Saosin – Along The Shadow

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, May 25, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Surely by now you have heard the good word: almost two years ago, Anthony Green rejoined Saosin, the band he fronted back in the early to mid-2000s, for a series of long-awaited headlining dates. It was unknown at the time whether the band would ever reconvene for a proper full-length with Green on vocals. But sure enough, here we are in 2016, and Saosin has just released Along The Shadow, their first full-length in seven years. The titular shadow could well refer to the dark specter of expectation that looms over this comeback album.

    Could it satiate the group that has been waiting for the “real Saosin” to return for 12 years? Could is simultaneously appeal to the people who stuck around or joined up during the Cove-era and have been (im)patiently waiting for 7 years for the follow-up to 2009’s In Search of Solid Ground? Could it perhaps even bring in new fans, spurred on by their love of Circa Survive, or Anthony Green’s solo efforts? All of these questions created the great unknown of Saosin’s Along The Shadow, and with all these groups expecting something vastly different from the record, how can an album possibly appeal to them all?

    Perhaps because Circa Survive has become something of a juggernaut in the alternative rock space, while Cove Reber-fronted Saosin had some iconic, anthemic choruses of their own (“Voices,” “You’re Not Alone”), audiences may think of Saosin as a group that always had an earworm song up their sleeves. But the record that birthed Saosin, Translating The Name, was not particularly hook-laden. Despite its genre designation of melodic hardcore, Translating The Name’s signature song, “Seven Years” barely has what one would usually call a chorus.

    It’s fascinating to see Green and Saosin bring together the pop sensibilities they have developed over the past 12 years in their respective projects. Huge choruses are the currency of Along The Shadow. Whether its the slick swagger in the refrain of “Racing Toward a Red Light,” or the ominous timbre of “Sore Distress,” each song brings a distinct flair that can only have come from thirteen years of work-shopping the songwriting process apart from each other.

    The song construction leads to a delicate push/pull dynamic and the cathartic release of building energy. On “Second Guesses” these songwriting techniques mesh together beautifully as a pleading, staccato guitar riff unfolds brilliantly into the soaring zenith of the record.

    I find Green’s vocals and lyrics on “Second Guesses” to be a personal standout. The relentless passion he envelops the song with transforms what would otherwise be a fairly rote mid-tempo post-hardcore ballad into an anthem the likes of which the genre hasn’t seen since the aforementioned “You’re Not Alone.” The lyrics are also some of the most honest and introspective of his career. Green went through a much-publicized battle with substance abuse, one that he wrote about fairly extensively on Circa Survive’s last album Decensus, but nothing before quite touched the way he approaches his sobriety and the clarity it has given him as on “Second Guesses:”


    In the way it felt
    I can see it was real
    I won’t be the only one carrying on
    No one could have known
    All of our pockets had holes
    Sober up and you can see
    More than what you wanted

    Longtime fans were understandably worried when it was announced that guitarist Justin Shekoski was departing the band right before the recording of Along The Shadow. It appears that the decision to part ways with Shekoski didn’t have a tremendous detriment on the guitar work for the album. The guitar remains just as much in the forefront of Saosin’s sound, and Burchell still has a knack for finding the perfect guitar tone to take even a simple riff to the next level. He also knows exactly when to scale back his involvement to allow for Green’s vocals to take center stage, or to let the still-immensly-talented Alex Gonzalez rip a groove on the drums. You can see this delicate push/pull in action most vividly on “Count Back from Ten” where Burchell kickstarts the song before noodling his way delicately and quietly through the entirety of the first verse.

    The only song on the record that never particularly stuck out to me on repeated listens is “The Secret Meaning of Freedom” — a Comeback Kid-esque double-time hardcore punk number. The song would’ve worked if not for the overlay of clean backing vocals behind Green’s urgent snarl. The clean vocals feel out of place in the song and don’t really add anything until the more reserved bridge where they are placed front and center.

    Even the album’s weakest song provides a great deal of insight into the mindset of its creators, as “The Secret Meaning of Freedom” gives us the answer to the rhetorical questions posed in the outset of this review: “Pretend I’ll be disappointed of the outcome, but secretly everything is how I planned. They wanted us to be afraid.”

    Whether or not fans of the Translating the Name era, fans of the Cove Reber era, fans of Circa Survive, critics, or anyone else likes the new Saosin album, Green knew that one thing had to happen for Saosin to continue to exist. They all had to love making music with each other again. Along The Shadow is a testament to that rediscovered joy of collective creativity. Along The Shadow may not be the best thing Saosin has ever, or perhaps will ever, put out, but its bursting with boundless energy; a youthful and engrossing benchmark for a band whose current configuration last made an album together more than a decade ago.

     
  2. kyleadams

    formerly thisisalchemy Prestigious

    This album has been on repeat since the release. Love it. I just wish there was one quiet song to help give my ears some rest. Its a loud sonic boom from start to finish.
     
    Ryan and CMilliken like this.
  3. efp722

    Regular

    Good review. Was never a huge fan of these guys and although I respect Green and his serious skills, he always came across way too whiny for my taste. I dug the first song on the album but the rest didn't really do much for me. I'll give it another go though.
     
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  5. The Mysterious

    Yes...but a thing isn't beautiful because it lasts

    Nice review, Craig. You did the album justice.
     
  6. teebs41

    Bah Supporter

    love this record! Post Hardcore done perfectly well! great review.
     
  7. tigereatsapple

    Newbie

    drinking from the fountain happens to be my favorite track, but I also have trouble enjoying it with the clean vocals during the chorus, especially when the screaming melody for the chorus is an outstanding piece of work. The ending to that song gives me goosebumps. Truly, this album will grow on people.
     
  8. Expanse

    Newbie

    I like it. Kind of blends together. Lyrics are pretty close to meaningless but the vocals are nice.
     
  9. palebluedot

    Newbie

    I love this album but I'm not "feeling" this review. Thanks though! I was waiting for Chorus' take.
     
  10. Guys Named Todd

    Perfectly executed Chewbacca sound Prestigious

    Really nice write up! I personally thought the album felt bland on my first listen. You make it sound so good though! I'll have to give it another shot during my afternoon jog (and of course by jog I mean I'll be playing video games).
     
    Essie and teebs41 like this.
  11. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Sorry to hear that! thanks for reading anyway.
     
  12. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    That's my favorite kind of jog too. Even better if I can find a game where my character is running so I can feel like I'm vicariously exercising through them.
     
    teebs41 likes this.
  13. teebs41

    Bah Supporter

    Lyrics are definitely not meaningless, there is definitely a theme to the record and I think that he did a great job conveying that theme. I posted my thoughts a while back in the album forum if you are curious
     
    CMilliken likes this.
  14. Guys Named Todd

    Perfectly executed Chewbacca sound Prestigious

    That's a solid idea. You should try Uncharted. Not only does it make me feel like I'm a good runner, but it turns out I'm a really great rock climber, parkour expert, history buff, spelunker, and ladies' man.
     
    PandaBear! likes this.
  15. Bryan Diem

    Trusted

    Haven't cared for this record other than Second Guesses and one other song I forget the name of, but this review leads me to believe I should give it a bit more time.
     
  16. BigMouth

    [Insert Personality Here] Supporter

    "The Secret Meaning of Freedom" is definitely my favourite song on the record, so agree to disagree I guess. My only gripe with the album is the production, it's a bit too slick sometimes (especially on the drums). Otherwise I think this is the strongest collection of songs the band has put out to date. Translating the Name has the nostalgia factor going for it, and the S/T had some amazing songs on it, but both releases lacked the ultimate consistency (well in terms of TTN it just wasn't long enough) I feel that this record has. I'm going to be returning to it for a long time to come.
     
  17. CMilliken

    Regular

    Great review. I'm loving this album. It's nice to hear these kinds of vocals from Anthony. There seems to be an urgency in them that make you listen.
     
  18. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    I mean at least you know the name of the best song. I think there's definitely something there with this record though. Decensus was a grower for me as well, and this definitely has a similar vibe to the heavier songs on that record ("Child of the Desert", "Schema" etc.)
     
  19. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Funny, this is literally the first time I have ever heard this sentence uttered in relation to a Will Yip production.

    Also, I disagree immensely with the assessment that the drums sound too slick.
     
  20. teebs41

    Bah Supporter

    He did not produce the record only helped out with vocals
     
    Jason Tate likes this.
  21. teebs41

    Bah Supporter

    Beau produced the record and they got someone else completely to mix it.
     
    Jason Tate likes this.
  22. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Interesting. That explains why it sounds better than most of Yip's production. Still don't think the drums sound all that great. Did he engineer the album, or just do vocal production work?
     
    teebs41 likes this.
  23. Ryan

    Might be Spider-Man...

    Absolutely love this record, and I've liked everything they've done. Second Guesses is definitey my favorite. Anyone else read their interview with Noisy(?). Anthony said he regretted leaving and almost asked to come back in 05'
     
  24. BigMouth

    [Insert Personality Here] Supporter

    Yeah, Beau and Chris Sorenson mixed/produced it. As far as the drums, what I'm trying to say is they sound a bit triggered and quantized, not as messy/hard hitting as they usually do on a Saosin record. It's hard for me to put into words, because I'm a drummer and so I just notice these things without always being able to explain them, but they just sound a bit hollow or more robotic than usual. Not terrible, just a little underwhelming. Same with the guitars in some parts. It's weird, I usually really enjoy Beau's mixing, and while I'm fine with ~85% of the choices made mix/master-wise, there is something missing that could have pushed it from being just good or serviceable to great.
     
    Jason Tate and teebs41 like this.
  25. teebs41

    Bah Supporter

    He just did the vocals. I definitely feel the drums were sampled so that every hit sounds exactly the same, at the very least the snare and bass drum
     
  26. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    hmm the liner notes apparently say he engineered the record too. I feel that makes sense if they recorded in Studio 4.
     
    teebs41 likes this.