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Looking back, this doesn't really "feel" like an All That Remains album, with how much their style has evolved and grown over the years. As a relatively new (but dedicated) fan, I was initially put off by this; even when compared to "This Darkened Heart" and "The Fall of Ideals," "Behind Silence and Solitude" didn't really feel like it had the All That Remains sound that makes them stand out among the crowd.
But if you're like me, I encourage you to take a second look.
"Behind Silence and Solitude" is a great record; Phil's vocals here are more raw than they've been ever since, at no point is he ever holding back or trying to fancy it up. There are no clean vocals to be found, and that contributes to the powerful, aggressive feel that every single song on this record has.
The lyrics are as great as ever; poetic, thought provoking and a bit pissed off, but with that sense of absolution that makes All That Remains' lyrics special. The subject matter is much less political/controversial as on later records, focused more on internal pain/struggle and personal experience.
Musically, it perfectly blends brutality and complexity. In particular, I was enticed by the intro to the song "Erase," which has a sort of slow and ominous instrumental build up you wouldn't typically expect from All That Remains; it actually called Metallica to mind, and it was a pleasant surprise right in the middle of the album, at the point where things almost began to feel redundant, offering a nice change of pace.
One thing worthy of note is that the songs here are longer than on any ATR record since, and the musical interludes significant. The length of the songs helps to make up for the shorter track listing, at only 8 songs.
Speaking of the songs, let's address each of them individually:
First is the title track, "Behind Silence and Solitude." A fast-paced and aggressive song with great lyrics that hit home and are genuinely thought provoking... but what hurts the song, in my opinion, is Phil's vocal pacing. Its likely just personal preference, but I'm not extremely fond of his delivery on that particular track. 4/5
The second track, "From These Wounds," is easily my favorite song on the record. An intense and truly beautiful song about the pain of guilt, and the struggle for redemption. Musically solid, with excellent vocals from Phil and lyrics that are incredibly poetic, "From These Wounds" gets a 5/5
Next is "Follow," a great song about the simple act of dedicating ones self to another. Brimming with anger but weighed down with a sense of solemn devotion, Follow is a fantastic song, and the instrumentals, while nothing mind-blowing, are great. The musical interlude at the end is definitely my favorite part of the song, and delivers an almost cathartic sense of completion to the track. 4.5/5
The fourth track, "Clarity," has an absolutely fantastic musical interlude that stretches the majority of the song's run time. But the problem here is that vocals actually seem to detract from the song. You get the impression that the vocals were tacked on to fill space at the beginning and end of what is otherwise a great instrumental. 3.5/5
The next track, "Erase," as I mentioned above, comes in as a saving grace just when when the record begins to feel redundant. Leading in with an ominous, slowly building musical piece that, 2 minutes and 4 seconds into the song's almost 7 minute run, explodes into an intense and enrapturing vocal delivery complimented by amazing lyrics. I know I've used this term a lot in this review, but the lyricism here is truly thought provoking; "Erase" hits you with the screams of man questioning whether or not God exists, and pleading for his help if he does. he second longest song on the record, "Erase" is, in my opinion, tied with "From These Wounds" as the high point of "Behind Silence and Solitude." 5/5
The sixth track, "Shading," doesn't offer anything particularly unique, but does all the "normal" traits perfectly. Incredible vocal delivery complimented by brutal yet complex music, "Shading" feels the most like a more modern ATR track, compared to everything else on the record. 4/5
"Home To Me," the seventh track on the album, is also the longest. with a run time nearing seven minutes. And for that entire run, it delivers on all fronts. A fantastic musical intro leading to an aggressive but well-paced delivery of the song's painstakingly honest lyrics, about a bad relationship that one simply cannot seem to leave behind. When you look at them lyrically, this song almost feels like its written from the perspective of the other person in "Follow," so much so that the songs, when listened to back to back, seem like a conversation between two people with opposing views on the same situation. 5/5
The final track, "One Belief," is a fitting crescendo to the record, taking all of the elements presented beforehand and driving them to perfection. The song's only downfall is the feel of redundancy, bringing nothing unique to the table to make it its own. 4/5
Overall Score: 35/40
In conclusion, "Behind Silence and Solitude" is a fantastic debut album, both on its own and as a prelude to the career that would follow All That Remains through their stylistic growth. This is All That Remains at its core; the foundation on which the band grew and evolved from, and still matches up to par with many of their more recent ventures. I certainly recommend it for both old and new fans alike.