From the early to mid-90s, my music tastes changed quite a bit. My first real foray into music was with the smooth sounds of Boyz II Men, and my eyes were indeed opened up by Ace of Base’s “The Sign.” Eventually I began to cut my teeth on rock with bands like Bush and Soundgarden. Somehow in between these fine acts, Saturday morning cartoons, and super-hero lunch boxes, I missed the “real” emo explosion that occurred during this time. For the longest time, as far as I knew emo was embodied in the likes of Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday. It wasn’t until I stumbled across the seminal screamo band Saetia that I knew what true emo was, and The Saddest Landscape’s latest offering, Lift Your Burdens High for This is Where We Cross is a testament to the emotion intensity that is real emo.
It’s unmistakable upon listening to The Saddest Landscape that these musicians pour every ounce of their heart and soul into their music. Whether the band is playing slowly and delivering almost spoken-word passages or shredding away and the singer is screaming at the top of his lungs, the songs are dripping head to toe with emotion. As singer Andy Maddox’s voice bucks and cracks under the intense weight of his delivery, a truly palpable humanity is added to the whole experience. Although The Saddest Landscape is at their best when the guitars pick up the pace and the full on screams kick in, throughout the album the band provides a solid canvas for Maddox to lay his vocals on.
Although Lift Your Burdens High… has only a scant seven tracks (three of which are from the Cover Your Heart 7″), almost all of them are emotional masterpieces. The lyrical content found here is mostly trademark emo drama, and though oftentimes obscenely cheesy, it is thankfully not understandable enough to ruin Maddox’s delivery. Finally, while the slow-poke meandering sections found on many of the tracks can become trying, they really sets the stage for some stunning crescendo’s. This is especially apparent in the new material found on the album.
With Lift Your Burdens High…, The Saddest Landscape prove that these artists have what it takes to help carry the torch in a sadly underrepresented genre. While no new ground is really tread here, it’s safe to say that these folks do what they do very well. For fans of the genre and anyone else that’s interested in an intensely dramatic musical experience, pick up Lift Your Burdens High for This is Where We Cross; you won’t regret it.