Audio Mixer: Beau Burchell.
Recording information: The Cottage Studio 4 & Megawatt Studios (2015).
Photographer: Qazim Gashi.
Along the Shadow holds a special place in the Saosin catalog. It's both a fresh start and a continuation, a new addition and a nostalgic return. As the third album in the band's run, it is also the first full-length to feature founding vocalist Anthony Green, who recorded the band's debut EP in 2003 before moving on to Circa Survive. In the years between Green's contributions, Saosin dropped a pair of albums with singer Cove Reber, which may have well been from a completely different group. With the return of Green's distinctive high-tenor vocals, Along the Shadow is the album the band could have written way back in 2004. Yet with over a decade of tumultuous experiences among them, Saosin have matured and focused their sound in a manner that might not have been possible without that roundabout approach. During the early-aughts screamo/hardcore boom, Saosin broke out with peers like the Used, Thursday, Glassjaw, Thrice, and Blindside. That era's raw, melodic sound -- which went on to breed a generation of post-hardcore screamers -- is retained on Shadow, bleeding an intense catharsis from each track. Produced by Will Yip -- who also manned the boards for Circa Survive and Green's solo efforts -- Saosin guitarist Beau Burchell, and bassist Chris Sorenson, Along the Shadow features 11 tracks of emotional blood-letting, like on the pleading "The Stutter Says a Lot" and "Silver String." Highlights "Second Guesses," "Illusion & Control," and "The Secret Meaning of Freedom" are inextricably planted in 2004, piling harmony upon melody in an urgent anthemic uplift. While Green pushes the upper registers with his wails, the band force themselves to the limit as if this were the last chance to record together. While a number of tracks cash in on that nostalgia -- or perhaps just the band's excitement at the chance to finally make their "debut" -- there are also songs that cement the album in 2016. The winkingly titled "Old Friends" contains crushing metal guitar riffs and pummeling drum bursts courtesy of Burchell and Alex Rodriguez, respectively. Meanwhile, the sweeping drama on "Sore Distress" recalls Bring Me the Horizon and Hands Like Houses, two contemporaries who, coincidentally, are part of a scene that Saosin helped spawn. That song, as well as album-closer "Control and the Urge to Pray," pull the influences back another generation by employing the dichotomous pretty/brutal combination perfected by genre godfathers Deftones. Those heavier moments help center the album, adding gravity to an already earnest delivery. Overall, Along the Shadow is an exciting listen -- both as a solid post-hardcore effort and an important milestone in Saosin's history -- but it's also comforting. After such a long journey, the original lineup have finally made an album together and it's every bit as triumphant and evocative for fans as it is for the quartet who have finally fulfilled a vision they had at the turn of the millennium. ~ Neil Z. Yeung