Monday, February 27, 2012

The Saddest Landscape - After The Lights

The first time I saw The Saddest Landscape was probably sometime around 2002. They took a long hiatus and came back around 2009 or so with some line up changes. I will give them the credit of saying that "After The Lights" is definitely more mature in it's delivery than their older material and perhaps age has helped this band hone their sound. Some folks would lump this into the "screamo" genre. I think that this band resembles something that I would label "melodic hardcore" due to a less chaotic style and mostly mid tempo pace (with the exception of "Days Punched In").

My issue with this band's past work mostly lied in the vocal style. The older material had a very dramatic delivery that at times was a little much for me. You can hear this a bit on the beginning of "The Comfort of Small Defeats", "Desperate Vespers" and "Days of Punched In". This new record seems to trade in most of the dramatic style for more urgency and direct screaming. It's an improvement for sure and helps make the vocals and music become one, rather than the vocal style distracting you from the musical goings on. I suppose this is a double edged sword. When you hear that voice you know immediately that it's The Saddest Landscape and I suppose it's a distinguishing characteristic in that line of thinking.

The approach on this record is much more focused and hard hitting. Opening with "In Love With the Sound", the record starts you off with a very nice full sound that moves pretty quickly. There's some great use of gang vocals about 2:15 in and it adds some pretty nice character to the song. The song closes with some nice start/stop instrumentation.

You'll also hear quite a bit of waltz timing on this album, see "The Urge of Permanence" for it's 3 by 4 timing. Clean interludes like on "This Heals Nothing" and "The Urge of Permanence" are often used to set up the song to dive into a different tempo/timing. It works well and provides some powerful dynamics. "The Comfort of Small Defeats" shows one of these interludes at work, backed by tight drum roll. In this particular case it carrys the song to the end.

For the most part the band provides us with song structures that keep things lively.

Listen to it here.