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The Saddest Landscape – You Will Not Survive
The Saddest Landscape
You Will Not Survive - Cover Your Heart Records
Boston-based emo group The Saddest Landscape really chose their band name wisely. You see, their latest release, You Will Not Survive, isn’t merely depressing, but rather pushes the state of individual helplessness to the audio extreme. The group has been around for good several years now, but I’ve managed to avoid giving them the time of day until they recently reformed (truthfully I was never aware that they had broken up). Regardless of my familiarity (or lack thereof), their latest full length is one of those oddly gripping releases that overcome pre-conceived notions of just what emo is.
Listening to You Will Not Survive is like slowing down and driving by a horrendous car crash; you know you shouldn’t look, but that morbid curiosity gets the better of you. Or put somewhat more appropriately, there’s no reason someone in good health should want to listen to a person in mental anguish for entertainment. Yet, after pressing play, that’s exactly what happens, and you’d be hard pressed to not enjoy every minute of it. I don’t think it’s the pain that’s appealing, but how The Saddest Landscape captures the raw honesty of the human condition, and reveals that dark place within, without asking listeners to reach inside first hand.
This is 90’s emo at its prime, and for those familiar with many of Deep Elm Records’ 90’s catalogue, The Saddest Landscape is a given. Vocalist Andy Maddox has the nervous quiver down to a science, it’s the sound of a dejected soul contemplating all but the final act of desperation. The album opens with the usual chords of discord that many of the newer bands in the genre, like Renae or La Dispute, have since adopted as their own. To get an idea about how dire the situation is, look no further than key phrases in opener “From All Of Those…” like “back when we didn’t have to drink ourselves to sleep.”
But for all the emotional turmoil, there are some eerie moments of clear thought and sanity – the type that reaches out and pleads with the listener for empathy. For example, in “The Shadows I Call Home,” after Maddox breaks into a healthy rage, he retreats into near-tears. Broken and worn, and without as much as a breath, the music dissipates, leaving an image of a shattered man – sweat beading down his brow in frustration. Similarly, in “Eternity Is Lost On The Dying” the band rolls back a thunderous curtain for a passage that digs despairingly for a sense of self worth. With a near spoken desperation, the phrase “we are desperate kids doing extraordinary things, and we are just like you” loops and lingers, each repetition firmly confronting and coercing the listener for even a speck of empathy. These moments define The Saddest Landscape from others whose angst plays out strictly in the realm of self-indulgence.
I used to be guilty of simply brushing off such emotional pleas as cries for attention, but over the past few years, bands like The Saddest Landscape have helped me see otherwise. You Will Not Surviveleaves little room for hope, but in line with the band’s multifaceted musical tapestry, the quintet still finds room to hint at brighter times buried within dark thoughts. Specifically, behind the agonizing cries monopolizing “Imperfect But Ours,” the soft enchanting glow of distant female vocals leach through and hint at what might be a reality worth hanging on for. The band never reaches the point of resolve within the seven tracks, but with a psyche this tormented, conquering those demons can only be a constant battle – one step forward, two steps back, but somehow never giving up. A losing battle for sure, but one with a hidden strength making it all worthwhile.