Album number 5 from long running emotional hardcore unit The Saddest Landscape and it’s a puzzling affair on many levels. After 13 years in the saddle you’d be inclined to expect a solid, fluid, well developed sound, and at junctures on ‘Darkness Forgives’ that’s exactly what you get for the most part.
There are far too many tracks peppering the record, though, that sound disjointed and rushed (which is an odd thing to say of a record 2 years in the making). It’s only really on penultimate track ‘A Heaven of Amplifiers’ that everything seems to pull together in harmony as an anxious and restrained build up segue into thundering hardcore and blistering impassioned vocals. Had it been the opening track of the album then it’d have set a whole different scene, but as it is the 8 tracks preceding it are often frustrating and occasionally laborious.
After 4 albums and a glut of splits and EPs we can only measure a band like The Saddest landscape against their history in terms of the development on their current record and on the whole it ‘Darkness Forgives’ doesn’t quite stand up. Looking back to 2008’s ‘All Is Apologized For. All Is Forgiven’, the rage that was present on that record was coherent, direct and most of all blood-curdlingly real. That’s not to say the sense of despair and light/dark is now missing on the new album – it just isn’t as strong which in turn makes it harder to buy into.
It’s a real shame that overall ‘Darkness Forgives’ falls flat, because The Saddest Landscape are clearly a band that have something to say and something that deserves to be heard. If they can re-find the energy that courses through the veins of previous releases then they’ll do just fine but for now fans of the band will have to make do with a bitty album that threatens to fire but never quite gets there.
’Darkness Forgives’ by The Saddest Landscape is out now on Topshelf Records.
Words by Rob Fearnley.