Review Summary: "...I'll be proud to say, as long as I keep making the right decisions, you don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. But I wanna make those decisions and I'm proud of being able to say, "Yeah, this is what I went through.""
It's 2003. Emo kids are doing their thing unironically; people are rocking skateboards, skinny jeans and songs from Tony Hawk soundtracks. Saosin have just released Translating the Name
. It's 2016, and everyone's a little bit older, and if you can listen to Along the Shadow
without that twinge of nostalgia - without "I have your voice on tape in a southern accent, screaming at me" echoing in your ears – you missed a damn fine part of growing up at the turn of the century.
When you get down to it, Along the Shadow
is at most a solid release from a band that could have contentedly hung up their hats before they ever made a full-length LP. Of course, like any album riding a nostalgia trip as strongly as this, there are pitfalls in the road. The guitar sections are standard fare, chugging along unassumingly in the background while Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Green have a healthy competition for being fan favourite. The songwriting consistently toes the line of just good to great, with self-titled fans lamenting the lack of supremely catchy choruses, Circa Survive fans disappointed at the lack of diversity and everyone annoyed about the two best songs being confined to bonus track hell.
As most old Saosin fans will testify, almost the majority of the appeal comes from the continuing story of Anthony Green, and the way his life spills out into an incredible tapestry stretching from 2003 to the present. As the title suggests, there's a shadow hanging over the thoughts and feelings in this album. Based on an interview with Green from a few months ago, that shadow is most likely his history of drug abuse and recklessness that he fears will be inherited by his children. It's heavy territory to say the least, which comes with enough doubt and self-loathing for a lifetime (expressed superbly by the Circa Survive song "The Difference Between Medicine and Poison..."), but Along the Shadow
chooses to go toe to toe with the fear and not back down. Perhaps it's the invigoration that comes with re-igniting old flames, or the birth of his children and the sobriety that comes with it, but even with the balls-out heaviness of Descensus
in the rearview mirror it's hard to think of a time where Anthony has sounded more confident and unhindered. Not all of the rhythm section can keep up with one of post-hardcore's most passionate and frenetic frontmen, but as a post-golden years release Along the Shadow
could do far, far worse.