The Saddest Landscape - Exit Wounded [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Saddest Landscape

Exit Wounded [EP] (2013)

Topshelf Records

The recent surge of post-hardcore screamo have seen the likes of We Were Skeletons, Departures and Pianos Become The Teeth carve out a niche for themselves, and the Saddest Landscape are no different. Exit Wounded shows just why. They delivered promisingly on 2012's After The Lights and this EP shows that they're ready to step it up.

The quartet always find a way of blending honest anguish and emotional connectivity in the most emphatic manner and "Those Yet Lived" is a prime example. Yes, there's the emo aspect that Andy Maddox translates with such a pronounced pain in his vocals, and even in its most depressing tones, it's digestible. He often comes from a dark place but it's gripping how he brings his messages across, and it's nice that Joe Taft's production actually brings out more of his voice than usual. The silky riffs and dissonance are all meshed in well. There's that metal feel with a flowing melodic disarray, which is all chalked up to the immense guitar work.

The musicianship on Exit Wounded is really spot on and when tracks like "Redefining Loneliness" and "Heartbroke and Fear Sick" kick in, you sense the formula TSL have come to perfect. Musically they bring out their rage, the raw honesty of the human condition, the cathartic therapy that some may need and an overall, dark bog of trials and tribulations–but for these songs, they temper it with agonizing melody breaks that perfectly soothe the tone. The melodic disarray and tight drums mix well when combined with the scratchy, unpolished feel brought out by these interludes, again heard on "Coffins Like Ours." This a true representation and summary of the band. It's hard to say what the strongest track is, because they all have bleak and morose spines but still differentiate well from each other due to the emotional tissue layered in.

Maddox's pleas, which sound like he's literally in tears, match the musical tapestry of his bandmembers with such precision. Five tracks in and "Breath In a Darkened Room" closes out the album rather fittingly. You sense the tormented psyche, inner demons, a struggle for resolution and clarity in reality, and a constant battle to see if life is worthwhile. This EP isn't as thunderous as the band's past work, but it does draw empathy and confronts the discord in Maddox's shattered stories. Sanity, frustration, despair and self-worth–all musical touchpoints at which the Saddest Landscape prod, and Exit Wounded is a record that shouldn't be brushed aside because of it. The name says it all.