Review Summary: Although not as heavy as its predecessors, 'The Silver Lining' proves that Earshot haven't missed a beat since their sophomore release four years ago.
Inscribed at the heart of The Silver Lining's liner notes, Earshot writes: "Fight 'til you drop, never give up, and remember that every dark cloud has a silver lining. There are many that have inspired, enabled, and helped us to endure in trying times... and also helped to shape this work of art of which we are so very proud of. You all have been, and always will continue to be, our silver lining." By no means do I have a Ph.D. in deductive reasoning, but it stands to reason that Earshot have toiled on The Silver Lining over the past couple years after being dropped from Warner Bros., later inking a deal with InDeGoot/Fontana/Universal. The music industry is inherently cut-throat and unrelenting, but it's reassuring to have allies in your corner through the worst of times - we all have them, and it's important never to lose sight of their importance in our lives.
That said, The Silver Lining is a record for the fans without all the over-the-top "We wouldn't be who we are without you!" mantras that are issued all-too-often these days, and the question that remains for the casual listener is whether or not Earshot have achieved anything on this record to retain relevance in active rock today, especially considering Shinedown, Disturbed, and Sevendust have all released memorable records this summer. Nearly every Earshot review on Sputnikmusic prior to this review has mentioned how Earshot's "Wait" (from 2004's Two and arguably Earshot's most-recognized song to date) was featured on Madden, while "Headstrong" and "Get Away" (from their debut Letting Go) achieved similar success, so another issue to investigate is if there are any tracks that have the staying power of a "Get Away," or, more ideally, a "Wait."
The short answer to the two aforementioned questions is yes and yes, albeit not overwhelmingly resounding ones. However, some concessions can be made here: four years after their sophomore release, it sounds like Earshot haven't missed a beat, exhibiting little-to-no rust. The band's trademark crunching guitars and bellicose percussion are omnipresent on the record, and frontman Wil Martin's signature vocals resonate with impeccable clarity. Early in the band's career, Martin was compared to a younger Maynard James Keenan, but the comparison has been rendered obsolete and Earshot's instrumentation falls far short of anything Tool or A Perfect Circle would expect to write. While not entirely a derivative, paint-by-numbers approach, the Earshot formula of explosive intro to palm-muted verses to anthemic chorus (and so on) further rebukes that assertion. In this regard, it's either an argument for consistency or an argument for repetition - take your pick - but what should convince listeners to side with the consistency theory is Earshot's ability to consistently generate a slew of hook-laden tracks for nearly a decade.
The most notable sound change from the band's two preceding albums to The Silver Lining is the overall more down-tempo speeds the band plays on this record. While far from elegiac and not even close to 140bpm, the album's moderate feel emphasizes and highlights the band's sense of melody while sacrificing previous conceptions that Earshot are a [nu-]metal act. This shift in sound is depicted right from the get-go with album opener "Closer," which simultaneously passes the Jom's Rule About Opening Tracks (i.e., "An album's opening track must set the tone for the album; a weak opener will always lead to a weak album overall, while a solid opener more often than not leads to a solid record") with flying colors. A swift drum fill leads right to one of the band's heralded boisterous guitar intros, which quickly drops to the expected palm-muted verses, as Martin sings, "Hopelessly, silently, I want you to set me free . . . selfishly, carelessly, you thought you could rescue me . . . I can't explain why I feel so strange." Martin continues similar lyricism throughout the track, but "Closer" does not hit its true apex until the bridge and Martin's highest vocal offering in the outro.
If not "Closer," then "MisSunderstood" is The Silver Lining's "Wait" or "Get Away." The album's lead single has all the elements of a successful radio cut: a catchy vocal hook (the juxtaposition between the spoken and sung vocals in the chorus is a stroke of brilliance to an already-beautiful track), a main guitar riff and lead line that has lasting appeal, and infectious drumming that sets the song's pulse. "Wipe away your tears, put away your pain tonight, run away until you finally see the light," beckons Martin, before continuing: "Sing a song with me, hush the quiet scream inside / See the world through different eyes, hear no more the sound of lies . . . Hear the cold wind blow outside, try to feel the warmth inside / Etch the faces and the words into your mind / As she gently weeps, surface the secrets that she keeps / Like a thief into the night, a love so wrong but right." Reportedly about a girl who moves out to Hollywood but finds herself getting caught up in bad relationships and even worse luck, Martin unfurls a somber, yet impressive story.
While certainly not flawless, The Silver Lining is Earshot's manifestation of nearly four years of hard work and dedication to their loyal fanbase. Label and band line-up changes aside, The Silver Lining is overall a great listen: the record offers a glimpse of rock done very well (as heard in "Closer," "MisSunderstood," "More Than I Ever Wanted," and "Go"). Martin's vocals sound as if they've transcended time - sounding just as he did years before - and his impassioned upper-register vocals are a true highlight. The record is well-mixed and its production excellent; overall. Choice cuts like "Closer" and "MisSunderstood" and the genre-bending "More Than I Ever Wanted" cement the band's deserved standing among the distinguished in the active rock community.
More Than I Ever Wanted
Don't Hate Me
Originally posted @ http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/26843/Earshot-The-Silver-Lining/