It is incredible how some bands can just shoot up to the top out of seemingly no where. But that is what today’s scene is all about, and with the increase in online activity regarding bands it seems a nice layout and a faux-emo catchy sound will land you a record label. Do you remember the days when bands used to tour and work their bodies to the bone to make a name for themselves? Well Silverstein
sure does, as they will have come to my hometown four times in the last year, playing at one venue on three different occasions with three different tours. This is called drive and determination which so many of their peers seem to be lacking. Well regardless of that situation, with a tour schedule tour that hectic and a pretty big increase in popularity, one must be a bit curious about the genesis of the band. Silverstein
started out as a side project believe it or not, and 18 Candles: The Early Years
marks the early sounds of the band in a collection amongst some more modern songs re done acoustic, and even some choice live cuts. There is quite a lot of take in here, as many years are captured on the release.
First off, let me say I was very pleased to know that there was a cut back in production of some sorts. If a record is marked The Early Years I do not want to hear crystal clear sounding guitar parts with a pro studio sound. Thankfully Silverstein
delivered exactly what my wanted order was, a somewhat of a garage band sound with an undeniable showing of talent. Things sound a bit high school if you will, but are not to be taken lightly. When I speak of sound, this is aimed more towards production, as the band sounds tight as a whole. Guitar melodies are interlaced wonderfully together, drums keep the pieces from falling out, and bass is heard in some cases keeping rhythm for the most part. The most shocking aspect of the beginning of the record was the vocals. Cleary Shane showed improvement in the band’s latest release Discovering The Waterfront
but the shock is not in how poor the singing is, the surprise comes in how much his tone has developed. There are plenty of moments on the earlier songs where one will begin to wonder if the band had a different singer at one time. Shane’s vocals do not sound bad necessarily, just very different than they do on any record the band has released on Victory. Also it seems as though the band had a bit of a diverse direction at one point, as many songs are melody driven clean songs similar to the first track Waiting Four Years
. It features a pleasing clean intro before picking things up for the second half. It is a perfect introduction to the record, as it features smooth singing throughout. Screaming is rarely utilized on the first few tracks as the band keeps the fluent melodies flowing.
The first real hint of screaming comes out during Red Light Pledge
a song on When Broken Is Easily Fixed
. Here is the first time vocals truly like the Shane Told the modern fans know about. Compared to the record version of the song the singing is a little under-par while the screaming is quite fitting with the general sound of the song. A previously unreleased song (or maybe one on an early EP) Dawn of the Fall
marks one of the heavier unheard songs. It features some nicely pulled progressions, wonderfully executed vocal variations and even a fitting bridge featuring a cool tom beat on drums. One of the fan favorites off of WBIEF Bleeds No More
turns out spectacular here. The guitar tones sound a bit different and the screaming is even more effective than on the album version. While the production is a bit weaker, the rougher sound makes the song feel more energetic than ever. Its hard hitting tone grasps hold of listeners and does not let go for the first half of the song. The clean bridge still comes up a bit abruptly but really adds a creepy atmosphere into the mix. When things pick up a wonderful ending occurs for a simply fantastic song. As far as the unreleased and previously recorded songs go, Silverstein
did a superb job. Things sound different from their respective albums (when applicable), and there are both positive and negative aspects about the songs which really put the band’s growth into picture.
The acoustic section in the record is easily a highlight as it features two fantastic songs off of Discovering The Waterfront
. The first acoustic song My Heroine
features some of the band’s finest lyrics. At first I had some doubts about this song on acoustic due to the brief screaming on the album version. However, Shane Told tones things down while managing to deliver an equally powerfully vocal performance. His vocals are just absolutely astounding on this and the acoustic work is very pleasing as well. The music and vocals are just both in perfect harmony together and something truly special is revealed. Shane shows his wide range in both tones and the styles he is capable of reaching. The closing track of DTW Call It Karma
is another great choice for an acoustic song. Once again the acoustic work is done with grace as the progressions really work great with the vocals. The little melody work around the 1:45 mark is beautiful on acoustic and shows exactly how much talent the band possesses. When the live songs come into play, there is a bit of disappointment initially. Shane’s performance on Discovering The Waterfront
is a bit lacking in some cases. When he sustains certain notes his voice sounds a bit hoarse and while the instruments sound tight, the vocals take a bit away from the overall song. During the last half of the songs, things begin to improve a bit vocally but at this point things begin to drag a bit.
Thankfully energy picks up as Shane announces “Alright DC we’re gonna get that energy back right now!” (Hey DC, I was at that show! Sorry) Yes indeed things do pick up as Defend You
comes into play. The screaming on this song is fairly good for a live track and the back up vocals sound great as well. Instrumental wise things sound very tight and the drums during the bridge have a sweet tone to them. For a live track meant to bring energy, the song delivered in quite a powerful manner. Bleeds No More
comes back once again, this time not as successfully as the first. There is a moment during the intro when there is a bit of a noticeable mishap on guitar. Vocally the screaming sounds quite rough in many spots despite bringing a sense of liveliness. Here the clean breakdown sounds awesome, mainly due to the effects and Shane’s beautiful singing. The singing is a very welcome break from the harsh screaming. After the bridge Wil from Aiden comes out to assist in the vocal duties. Things actually sound pretty cool together and all in all for a heavy ending song things work out very well. The massive amount of energy never really dies down and you can just tell the crowd loved every minute of it. The 18th candle of the record is quite the humorous track. They decided to do a dance mix of Smile In Your Sleep
. I’m willing to bet this was not meant to be taking seriously, but there are actually some parts that sound interesting. A bit of effects are used on the vocals and the cheesy synth effects are just laugh out loud funny. Plus the robotic effect during the breakdown is easily a highlight. Personally I would have rather them ended on a serious note, but everyone needs a good laugh once in awhile and Silverstein
provides one here.
So to whom is this recommended for, obviously not for first time listeners to the band as this will provide quite the rough first impression, or at least the first few tracks will production wise. If you have enjoyed both of the band’s releases on Victory this is a definite buy, no exceptions. While some of the tracks have already been released, there is enough diversity here to please the listeners. Fans of exclusively DTW might have a bit of a difficult decision in front of them. While both of the acoustic songs are wonderfully put together, the tracks previous to them will not provide much joy if the band’s debut album was not well received. The two live songs from DTW are both listenable, but in the end it is really your decision whether or not those tracks are worth the gamble of not liking the rest of the release. For capturing the genesis of the band, showing their change and maturity, and exposing listeners to what their modern day live sound is like, 18 Candles: The Early Years
did its job quite successfully. There is a solid amount of variety present here, as well as a good quantity of enjoyment to be had. The Early Years left few wishes untouched and as the 18 candles were blown out, much satisfaction was achieved.
Final Rating: 3.5/5