The Saddest Landscape - You Will Not Survive (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Saddest Landscape

You Will Not Survive (2010)

Cover Your Heart

A few years back, the Saddest Landscape rejoined the fold of present-day bands indebted to an increasingly vintage sound. While interest in such a revival seems pretty high right now, perhaps making the band more "relevant" than ever, you gotta hand it to them for producing a comeback full-length in You Will Not Survive that shows they aren't just phoning it in to be a part of it.

The band continue to produce a desolately emotional take on a style of screamo that probably has origins somewhere between the late '90s and early 2000s. You can pick out sure influences like Saetia and Orchid, but TSL are noticeably less abrasive--it's more like these inspirations are spun heavily through a Waiting-era Thursday filter of sorts. That, and a more recent influence of Modern Life Is War (even visually; look at the cover!) rears back any seriously wild tendencies the band otherwise might employ.

Vocalist/guitarist Andy Maddox is probably the star player. He spits out most of his lines in a relatively spastic desperation; his voice barks uncontrollably at the end of opener "Declaring War on Nostalgia" and simply shudders in "Torn, Broken, Beautiful" and the stunted though anthemic "The Shadows I Call Home." His brutal honesty is sometimes poetically challenged, which doesn't do much to keep the album from feeling at least a little dated; knives are given speaking abilities in closer "For All of Those...", and consequently it feels like we're back in a decade-old time when blood, weapons and death ruled certain sects of hardcore and punk to little progressive effect.

Still, you can't deny Maddox's bone-chilling transparency. "I just want to go back to when we didn't have to drink ourselves to sleep," he declares in the aforementioned "Declaring War on Nostalgia," later advising in standout "So Lightly Thrown" (which initially appeared earlier this year on a split 7" with Trophy Scars), "Let's give up, retreat. There is no point in fixing this." Sometimes, those simpler statements just work, and it's usually in this song's case, being followed by a series of intertwining, weeping octaves and mournful, swinging buildups. The band's at their best here, and in this particular mode, parlaying their miserable feel with textural dynamics and spending their collective breath in resultingly compelling crescendos (see the abovementioned "For All of Those...").

You Will Not Survive's title seems aptly fitting--at least for the record itself. The band call it a full-length but give in after only seven songs, having guided the listener through a thoroughly depressing but enlivened experience in several short bursts. Let's hope it's not as self-referential as the Saddest Landscape's foreshadowed songs might otherwise conclude.

Declaring War on Nostalgia
Eternity Is Lost on the Dying
So Lightly Thrown