It always makes me nervous listening to a band’s second full-length. In case you missed my recent lament on the disappointments that are sophomore albums, let me summarize: the sophomore slump is real, it is vicious, and I have the (somewhat limited) data to prove it. And though I have complete faith in Silent Planet’s ability to churn out intelligent, conceptual metalcore, my research (coupled with their impending release date) had me just a bit worried. But I shouldn’t have bothered, because Everything Was Sound gives their debut, Native Blood, a run for its money. This album is seriously a journey, so you’re going to want to strap yourselves in.
Much better than any introduction I could write is “Inherit the Earth,” the first track which functions as the album’s exposition. Our protagonist is wandering through the woods, simultaneously lost in his surroundings and lost in delusions brought on by mental illness. Each lyric is loaded with a metaphorical meaning as well as literal one, and the two paths wind their way through each song in poetic lines like “I took shelter in the woods with the naked shaking trees / deciduous fraternal twins, we’re both wilted, stem and leaf.” Even if it’s a bit overstated, and you may need a thesaurus to make sense of some lines, the embellished lyrics pair well with the concept and the band’s image as well-read metalheads who write with purpose.
A nice surprise was the piercing clean vocals in “Psychescape,” brought to us courtesy of Underoath’s own Spencer Chamberlain. “Psychescape” draws parallels between how a society controls its members and how schizophrenia, in a similar manner, can control the life of an affected man or woman; in keeping with the theme of control, the song oscillates between peace and released chaos at the flip of a switch. And maybe I’m just a nerd, but I love how the band provides footnotes for the literature, music, and personal experiences they reference within each song. Props to the band for somehow alluding to Orwell’s 1984, famed mathematician John Nash, existentialist play No Exit, Albert Camus, and the Bible in just over three minutes.
The guest spots on Everything Was Sound add an extra dimension to the album that otherwise could have been flat. On “Nervosa,” Cory Branden screams “I am not my own reflection / I am not myself” while Garrett shouts alongside him. “Nervosa”’s squealing guitars and a grueling bassline truly give the sense of being trapped within one’s own mind, desperate and careening.
Silent Planet addresses such difficult topics in an impressively mature, informative, non-patronizing manner, and the first-person perspective of the lyrics just makes the album that much more relatable and emotional. Metalcore bands usually opt for the easy route–the “never give up”-type songs that while musically sound are far from meaningful in any true sense of the word. Silent Planet exists way on the other end of the spectrum–their sound is completely unique to them, and the aggression and passion of the music itself is the perfect counterpart to the album’s theme. Strangely, Everything Was Sound is anything but cathartic—there’s no sense of relief, no emotional cleansing that occurs. It’s a call to arms, a tirade against a society that stigmatizes mental illness. It’s pushing back against misconceptions, and that’s something we can all get behind.