Silver Tongues: Album of the Year?
Quick disclaimer: My work is on this album! Over the course of this year, I sparked a friendship with lead singer/guitar player/cutie patootie Drew and have covered 2-3 of The World Without Us’ performances. I really enjoy the music and Drew has been generous in sharing stories over drinks and has even given me a few free shirts. (To be clear, I do not work for free shirts, although I’m not gonna’ say no to free shirts.) I’ve passed that kindness back to them in the form of free photos, one of which is being used on the jacket of this very album. That being said, I have not been paid for this review or for the photos, and while this is most definitely going to be biased, I need you all to understand my process and understand what I mean when I say, this album is incredible, and deserves much more than my biased ass review.
About my process… Part of my mission with Slime&Grime is to foster community, education, and exploration of art through entertainment, news, and all other forms of media. That’s literally our mission statement, and part of fostering community is interacting and forming relationships with local musicians, promoting what’s out there, while providing valuable feedback to both the musicians and all you fine people who read the reviews. All abord the hype train, I am your conductor.
That being said I don’t see any use in shitting on local bands who already have trouble building a platform and are oftentimes still learning their craft. I will almost never do a review of an album or band that I don’t like to avoid this kind of conflict. That’s not to say that if I didn’t review an album that I didn’t like it. Oftentimes I’m too busy to get to an album or am not able to get a review copy. What this does mean is that every album I review is something that I like, or find value in, even if it’s something that is outside of my personal preferences, and while almost all my reviews are positive, I always do my best to find constructive criticisms to help the bands grow and give the readers a general idea of what an album’s weak points are.
Now that we got all that out of the way, this is absolutely fantastic, and I refuse to not dickride this entire review. I have had to review this album with a higher set of standards than I typically do, due to its quality, and have had to spend a lot of time looking at this album with a more critical lens than usual, and I still have little to no qualms with it! I can say confidently that even on a national scale, this is legitimately my pick for Album of the Year.
So, who are these guys even? Well, The World Without Us or TWWU for expediency, is a local metalcore band based out of Lincoln. The project was started back in 2019 by lead singer/driving creative force Drew Tuszon after a colon cancer scare. The music was initially intended to be a time capsule for his children, which makes total sense as it feels incredibly intimate and very sweet. After the scare the music transformed into what we have today, an introspective metalcore project that explores life, love, and human nature.
Let's get started with my biggest criticism of the album. This feels like a greatest hits album. Seriously, there is not a single bad track on this. It’s banger after banger on this bad boy. It almost feels like these tracks have been in Drew’s back pocket for years. Perhaps a lot of them have. This feels very much akin to rock band Boston’s first album, in which lead creative Tom Scholz had spent 6 years recording demos in his basement creating a huge back catalog of music before being picked up by a label, and from this catalog he was able to pull the best tracks for their self-titled debut. If you look at that album each track is an absolute bop that can stand on its own deserving spots on the billboard 100 charts, of which many made it on. “More Than a Feeling,” Peace of Mind,” Foreplay/Long Time,” all made the chart in the same year with “More Than a Feeling,” reaching the number 5 spot, and B-sides like “Rock & Roll Band,” and “Smokin’,” are considered definitive rock classics.
That being said, much like Boston’s first entry, that is kind of the problem. Each track feels like a top 100 single, and the tracks don’t really blend in a cohesive manner, which is to say there isn’t much cohesion and flow to the record. All tracks meet each other tonally, but don’t transition smoothly between one another. This could have possibly been avoided by setting the tracks in a different order, or maybe even having more transitionary tracks, but I feel like this is a problem based solely on this album being TWWU’s first entry. Just to clarify though, having your first album feel like a greatest hits record is not a bad problem to have in the slightest!
I also want to bring some attention to the Slipknot cover duo “Me Inside // Gently.” This is one of the most transformative cover’s I’ve ever heard. The band takes both tracks and combines them, while really making them their own. There really isn’t too much here that ties them to the originals, save for the lyrics, choruses, and minor instrumental themes, and even those are played pretty loosely. The pieces are there to tie them back to the originals if you are paying attention, but it reads more like a TWWU track than a Slipknot track. Honestly if they changed the lyrics these would be entirely different tracks and may not even be liable to be considered plagiarism. I personally prefer transformative tracks, and have no attachment for the originals, however I can see some fans being confused by this. Honestly, it's an awesome track regardless, just something to think about.
There is so much to love here. The mix is luscious. It feels warm and intimate, and none of the instruments interrupt each other’s spaces sonically. Guitars have plenty of mids to stand out from the drums, which are punchy without being overpowering. The vocals are loud enough to stand above the instrumentation without being too much and thank God the bass has a presence and isn’t just mixed under the guitars. Too many local bands just immediately cover up their bass player as if they are embarrassed by their existence without foresight into how it sounds. (Eww bass players!) This is an incredibly professional mix that feels fresh and unique from other metalcore acts, and I cannot stress this, this is their first album!
Not only that, but all the performances on this are clean. Drummer Cole’s parts all feel fresh and unique, bassist Brett does more than just be audible in the album, he actually provides a solid foundation to the sound, and Dustin and Drew’s guitarwork is on par with some of the best metalcore have to offer even though there isn’t a solo to be had, (which is something that is not really necessary but more of a personal preference.) Oh, and Drews vocals, let me tell you about my favorite thing about this album. The vocal parts are the highlight of the album. The dirties can get really dirty and are appropriately used, all Blegh’s accounted for, and the cleans are not trope-y in the slightest, (metalcore singers amiright?) providing a full unique sound without being annoying, while being harmonically layered with grace.
I also have to give it up to their branding. While their logo feels very death metal, they often pair it with crisp and clean imagery. Most of the imagery associated with this album and its singles were natural props, like a tree ring, crystals, and the insides of a geode, placed upon a white background. This natural imagery pairs nicely with the themes of the album, and helps the project stand out from normal metalcore projects which traditionally use very animated illustrations paired with vivid unnatural colors. (Think A Day to Remember’s, Homesick, or Darkest Hour’s, Deliver us.) The whole project feels very crisp and Midwest, which I appreciate.
Of course, the crème de la crème on this album are the choruses. “The Forevergreen,” “Windup Windout,” “Six Become One,” and oh my god “Heroindarkness” all have some of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard in metal. I do not understand how this band is this good at writing earworms. After my first listen I was able to sing along to all the choruses, and to this day still get all the tracks stuck in my head, and I technically have had this album for months! (The release date was pushed out a couple times and was originally slated for a September release date.) The songwriting here is masterful. This is Modern Metalcore at its finest.
So which tracks are good here? Uhhh… How much time do you have? The answer is all of them, but I suppose I should begrudgingly pick a few favorites. I think “The Forevergreen,” has a really great main riff that drives you to one of the best choruses on the album. It’s heavy and groovy in all the right ways. I also really like “Miss Leading,” which has the most goosebump inducing moments from the super quiet and breathy intro to the “I heard you say that love will find a way,” focal point. It uses some digital distortion on Drews vocals, which adds this otherworldly feeling to the piece, as if speaking from a different dimension. He also brings on his kids at the end to sing with him, which I almost always find cheesy in other projects, but it really works here. It’s as if he’s connecting with his kids from beyond the grave, which is just the sweetest most tear inducing concept.
This is all but confirmed by the next and my personal favorite track “Heroindarkness,” which has a sound bite stating, “love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space.” I’m not crying, you’re crying! This track also has the added benefit of guest vocalist L.A. Skye (of Dear Freida, and recently Chasing Supernovas,) who is one of the sweetest gals in the metal scene. Her vocals really elevate the piece pairing nicely with Drew’s while doing these often rhythmically offset harmonies. There is a ton of great stuff happening with this track vocally, and I hope TWWU has the chance to collab with her in the future.
I also really enjoy the title track “Silver Tongues.” It’s another track featuring Drew’s boys as well as L.A.Skye, but this one also features vocalist of Under Red Skies, Anthony Hawkins. It’s another great track with fantastic vocal layering and everyone here contributes equally to making it a fantastic ending track. It has this intro that builds a somber soundscape layering reverb heavy vocals and guitar tracks, then places a Matthew McConaughey speech sound bite over the top on the notion that we should put the pursuit of Joy over Happiness. It’s pretty interesting that they pair this idea with a song that repeats the lyrics,
“This is the end, Of the life we tried to make
This is the end, My life filled with heartache,
This is the end, Where the strongest bonds will break
This is the end, Oh god, this is the end.”
Pairing those two ideas really poses some philosophical questions, and really leaves us pondering our own lives, legacies, and moments of joy.
Overall, this album is an intimate modern metalcore experience and a fantastic first entry worthy of professional accolades. Going forward I think I’d like to hear TWWU put out an album that is a bit more album focused, but I’d also be perfectly happy to have more of this. For now, this entire album will remain in my rotation until my wife eventually gets sick of hearing me playing it on repeat. WATCH THIS BAND BLOW UP!
You can dickride The World Without Us with me when they drop Silver Tongues tomorrow. In the meantime, check out their website at https://twwu-official.com/