Review Summary: A tale of two halves.
In retrospect, Silverstein couldn’t have played their hand more poorly leading up to the release of Dead Reflection
. Though the record’s four pre-release tracks were brilliant singles, Dead Reflection
as a whole rarely comes close to even matching the bar they set. The heavy, crushing direction promised by those cuts also proved little but a red herring, as dynamic opener “Last Looks” is the only non-single to boast this guitar-driven sound. To make matters worse, Silverstein chose to follow “Last Looks” with three consecutive heavy pre-release cuts, leading to a front end that resembles its latter half in neither sound nor quality. With this remarkably poor album construction, paired with a classic case of unmet expectations, Dead Reflection
stumbles before it even has a chance to get going.
Yet, it’s still a pretty damn good record. Though the sound and quality disparity between the two halves is jarring, even the “average” Silverstein tracks that make up its back half are solid almost across the board--only “Cut and Run,” with its awkward “woah-oh” chorus, falls mostly flat. “Afterglow” marks a pivot towards the pop punk end of the spectrum, yet it’s one of the record’s most immediately engaging cuts, boasting a quick tempo and light, summery chorus. However, the bright, insubstantial atmosphere of Dead Reflection's
lighter songs clashes with that of the darker preceding section in a manner that’s not entirely helpful. Thankfully, Shane Told’s vocals are unsurprisingly impeccable, injecting even the more average songs with an extra dose of likability; yet, as a whole, though this brighter group of songs proves pretty decent for the most part, it comes more than a little short of the quality Silverstein have shown themselves capable of maintaining.
With this being said, it all comes back to the singles. “Retrograde,” “Lost Positives,” and “Whiplash” capture Silverstein at their best and most visceral, while “Ghost,” though a notch below the other three, is better than most of what Dead Reflection
has to offer. Though criminally misused in the album’s construction, the quality of these tracks (and “Last Looks”) salvage the album from the generally pedestrian nature of its back half. “Retrograde” distinguishes itself as perhaps the band’s best track to date, while the others aren’t far behind. Though regrettably not indicative of the album’s sound as a whole, this batch of songs at the very least prove that Silverstein isn’t slowing down quite yet.
It’s important to approach Dead Reflection
with an open mind. Listening to it through the lens of its singles is sure to lend little but bitter disappointment, but by accepting it as its own unique entity, one will find a lot to like here. It’s easily Silverstein’s most inconsistent record to date, but aside from a few minor hiccups, the songs never fall below a solid baseline of quality. Veteran fans will likely find Dead Reflection
a mostly fulfilling entry to the band’s catalog, but newcomers probably won’t be impressed with much past the first fifteen minutes. It's no This is How the Wind Shifts,
but it’ll do in a pinch.