Review Summary: Homeworkcore
Silent Planet are a rarity in the metalcore genre. They refuse to conform to genre expectations and are a band that are able to do something different and produce a sound that is both unique and highly interesting. Now, being able to do something unique in a genre saturated with bands who a lot of people perceive to sound the same is easier said than done but the 4-piece from Azusa, California with their 3rd LP ‘’When The End Began’’ have been able to craft an intricate and enjoyable record that has taken their sound away from their contemporaries into brand new areas.
The best example of the way Silent Planet distance themselves from their contemporaries is in the way they compose their lyrics. Vocalist Garrett Russell and guitarist Mitchell Stark venture into lyrical territory that is unheard of in the metalcore genre. Whether it be historical texts from well-known to virtually unknown authors, bible quotes, war references, political and societal references or even the quoting of other songs, Russell and Stark are able to craft highly unique songs with their obscure lyrical content. From references to Marxism, war related texts, bible passages and Trump rallies, all of the material referenced will see the listener go beyond the song and find out just what Russell and Stark are trying to say with their lyrics. Some have started to dub the band as ‘’Homeworkcore’’ which definitely fits.
Footnotes are prevalent in all songs with Russell and guitarist Mitchell Stark able to weave references into their material in highly effective ways. ‘’Share The Body’’ references the opioid epidemic in the United States with the lyric: ‘’The epidemic of our time: (2) A voluntary genocide.’’. There is a reference to Marxism in ‘’Vanity of Sleep’’ ‘’This is a love affair with consumer despair’’. Also included is my favourite lyric in the whole album (which was a tough choice): ‘’We trade the garden for cities, a tree for a tower, surrendered our faith, became addicted to power’’ While there are these insightful references to the evolution of modern society, there’s also a highly relevant reference to the present with Donald Trump rallies in ‘’The New Eternity’’ ‘’Crowds galvanized by vapid words’’ then we move again back to the past in ‘’Northern Fires (Guernica)’’ which references the Spanish Civil War from the 20th century. Definitely not usual content for metalcore bands to explore.
While the lyrics will fascinate the listener and may see a lot of us having to go and research to find out what’s being referenced, the musicianship is outstanding. Vocalist Garrett Russell is a highly talented frontman having lows that many people wish they possessed. Mitchell Stark is a highly skilled guitarist able to produce some incredibly intricate parts with relative ease. ‘’Lower Empire’’ is the best example of Stark’s guitar playing prowess with the song’s tempo changes definitely catching the ear. Stark’s guitar is a vital cog in the Silent Planet machine and he and Russell certainly form an impressive partnership.
Obviously a very prevalent part of Silent Planet’s sound is Russell’s screaming voice which is one of the strongest in the genre, but he is certainly not the lone ranger in that department. Also incorporated are a lot of clean vocals. The clean singing comes from bassist Thomas Freckleton whose strong singing voice is able to mesh extremely well with Russell’s harsh vocals. Freckleton is able to show his fantastic vocal range on several occasions. ‘’The New Eternity’’ where he takes over the entire chorus and also on ‘’Afterdusk’’. The best use of Freckleton is on ‘’In Absence’’ which is entirely driven by the bassist’ brilliant vocals and this gives him a deserved chance to shine. While many may not be a fan of the cleans and want to hear more from Russell, the cleans never really seem out of place and are always put into the right spots during the songs.
While Freckleton provides a temporary break from Russell’s crushing vocals on many of the songs, Russell is the real star of the show here with his vocals carrying the album throughout its 48-minute run time. Garrett’s lows are a feature of the Silent Planet sound. ‘’Northern Fires (Guernica)’’ finishes on an amazing low which Russell holds for 8 seconds, or the absolutely crushing end to ‘’Vanity of Sleep’’ his influence on this band cannot be underestimated. Garrett is not only a great harsh vocalist, there’s a passage in Northern Fires which includes Russell showing his range with a solid rap flow. ‘’Visible Unseen’’ is also a song worth mentioning with the frontman showing a quick vocal delivery similar to his rap flow in Northern Fires. There is great variety on this record to appease fans who are into different vocal styles and deliveries.
Also making their appearance in this album are breakdowns. Many people see breakdowns as being way too prevalent in metalcore songs and for that reason they detract from the quality of the songs but in this album, breakdowns are used in highly effective ways and don’t really take away from the songs in which they are used. The best use of a breakdown comes in ‘’Vanity of Sleep’’ with Russell’s crushing vocals seeing us to the end of the song but this then works well into song placement with the clean vocal prevalent ‘’In Absence’’ giving us a break from the harsh vocals for a few minutes.
While Russell, Stark and Freckleton add a unique part to the band’s sound, one must not forget drummer Alex Camarena. Camarena is a fantastic drummer who is able to incorporate a nice drumming style that integrates well with the other band members. Camarena’s drums could easily be lost behind the frontman and guitarist, it certainly doesn’t as his drumming is the heartbeat of the band’s sound and he is undoubtedly extremely talented behind the kit. One of the album highlights ’‘Lower Empire’’ is where we really see the band in full flight, Stark’s guitar playing combines incredibly well with Camarena who shines in an outstanding performance with his fills being front and centre in one of the album’s best songs. The closer ‘’Depths lll’’ is a reference to previous material and is an ending to a sequence of songs from the first and second LP’s. This is a great tune to end the album with as it is able to combine everything the band has done throughout the album and packages it all into one to end the record on a high note.
With their 3rd LP ‘’When The End Began’’ Silent Planet have been able to progress and take their sound in a new and exciting direction. While the album may not be perfect, and some may find flaws, trying to find negatives in this record is a very tough task. This is an incredibly solid record that is well worth a listen from one of the most interesting groups in the metalcore genre.
The New Eternity