Artist: Silent Planet
Label: Solid State Records
Producers: Will Putney, Randy Leboeuf, Brandon Ebel
Silent Planet formed in 2007 with vocalist/lyricist, Garrett Russell, at the helm. Shortly thereafter, guitarist and main songwriter, Spencer Keene, joined in and the band really established their sound. In 2013, they joined the final Scream The Prayer tour with Impending Doom, Fit For A King, and more. Because of this tour, the band attracted label attention, and after more than a year of negotiations they inked a deal with Solid State Records (Underoath, August Burns Red, etc) and exploded onto the metalcore scene with their unique sound and signature lyrical style.In just two short years, they’ve gone from local support to headlining Europe and playing all of Warped Tour.
Everything Was Sound as a whole is–no surprise to veteran fans–an evolution of Silent Planet’s signature sound. It has subtle but profound differences in songwriting and structure, but many of the same techniques and styles that made the band so hard to define in any particular genre are still very much present and alive. Generous use of reverb against a backdrop of almost djent-like tunings is still very much alive and well in this album, and Garrett stays true to the band’s message by tackling tough issues like mental illness, the human condition, and faith, rather than joining the mainstream and crying about exes and life obstacles. However, veteran fans of the band will appreciate the return to a more technical playing style and eclectic, rhythmic patterns. I remember hearing “Orphan” for the first time at So What festival in Dallas earlier this year, and telling guitarist Mitch Stark how much it reminded me of their 2012 Come Wind, Come Weather EP. Mitch smiled warmly and replied “Awesome, that’s exactly what I was going for!”
Garrett is an unashamed Christian, and as such you can trust that all his songs are appropriate for church. However, the band’s lyrics are very intense and very honest, which can sometimes lead to some uncomfortable messages, including songs about social equality, songs calling for the church to renew its faith, and songs about the death and destruction that sin has caused in the world. Be warned, also, that Garrett puts his vast experience and education in psychology to good use on this album, as Everything Was Sound is a concept album about mental illness. If you or a loved one has suffered from this in the past, I can almost guarantee that at least one song will hit home.
.01 Inherit the Earth: The album kicks off in a style reminiscent of their previous album The Night God Slept, opening with an ambient and experimental piece entitled “Inherit The Earth.” If you’ve seen the band live in the last six months, you’ll instantly recognize it, as they’ve been using the first part of the song to open their sets. The song opens, according to the songbook, “hours after the events of ‘Depths II’”(from TNGS).
.02 Psychescape: From there, the album explodes into the highly technical and dissonant “Psychescape.” This song struck me as very Periphery-esque in terms of the chaotic riffs; but, in their own style, Silent Planet incorporates long stretches of ambiance, where Spencer Chamberlain’s haunting voice creates a fittingly eerie feel for a song about schizophrenia.
.03 Dying in Circles: This song caught me entirely by surprise with the opening synth riff. It was a huge departure from the band’s typical use of synthesizers (usually pads to help create ambiance or energy). I suppose such a reinvention is demanded in a song about the revival of the church, calling us to open our eyes and rethink our faith.
.04 Understanding Love as Loss: Coming next and equally unrelenting in its gravity, this song discusses depression and suicide, though the song itself is much more ambient and quiet than some of the others. True to their nature, the lyrics’ footnotes include the National Suicide Hotline phone number (many of the songs include resources to learn more or get involved).
.05 Tout Comprendre: This is an ambient, instrumental prelude to the next track, which (in my opinion) marks a shift in the feel of the album. While the entire album is consistently Silent Planet, here is where the heavy fans will start to be satiated. From this point onward–almost to the end of the album–things get heavier and resonate more emotionally with the heavy fans.
.06 Panic Room: Based on the experiences of a friend of the band who suffers from PTSD as a result of his tour overseas in the military (who–fun fact–just proposed to his girlfriend on stage at Warped Tour during Silent Planet’s set recently), this song is a perfect example of some of the incredible techniques that Silent Planet uses to establish their mastery over their sound: reiterating lines, tactical placement of breaks and breathing points, careful songwriting, and structuring.
.07 REDIVIDER: This song’s absolute mind-blowing features didn’t really hit me until I sat down to really dig into the album. The lyrics turn around halfway through the song and go backwards, completely changing the meaning of the song, just like a sentence that can be read forwards or backwards and mean different things. The song is about bi-polar disorder, and I can’t imagine a more fitting technique. It’s also unusual for Silent Planet in the sense that there are no footnotes. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the band is notorious for citing their references (like a research paper) and making footnotes about where they got inspired for certain lyrics or shedding more background information into the song. “REDIVIDER” doesn’t have this.
.08 Nervosa: Featuring Cory Brandon of Norma Jean, this song stuck out to me as my favorite track on my initial listen. The instrumentation and the vocal syncopation are so similar to my own style that I couldn’t help falling in love. It’s basically the embodiment of what I wish my own work sounded like. I wish I could give a more objective explanation of why it’s my favorite, but I guess it just resonated with me. The lyrics were on point, the composition was perfect, and the songwriting was top-notch.
.09 C’est Tout Pardonner: Moving forward, drawing to the last leg of the album, “C’est Tout Pardonner” is a reprise of “Tout Comprendre.”
.10 Orphan: A frantic and heavy callback to Silent Planet’s early days, “Orphan” is about war, and the band announces in the music video that it is about what happens when we as a culture leave our children fatherless and motherless, waging wars against our brothers and sisters. The song is heavy, fast-paced, and powerful.
.11 No Place to Breathe: This song definitely reeled me in immediately with the blatantly metalcore opening riff. Never one to shy away from harsh truths, this song addresses the state of politics and social justice in America (and likely other places, too), claiming, as many do, that we’re essentially living in a fascist state (“….See the fascists have won/They already won”), encouraging people to put away their strife with each other, and to protest the politicians who’ve put us in our current state (“Lay down our weapons and raise our arms/Make every breath a protest in a world where your neighbors cannot breath). It’s a tough song to listen to and even harder to write about. Politics is always a touchy issue, even when it’s meant to bring people together. “No Place to Breathe” is a musically heavy and lyrically powerful song though, and I encourage any heavy fan to check it out.
.12 First Father: A continuation of The Night God Slept’s “First Mother,” one thing the musician in me loved immediately was the identical keys, the similar feel, and tone of the song. The song is about death and grief, about how we fear death and mourn those who pass. The song is incredibly reminiscent of “First Mother” in almost every way, which is, of course, intentional. It’s very ambient, has very similar riffs, and is very full of emotion and sorrow, as anyone who’s been around death knows such an experience is.
.13 Inhabit the Wound: At last we round off the album with “Inhabit The Wound,” which, according to the lyric book, is supposed to be a culmination of the album. It’s a very quiet, very melodic song, full of clean singing from bassist/keyboardist Thomas Freckleton, before suddenly becoming very energetic and aggressive (much like Depths II did) and finally and poetically ending with a callback to Come Wind, Come Weather: “Make us whole.” Really, I think that line sums up the entirety of what Silent Planet is all about: “God, make us whole, for we are fractured and imperfect creatures.”
Everything Was Sound is out now via Solid State Records, and Silent Planet will be performing at every stop of Warped Tour this summer.
The Bottom Line
Silent Planet continues to challenge listeners (in a good way) and set a new standard for musicians of all genres, not just heavy music. Anyone looking for a new spin on either metalcore or their walk in faith should definitely check it out.