Sometimes your appreciation for an album, or even a band, comes in waves. At first listen, something might bother you quite a bit, and your opinion of the music as a whole will suffer because of it. Sometimes, with repeated listens, the positive aspects of the music start to show themselves, and they overshadow the aforementioned bothersome qualities and actually make the music good, or, at the very least, tolerable.
This was certainly the case for Silent Screams’ When it Rains. The first thing I took note of was the producer, Joey Sturgis. I didn’t need to do any research regarding this album to know he was the producer, as his production is immediately identifiable due to most of it sounding very similar and his extensive production discography. Hearing his production I was immediately skeptical, seeing as his production discography consists mainly of, in my opinion, straight-ahead generic metalcore bands. The very beginning of the first song “Assume the Worst” only heightened my fears. It starts with an open power chord build-up with an ambient guitar line in the background that transitions into a breakdown. This is an intro I have heard far too many times in the past, and it got old long ago.
When the vocals came in, I was struck by how unrefined and inarticulate they sounded, and as I kept listening I also noticed how monotonous they were. The vocalist rarely, if ever, changes up his vocals from a guttural low-mid range growl. Even during the opening breakdown to “Burning Bridges”, a breakdown that is very heavy and would be the perfect opportunity for some deeper, more brutal screams, the vocalist sticks to the exact same scream that fills up the rest of this album. The screams are, without a doubt, the album’s weakest point. Vocalist James Ryan really needs to step up his game, refine his scream, articulate his words, and expand his range on future releases if he wants his vocals to be worth paying attention to.
There was one thing I noticed my first time around that really caught my ear in a good way; this band’s cleans are fantastic. They stick to a nice range, sticking to more middle-of-the-road notes rather than trying to soar above everything with obnoxiously high highs. They also aren’t overused. Instead of having the usual screamed verses and sung choruses, Silent Screams only implement their clean singer when the time is right; They do a very good job of not giving the listener too much of a good thing.
On first listen I only enjoyed When it Rains a moderate amount. The screams really bugged me, there wasn’t anything going on musically that popped out at me other than the clean vocals, and I was ready to write it off as just another generic metalcore release, giving it a low-average score and moving on. But I don’t write here so I can listen to albums only one time through, so I delved deeper into When it Rains.
As I listened to the album further, I noticed that Silent Screams repeat very few sections of their songs. There is no boring verse-chorus-verse-chorus song structure to be found on this album. The guitars do a fantastic job of keeping things interesting. Oftentimes they have a more ambient line backing up riffs that would otherwise be boring, but when a breakdown needs to stand out they drop the ambient lines in favor of being more brutal and hard-hitting, which is an excellent songwriting decision. I found that if I focused on the music itself I could ignore the poor quality of the screams and still enjoy this album quite a bit.
Remember when I said I was ready to write this off as just another generic metalcore release? Well that’s exactly what it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It is yet another album in a long line of albums that are worth listening to, but that don’t break any new ground whatsoever. Quality songwriting and fantastic cleans do a fairly good job at overshadowing terrible screams and a lack of anything different. This album certainly isn’t going to make a splash in the metalcore market; Silent Screams should consider themselves lucky if makes a few ripples, but it is most certainly worth listening to.
by Lee Tran