Review Summary: Yet another solid album that sees The Saddest Landscape making great music that never really goes above and beyond.
Describing The Saddest Landscape has always been a fairly easy task for many reasons, mostly because of their inherent consistency and extremely approachable established sound. Name dropping bands such as Pianos Become the Teeth, Orchid, Envy, and Saetia typically does the trick, as does speaking of the band’s “beautiful and emotional chaos,” or some other typical emo descriptor. But through all this, it’s the comfort of knowing what to expect from the band that makes each new outing from them slightly diminished. Despite being one of most consistently solid acts out there, they’ve not once gone above and beyond, putting out album after album that is always almost there
, almost groundbreaking. This sentiment rings regrettably true for their latest outing, After the Lights
, another well executed but mildly underwhelming release from The Saddest Landscape.
Yet despite the strict adherence to an established formula, and an overall unwillingness to raise any sort of musical fortitude, After the Lights
is still a wonderfully produced emotional hardcore record. As with 2010’s You Will Not Survive
, The Saddest Landscape play an intriguing mixture of modern screamo with classic emo tendencies. Chaotic bursts of frenzied drumming and pounding guitars often lead into melodic, almost post-rock-like instrumental segments. “When Everything Seemed to Matter” is most indicative of this, with the midsection of the song featuring a solemn cello splitting the anger and ataxia in two. All of this is performed nicely due to some very talented musicians. Andy Madoxx in particular impresses, with his always impassioned vocals adding a lot of raw intensity to the overall package. His gruff and incredibly varied delivery is especially stunning, with growls and cleans adding a great amount of personality and character to the album. But it is how well the band works together as a whole that makes the entire work shine. Nary a moment goes by that the band isn’t impressing on some level, whether it’s in regards to technicality or songwriting. The last minute of “Desperate Vespers” is especially captivating, as Madoxx screams agonizingly over a torrent of strings and drums. Moments like these are where The Saddest Landscape looms closely to the edge of profundity, but a few dull sections, such as “This Heals Nothing,” keeps them from truly crossing over.
After the Lights
is the very definition of a “great” record. The rules aren’t changed here in the least, and it’s woefully disappointing to see such a talented band play it so safe, but regardless, The Saddest Landscape have made an impressive album none the less. It’s a perfect representation of what the band has stood for throughout their nearly decade long career, and an album well worth checking out.