and it places the band a couple of steps ahead of other melodic rock bands.

Overall, "Shudder" is Bayside's second best album after "The Walking Wounded". Their sound has become less subtle on this release which costs them that ½ a mark, but it'd be wrong to punish them more, since "Shudder" overall is very good - few bands are able to integrate this much emotion and nostalgia-feel into their album without resorting into screaming.


Download: Boy, Demons
For the fans of: Alkaline Trio, GOB, The Sleeping, Halifax
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.09.2008
Victory Records

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